Julie Pomagalski, a two-time Olympian for France in snowboarding and a former world champion, was killed in an avalanche within the Swiss Alps on Tuesday, French sports activities officers mentioned on Wednesday. She was 40.
The accident occurred within the canton of Uri, in keeping with the Swiss authorities, who mentioned that Ms. Pomagalski was amongst a bunch of 4 individuals who had been freeriding on a mountain, Gemsstock, when a slab of snow broke free for unexplained causes. Freeriding is snowboarding or snowboarding on ungroomed backcountry terrain, in distinction to a course.
Three of them had been swept away by the avalanche, with two dying and one particular person hospitalized, a police report said. The French ski federation recognized the opposite one who was killed as Bruno Cutelli, a information and a mountain rescue unit member.
A helicopter and two search canine responded to the mountain, however Ms. Pomagalski and Mr. Cutelli had been fully buried by the point they arrived, the authorities mentioned.
France’s Olympic group expressed its condolences Wednesday on Twitter.
“The tragic demise of Julie, snowboard world champion and Olympian, leaves the France OLY crew in mourning for one in every of their very own,” the group mentioned.
Ms. Pomagalski, who was from the resort city of Méribel within the French Alps, competed within the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake Metropolis and on the Turin Video games in Italy in 2006. Each occasions, she completed sixth within the ladies’s large parallel slalom.
One in every of her best sports activities feats got here in 1999, when she received the world championship in snowboard cross.
Based on the European Avalanche Warning Services, 85 folks have been killed in avalanches throughout the continent to this point within the 2020-21 season. Europe averages about 100 avalanche fatalities yearly, the group mentioned.
In america, it has been a very perilous yr when it comes to avalanches, which have killed at the least 35 folks, in keeping with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks fatalities in each state. The full variety of fatalities for all of final season was 23.
Ms. Pomagalski was born Oct. 10, 1980, in La Tronche, France, which is close to Grenoble. Particulars about her survivors weren’t instantly obtainable.
She got here from a line of alpine sporting fanatics.
In 1934, her grandfather Jean Pomagalski, a 29-year-old engineer on the time, invented the primary floor raise in Alpe d’Huez within the French Alps, in keeping with a history of the Poma Group, an organization he based. The raise carried skiers about 705 toes and a vertical distance of about 210 toes, in keeping with the corporate’s web site. The Poma raise title grew to become extensively related to ski lifts.
In 2008, New York Metropolis commissioned Poma to develop a brand new aerial tramway connecting Roosevelt Island with Manhattan, a distance of greater than half a mile, in keeping with the corporate’s web site. The tramway reopened in 2010.