Former Olympic Snowboarder Julie Pomagalski Dies in Avalanche at Age 40
Julie Pomagalski, a snowboarding champion from France who competed in two Winter Olympics, has died. She was 40.
Pomagalski died on Tuesday in an avalanche, according to a statement released by the French ski federation on Wednesday.
The organization said that a guide, Bruno Cutelli, died in the avalanche as well.
While the organization did not say where the avalanche occurred, the Associated Press, citing French and Swiss media, reported that it took place on Gemsstock mountain in the Swiss canton of Uri.
Uri police said in a press release translated from German that four people from France were free-riding down the slope shortly before noon when a slab of snow "came loose for reasons that were still unexplained."
"As a result, three people slide down the slope with the slab. One person was slightly injured and was flown to Uri Cantonal Hospital by Rega. The other two people were completely buried. Any help came too late for them," police said.
Born in La Tronche, France, Pomagalski won a gold medal in snowboard cross at the 1999 FIS Snowboarding World Championships and a silver medal in parallel giant slalom at the 2003 FIS Snowboarding World Championships.
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She completed for France in the parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 2006 Turin Olympics.
In the wake of her death, the French Olympic Team released a statement translated from French on Twitter, reading, "All thoughts of the France Olympique team and the CNOSF go to Julie Pomagalski's family, to those close to her, to @FedFranceSki."
"The tragic death of Julie, snowboard world champion and Olympian, leaves the France OLY team in mourning for one of their own," the team said.