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Skiing holiday death caused by negligent instructor

 Poster: A snowHead
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Jonpim wrote:
The run here named as Rosset is commonly known as the M25 Couloir.
The top can be tricky. The route is down, across, and then down. Both down bits are avalanche prone, especially the 2nd one.
It is certainly only sensible for expert skiers.


Is it? Well, not by Google.

They probably skied the main Rosset route. Which is, as you say, down, across, then down. Nothing extreme, but yes, there are some rocks around...

At 1:54min there is a great aerial shot of the terrain in which the main route and the other couloirs are visible. The group then goes on and skis the main one which is already in mogul state, indicating heavy traffic.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xd27fu

Why does this pop up in UK media now (btw, the source is clearly the same for all outlets)? The accident was five years ago, and there isn't anything to find in french media. Not even anything from back then. At least I wasn't able to.
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Tristero wrote:

Why does this pop up in UK media now (btw, the source is clearly the same for all outlets)? The accident was five years ago, and there isn't anything to find in french media. Not even anything from back then. At least I wasn't able to.


UK inquest just finished (yes really, 5 yrs after the event)
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I don't really understand a word of the newspaper article.

Is he an 'advanced skier', an 'intermediate skier' or what? What are these 'level 2' and 'level 3'? As I am not aware that these are standard terms, then the report was not written by a skier, and likely the coronor was not a skier either.

If he really was intermediate, then no intermediate skier would launch themselves into a 35 degree couloir. (Or at least, no senior consultant surgeon who was an intermediate skier; a teenager might.) They'd just stand at the top and laugh.

And how did his helmet 'fall off'?

The article does not make sense.
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@James the Last, I couldn't work that out either. Saying he was an experienced skier but also intermediate. Most people can get to intermediate by the end of 1 or 2 weeks.
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Would it be fair to assume that the ‘guide’ would not have been found culpable had the skier who died been genuinely expert? This particular individual should probably not have been there but everyone falls occasionally - even the very best - and if they’re in the wrong place, bad stuff ensues.
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Anyone know if they had any avi kit with them?
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I thought experienced = "done something many times" and is unrelated to competency level. e.g. I can be an experienced but really bad footballer...

(also I think it was a term used by his wife so needs to be put in that context.)
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richb67 wrote:
I thought experienced = "done something many times" and is unrelated to competency level. e.g. I can be an experienced but really bad footballer.


Indeed. By that definition, I’m experienced at lots of stuff cos I’ve spent years doing them, just to a very low standard Toofy Grin
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10,000 hrs of being a bit crap. I can relate to that.
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James the Last wrote:


If he really was intermediate, then no intermediate skier would launch themselves into a 35 degree couloir. (Or at least, no senior consultant surgeon who was an intermediate skier; a teenager might.) They'd just stand at the top and laugh.


Yep. Being with an instructor or guide does not absolve one of responsibility and decision making.

In the reported conditions it sounds like a sketchy choice of slope for an intermediate group. But the rest of the group seem to have managed it fine.

It does sound like the guy was trying to push himself harder and considered himself an experienced skier (not like a surgeon to have an outsize ego mind...), which definitely is on the instructor to manage, but at some point if a competent adult wants to (or decides to) take a risk, they should be allowed to.

No reason to doubt that the French courts got it right, but maybe worthwhile to bear in mind...


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Fri 26-11-21 10:49; edited 1 time in total
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Tristero, Interesting.
There are now 3 video versions of Rosset here on Snowheads (in this thread and the original back in 2016)
Yours: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xd27fu

Plus these 2:
http://youtube.com/v/taZQmyrDOSg from Whitegold,

and this one
http://youtube.com/v/Gv3svWOZeNQ.
All rather different.
Yours does look less scary then the others, with rather different snow conditions.
The last one is definitely M25 Couloir because it starts on the M25 run down from Roche de Mio, and looks most like what i remember.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Fri 26-11-21 10:54; edited 1 time in total
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James the Last wrote:


Is he an 'advanced skier', an 'intermediate skier' or what? What are these 'level 2' and 'level 3'? As I am not aware that these are standard terms, then the report was not written by a skier, and likely the coronor was not a skier either.

If he really was intermediate, then no intermediate skier would launch themselves into a 35 degree couloir.


The Level 2/3 refer to the ESF ski school grading:

LEVEL 2 – you can turn parallel on blue slopes but do not yet feel confident on red slopes. You will perfect basic side slopes and high speed turns.

LEVEL 3 – you can turn parallel on all types of slopes except in powder. You will perfect high speed turns and experience all types of snow and terrain.


However, I agree that it's still not that helpful - a lot of people try to move up a level each time they ski, so you could have a skier with only 3/4 weeks on the snow at level 3, which doesn't feel enough to be tackling anything off-piste. I always think that level of experience is dangerous - you've done enough skiing to start to think you've got the hang of it, with the danger of being over confident, and are still prone misjudging conditions/ability.
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Jonpim wrote:
http://youtube.com/v/taZQmyrDOSg


I have to say that looks pretty extreme to me - proper expert-only stuff
If that’s the sort of terrain the guy died on, he absolutely should not have been there IMV

Edit: why doesn’t my post show the vid as a thumbnail?
PS: Whitegold was a skier, not just a tw@t? Shocked
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@Red Leon, I doubt it was that one (but maybe it was?). It's a pretty big face with lots of lines on it
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I can't find UK source reports online. Irrespective, a French court concluded negligence, so the UK stuff is secondary.
Possibly French language press reports from the time of the original conviction are online - I can't find them.

rl wrote:
Would it be fair to assume that the ‘guide’ would not have been found culpable had the skier who died been genuinely expert?
It depends on why they concluded "negligence", precisely, which we don't know.

--
Whenever a medic of any description is involved in a news report, they are always a "top surgeon"
or "leading" or whatever. Apparently ordinary people never die in newsworthy ways, which is perhaps
some comfort to the rest of us.
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Handy Turnip wrote:
James the Last wrote:


Is he an 'advanced skier', an 'intermediate skier' or what? What are these 'level 2' and 'level 3'? As I am not aware that these are standard terms, then the report was not written by a skier, and likely the coronor was not a skier either.

If he really was intermediate, then no intermediate skier would launch themselves into a 35 degree couloir.


The Level 2/3 refer to the ESF ski school grading:


Is it definite that that's what was referred to, or was that speculation from the dodgy article above?

Level 1-3+ is also a common international standardisation for skier types used for binding settings, and I have little faith that the writer of said article has any idea what he is writing about (see describing a 35° slope as an abyss...).
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@Handy Turnip, thanks. I see the ESF only have 4 levels https://www.esf-uk.co.uk/levels-and-tests/adult-lessons/ (plus beginner).

The difference between level 2 (parallel on blues - which is 'just beginning'), and level 3 (high speed turns on all terrain - which sounds absolutely terrifying) is huge! Seems to me ESF banding could do with some help.
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@clarky999, it's not an abyss, but it is a respectable slope for most holiday skiers. IIRC it's the slope at the start of the Tunnel at Alpe D'Huez.
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@achilles,
Quote:

it's the slope at the start of the Tunnel at Alpe D'Huez.

Didn't this whole thing happen in La Plagne (which is a resort I don't know, so can't comment on the exact location of the run)?
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achilles wrote:
@clarky999, it's not an abyss, but it is a respectable slope for most holiday skiers.


I'm sure - 35° isn't something to scoff at, especially in hard snow. But a writer describing it as such is either 1. sensationalising to the point where they cannot be trusted or 2. clueless; either way, the (rest of the) linked article cannot be taken at face value.
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clarky999 wrote:


Is it definite that that's what was referred to, or was that speculation from the dodgy article above?

Level 1-3+ is also a common international standardisation for skier types used for binding settings, and I have little faith that the writer of said article has any idea what he is writing about (see describing a 35° slope as an abyss...).
ESF ability levels for adults:

https://www.valthorensguide.co.uk/ESFlevels.pdf
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clarky999 wrote:
I'm sure - 35° isn't something to scoff at, especially in hard snow. But a writer describing it as such is either 1. sensationalising to the point where they cannot be trusted or 2. clueless; either way, the (rest of the) linked article cannot be taken at face value.
I know nothing about this case but I assume the figure of 35 degrees came from Court proceedings? I’m sure that the circumstances, including the terrain, would have been described accurately in Court, not least because it involved a fatality. Would the reporter, or even someone in Court, have guesttimated how steep the slope was and what the snow conditions were? I’m sure this was recorded accurately in the trial.
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@James the Last, the descriptions in the thread and on the page you link don't entirely match up. On the linked page, it basically says you should be competent to ski varied terrain to join classe 3. The goal is to ski technically correct long and short turns, whatever the conditions. There is still differentiation up to classe 4 (goal: become an expert).

I've done a number of ESF classes including 2 and 3, and I'd say the descriptions are fair. The ability range can be quite wide, especially in smaller resorts where there may only be 1 group at each level. ESF don't expect everyone to "pass" a level on the first attempt, especially at the higher levels, so a spectrum of competence is no surprise. In every class I've been in, the instructor has adapted the teaching to the group. I've done classe 3 entirely on piste; I've also done classe 3 where we spent 3 days almost entirely off piste because the snow conditions were so good and the group suited this choice. I've personally never felt that I've been taken somewhere unsuitable. Challenging, yes, but reasonable.

I have definitely seen people who've been in the wrong group (too high or too low) but not had a serious problem as a result.

So it seems to me that there is a lot we don't know and assumptions based on the level of an ESF class are most likely not relevant at best.
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rob@rar wrote:
clarky999 wrote:
I'm sure - 35° isn't something to scoff at, especially in hard snow. But a writer describing it as such is either 1. sensationalising to the point where they cannot be trusted or 2. clueless; either way, the (rest of the) linked article cannot be taken at face value.
I know nothing about this case but I assume the figure of 35 degrees came from Court proceedings? I’m sure that the circumstances, including the terrain, would have been described accurately in Court, not least because it involved a fatality. Would the reporter, or even someone in Court, have guesttimated how steep the slope was and what the snow conditions were? I’m sure this was recorded accurately in the trial.


rob@rar wrote:
clarky999 wrote:


Is it definite that that's what was referred to, or was that speculation from the dodgy article above?

Level 1-3+ is also a common international standardisation for skier types used for binding settings, and I have little faith that the writer of said article has any idea what he is writing about (see describing a 35° slope as an abyss...).
ESF ability levels for adults:

https://www.valthorensguide.co.uk/ESFlevels.pdf


I think you missed my point among the other quotes. I am not questioning that the slope was 35° (or what the ESF levels are), I am pointing out that when a journalist describes a 35° slope as an "abyss" it is difficult to trust the rest of their reporting. Including their reporting of which level system was being discussed. Would be interesting to see any more accurate coverage (or official court documents)!
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@clarky999, OK. I ignored the media’s spin, just focused on the fact (I assume correctly reported) that it was a 35 degree slope and the snow was reasonably compacted. For a skier who might have been a marginal Level 2 / Level 3 on the ESF’s scale (assuming typical ability for that assessment), I’d consider that the wrong terrain given the snow conditions. Beyond those facts (which I assume were correctly reported), I didn’t pay much attention to the article in the local newspaper.
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clarky999 wrote:
rob@rar wrote:
clarky999 wrote:
I'm sure - 35° isn't something to scoff at, especially in hard snow. But a writer describing it as such is either 1. sensationalising to the point where they cannot be trusted or 2. clueless; either way, the (rest of the) linked article cannot be taken at face value.
I know nothing about this case but I assume the figure of 35 degrees came from Court proceedings? I’m sure that the circumstances, including the terrain, would have been described accurately in Court, not least because it involved a fatality. Would the reporter, or even someone in Court, have guesttimated how steep the slope was and what the snow conditions were? I’m sure this was recorded accurately in the trial.


rob@rar wrote:
clarky999 wrote:


Is it definite that that's what was referred to, or was that speculation from the dodgy article above?

Level 1-3+ is also a common international standardisation for skier types used for binding settings, and I have little faith that the writer of said article has any idea what he is writing about (see describing a 35° slope as an abyss...).
ESF ability levels for adults:

https://www.valthorensguide.co.uk/ESFlevels.pdf


I think you missed my point among the other quotes. I am not questioning that the slope was 35° (or what the ESF levels are), I am pointing out that when a journalist describes a 35° slope as an "abyss" it is difficult to trust the rest of their reporting. Including their reporting of which level system was being discussed. Would be interesting to see any more accurate coverage (or official court documents)!


It looked to me that there was some strange translation going on. The kept talking about "corridor" which presumably was a literal translation of couloir rather than the correct one in context which would have been gulley. My hunch is that abyss is another example.
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rob@rar wrote:
@clarky999, OK. I ignored the media’s spin, just focused on the fact (I assume correctly reported) that it was a 35 degree slope and the snow was reasonably compacted. For a skier who might have been a marginal Level 2 / Level 3 on the ESF’s scale (assuming typical ability for that assessment), I’d consider that the wrong terrain given the snow conditions.


Not disputing that at all, as I would completely agree. And I would trust a French court to reach the correct judgement. My point is mostly directly about the - I think misleading - media spin, mostly due to the outrage expressed earlier in this thread, as without having looked at the court docs there are a few 'mights' that could skew the perspective from 'completely irresponsible on the part of the instructor, how could they' to 'in hindsight that was the wrong call and they should have stacked the odds better to avoid such an incident, but one can see how it can happen'.

Unfortunately nothing will change the outcome, and it's probably pointless pedantic speculation. But I bet that instructor feels terrible enough without an online witch hunt based on incomplete and misleading reporting designed to wind up an ignorant (intended as lacking knowledge of the subject not as an insult) public. I don't think it's that far-fetched to imagine that they might read (or that someone might maliciously send them) the original article or this thread.
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jedster wrote:

It looked to me that there was some strange translation going on. The kept talking about "corridor" which presumably was a literal translation of couloir rather than the correct one in context which would have been gulley. My hunch is that abyss is another example.


I don't think so, it was the caption on one of the photos so probably added by a (probably non-skiing, it is 'Kent Online' after all!) editor to raise emotions/outrage.


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Fri 26-11-21 12:44; edited 1 time in total
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rob@rar wrote:
@clarky999, OK. I ignored the media’s spin, just focused on the fact (I assume correctly reported) that it was a 35 degree slope and the snow was reasonably compacted. For a skier who might have been a marginal Level 2 / Level 3 on the ESF’s scale (assuming typical ability for that assessment), I’d consider that the wrong terrain given the snow conditions. Beyond those facts (which I assume were correctly reported), I didn’t pay much attention to the article in the local newspaper.



Totally this.
35 degrees, hard snow in a gulley (i.e., hard objects to crash into) is serious terrain. I think an instructor should only be taking clients on that when he has watched them on similar ground with safe run outs and concluded that none of them is at all likely to have an uncontrolled fall.
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I was out there at the time and skied over to the ropes to look over the edge, as Jonpim said the top can be tricky, or in my parlance no chance! snowHead
Its very steep narrow and chopped up! That said there are various entrances from near the restaurant to the peak where the Inversens lift goes over the top. They vary in difficulty, one looks OK in the right conditions, the rest, are just daft imho!
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
nevis1003 wrote:


I think he did cause the death, indirectly, that's what he was found guilty of, the manslaughter of the poor guy. The fact he was taking drugs and skiing is completely unacceptable, more so while instructing. It is irrelevant wither or not lots of other people do it. The drug taking is an aggravating factor.
It's debatable if the victim should even have been skiing off piste with his skill level.


Maybe it's semantics but I say a number of factors contributed to the death of which the negligence of the instructor was deemed sufficient to warrant a manslaughter conviction but accidents generally involve contributions from more than one party - if you're not standing in the road the chances of being run over by the car where the driver didn't put the handbrake on are lower etc.

As for drugs - many presciption drugs carry warnings about possible drowziness etc, sugar & caffeine crashes are possible etc Skiing has a big drinking culture attached. There are many behaviours we could determine are unacceptable but probably very few paragons of virtue to operate lifts/instruct/occupy the slopes economically if we apply too high a standard. I find the assertion that he was under the influence of cannabis interesting given the long time traces remain in the system for testing purposes.

I've no interest in defending the guy. Plainly a French court was satisfied. Just struck me as typically lazy journalism and missing the important balance that we can all do more to protect ourselves from such "evildoers".
#


I agree about the lazy journalism from the Mail and from this reporter - The Daily Mail is only there to scare old people from The Shires, who should know better, and to whip up feelings from Brexiteers who will be fundamentally stupid at best. The Kent local hack will be trying to net a story that is a local hot story and this, for him, would be a career stimulator and I doubt he is paid that much.
However, my extreme feelings aside about those two categories of people that read the Mail, the ski instructors actions were indefensible in any circumstances. He had duty of care for everyone in that class and to take someone of "intermediate" standard on there is a grave and criminal misjudgement - it is tough, steep and narrow with not much turning capability on a bluebird, great snow day, when I got down with difficulty as a decent intermediate. Compound that with it being hard-packed and icy makes it worse. Also add in that visibility was poor and the light flat and you have every good reason to stop that Dr doing it and refusing to take him in that class. The ESF, for all of them being a wee bit stroppy, "follow me" and during half term, downright unable to cope - they have never endangered anyone that I have witnessed and always made sure that their classes force progression without danger. It would be most interesting to know the ESF's findings and any disciplinary action on this instructor over this incident. Was he suspended, were they going to sack him etc etc? And, whilst I have a high degree of tolerance for people that take a bit of puff or even a bit class A - when you are in charge of people other than yourself isn't the place
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Quote:

to whip up feelings from Brexiteers who will be fundamentally stupid at best.


It’s fcuking amazing isn’t it.
Whatever the reasons, that poor bloke lost his life, and some moron can’t help but infer that the imprecise reporting is due to stupid Brexiteers!
How crass can you get
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Quote:

I've skied many lines where the traverse exposure was far worse than the slope itself
...
Really hard to do such a thing underskilled for the first time - what if you accelerate in the traverse track and haven't mastered the tip scrub etc?

It seems to me the instructor should teach that skill first before taking his charge into such a traverse, much less one with consequence. After all, it's an off-piste course.

I'm speaking as a long time off-piste skier. For quite a long while I had to decline routes involving such traverse precisely for that danger, until I finally master that unique speed scrubbing skill.

And why is self-arrest skill not mentioned when students are taking to terrain where a long slide is a potential risk? The victim only lost one ski. With the other ski still attach, he might have been able to arrest his fall had he been instructed on how (and how quickly he need to execute it)?

Lessons are to give student new skill/improve existing skills. "Pushing the envelop"? That should be the skill envelop, not thrill envelop.

Given the marginal skill level (and non-existing off-piste experience) of the student group, gave me a strong impression the instructor's terrain selection was far far off safety.

It's equally damming that a couple had left the class because they felt the instructor took them to slopes too challenging for their skills.
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[quote="abc"]
Quote:

It's equally damming that a couple had left the class because they felt the instructor took them to slopes too challenging for their skills.


Counsel for the defense didn't like hearing that!
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
abc wrote:

It's equally damming that a couple had left the class because they felt the instructor took them to slopes too challenging for their skills.


Counsel for the defense didn't like hearing that!

Never mind counsel for the defense, perspective student wouldn't like to hear that either.

Learning is more effective when the student feel safe. Not when they're stiff with fear.

(I don't know the ski area. So I can't tell why the instructor would take a relatively inexperienced off-piste course to slopes requiring so much advance skills. I thought most introductory off-piste lessons would be happening off the side of piste)
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mozwold wrote:
Quote:

to whip up feelings from Brexiteers who will be fundamentally stupid at best.


It’s fcuking amazing isn’t it.
Whatever the reasons, that poor bloke lost his life, and some moron can’t help but infer that the imprecise reporting is due to stupid Brexiteers!
How crass can you get


You - don't think there's an tinge of plucky British doctor killed by lazy stoner Frenchie about the article? And Kent being a hotbed for UKIP and sentiment against "The French" not being relevant to reporting biases maybe?

I mean the article could have been objectively titled "Local Coroner agrees with French court in recording verdict on death of British skier" but it wasn't.
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Jonpim wrote:
Tristero, Interesting.
There are now 3 video versions of Rosset here on Snowheads (in this thread and the original back in 2016)
Yours: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xd27fu

Plus these 2:
http://youtube.com/v/taZQmyrDOSg from Whitegold,

and this one
http://youtube.com/v/Gv3svWOZeNQ.
All rather different.
Yours does look less scary then the others, with rather different snow conditions.
The last one is definitely M25 Couloir because it starts on the M25 run down from Roche de Mio, and looks most like what i remember.


I'd say mine and the second youtube vid are the same thing. And I would consider it unimaginable that they skied the couloir Whitegold posted. That's just no ESF-level stuff whatsoever. No management could allow that, as it would lead to severe accidents on a fairly regular basis.

The main route isn't ideal for group lessons either, but, I guess, that's how the ESF roll. The court decision would be interesting. Especially if he was convicted for attacking this particular slope at all, or only because he didn't check this man's ability beforehand.
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