Cool appeal to boarders

February 20, 2004

Accidents on ski slopes have increased alarmingly with much of the blame attached to undisciplined snowboarders whose thirst for danger in pursuit of "cool" has triggered avalanches.

A team of art and design students at the Free University of Bolzano, in Italy's German-speaking South Tyrol, is trying to create a new image-language to discourage snowboarders from endangering their own and other people's lives.

Project leader Katrin Adroschin said: "The existing system of warning signs is primitive, and always the same, irrespective of snow conditions. "It boils down to a picture of a hand that says 'stop'. My students pointed out that this is not cool and can... be an encouragement to dare."

Ms Adroschin is amused by the suggestion that dangerous snowboarders should face harsher discipline. She said: "Snowboarders have their own cool culture, and we have to learn to communicate with them. Most of my students are skiers or snowboarders. So we have developed a system of signs that should bring home in very vivid terms the dangers that exist, while at the same time being cool. This means spray-paint type graphics and intense visual qualities that are emotionally striking."

The project has the support of the Bolzano provincial authorities and may soon result in cool signs sprouting on the region's slopes.

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