Cholo
Sunshine Village ski patrol team member and his dog talk snow safety

November 20, 2012

Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort profile: Tim Ricci, assistant snow safety supervisor, Sunshine Village ski patrol staff member, and senior dog handler to yellow lab Cholo, a certified CARDA avalanche dog at Sunshine Village, speak on snow safety.

Tell me about you and Cholo?

I always knew that I wanted to train an avalanche dog and Cholo comes from a hunting background, so we were a perfect fit. Cholo’s sole responsibility is to respond if someone inside or outside of the resort is stuck in an avalanche. We are also the backup for avalanches in Banff National Park and Kananaskis.

How long have you two been with Sunshine Village?

This is our sixth season with Sunshine Village.

Tell me about Cholo’s certification process?

There is an organization called the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association, or CARDA, that certifies avalanche dogs and their owners. When the puppy is just one year old they attend a spring course to determine if they’ve got what it takes. If all goes well they come back in the winter for a week long course. They are introduced to the snow caves and have to find scented pieces of clothing that are buried 70 cm’s under the ground.

What do you and Cholo do every day?

At 6:30 a.m. Cholo and I jump on the sled and head up the mountain. He hangs out in the kennel while I check the avalanche forecast. From there, we do run checks and set off some explosives for avalanche control. We try to do training exercises with Cholo at least once a week and also practise by burying patrollers in snow forts in the snow and get Cholo to find them.

What’s your favourite run at Sunshine?

My favourite run is Wild West… Cholo couldn’t decide.

……….

Backgrounder:

Sunshine Village Ski Patrol and Sunshine Village Ski Patrol Avalanche Awareness and Control

Within the boundaries of Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort, Sunshine Village Ski Patrol operates an extensive avalanche control program. Through a variety of methods, the ski patrollers protect skiers from the dangers of avalanches.

Sunshine Village Avalanche Rescue Dog Program 

We’ve been running the Sunshine Village Avalanche Rescue Dog Program for seven years and have one full time dog, one part time dog, and one dog-in-training. Our avalanche dogs provide an essential service to the resort as you can’t replace a dog’s nose with technology. All of the Sunshine Village avalanche dogs are validated and certified through CARDA.

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