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Air bag keeps skier above snow in Summit County avalanche

PARK CITY — A skier survived a close call with an avalanche after deploying an air bag while sliding down a mountainside Friday, officials confirmed.

About 2:30 p.m., the skier was swept up in the avalanche in a south-facing area near the Park City ski resort known as the Sound of Music slope, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.

A group of three people were skiing in the area and moving down the mountain one at a time, said Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Drew Hardesty. The skier who triggered the avalanche, whose identifying information was not immediately known, was about halfway down the mountain when the slide began.

The skier deployed an emergency avalanche air bag, keeping them on top of the snow. "That's what the air bag is meant to do," Hardesty said.

The skier did not need assistance to get out of the area.

The avalanche was measured at 2 to 3 three feet deep and about 300 feet wide. The risk for slides was listed Friday as "considerable" in the Utah Avalanche Center's Salt Lake, Uintas and Logan regions. That level of risk was expected to continue over the weekend, Hardesty said.

He reminded all backcountry visitors to check for his agency's detailed forecasts, which are available beginning at 7 a.m. each day.

"Above all, your great equalizer is to either stay in-bounds or choose slopes at 30 degrees and less, with no (terrain) steeper above (you)," he said.