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UK coroner calls for skking safety in Austria

UK coroner calls for safer skiing in Austria

A coroner who assessed the death of a young British skier in Austria has called for more safety measures in the resort of St Anton where the man was killed after he crashed into a metal snow cannon.

The 23-year-old known as Alexander O. had been on a skiing holiday in February with his brother and his parents as well as a friend of his parents in the ski resort of Saint Anton when the accident happened and had not been wearing a helmet.

At an inquest hearing into the death in the United Kingdom coroner Michael Rose also called skiers to be safer. "We are coming up soon to the Easter holidays and I would urge anyone to wear a helmet. I would urge the Austrian authorities to put padding on the snow machines," he said.

Skier Alexander has been at a height of roughly 1,700m when he lost control on the slope and ended up sliding 40m down the slope before shooting into the air at the side of the ski run. He went about 13m through the air and hit his head against the arm of an artificial snow cannon at full speed.

The boy's parents did not attend the inquest hearing but have also spoken of safety measures following the death of their son.

"There's an element of risk [in skiing] but what I have said is that it shouldn't be any more risky than it needs to be," Alexander's father Phillip has said. "If you stick a 15ft-long steel bar across a slope in a position that if someone comes down at speed and loses control they will be thrown into it at 50mph, that's not helpful.

The artificial snow cannons are increasingly being used on ski resorts as warm weather makes real snow increasingly unlikely. With minus temperatures the snow cannons blast a high-pressure stream of water into the air which then freezes and falls to the ground as snow.

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