A skier has captured the dramatic moment he rescued a teenager who was trapped beneath the snow after falling while off-piste.
Will Field, 23, rescued the 19-year-old woman after spotting her legs poking out from the snow on a remote, rarely-used route they had been travelling down with friends.
Video footage from Will’s head cam shows the moment he spotted the teenager and quickly rushed to her aid, unbuckling his own skis and pulling out an emergency snow shovel from his rucksack to dig her out.
The teenager had fallen and been flung from her skis before landing head first into the snow while skiing in Les Arcs in the French Alps on Tuesday, March 3.
Will, a holiday rep from Coventry, said his friend had a lucky escape as she could have easily lost her life. While she was only buried two feet under the snow’s surface, the teenager was running out of oxygen and was unable to free her arms to get herself out.
The slope was ‘off the beaten track’ and was not used by the public, so she could have easily been left there for hours had Will not been travelling close behind her.
I went down the slope and saw legs sticking out from under the snow. She was more than half a metre under the snow and you could see her wriggling her legs to try to get out, but she was completely stuck and could not move.
My gut reaction was to just act as quickly as I could. Fortunately I had my safety kit and I shouted over another skier to help out. She could breathe but there’s only so much oxygen under there.
The snow was really heavy and it could have ended up being a life and death situation. She could have suffocated to death if no one else was there to help.
The teenager, a chalet host from Cambridge, was part of a group of five resort workers who were enjoying some down-time on the slopes. She went ahead of the group, which included Will, before tripping and becoming stuck.
She hit a ‘stiff patch of snow’ and was ‘flung’ from her skis head first, and despite attempting to ‘wiggle [her] arms’ to get herself out, she was stuck.
The teenager explained:
I could not get out. I was completely stuck and could not move. I could breathe but the snow was really heavy. I tried to wiggle myself free but it wouldn’t work.
I knew other people would end up coming behind me so I wasn’t as scared as I’d have been if I was on my own. The next thing I knew Will came up to me and started digging. I was relieved but I started to panic. I have no idea what I’d have done if he wasn’t there to help.
Will, who has been based in the French Alps for four months, said incidents like this show why it is so important to carry safety equipment while skiing.
Describing it as a ‘scary’ situation to be in, Will said he was glad he was there because he’s ‘quite experienced’ and had all of the proper safety equipment with him. ‘It could have been much worse than it was,’ he added.
Thankfully, the female skier suffered no injuries.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).