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Champion snowboarder killed in Switzerland avalanche
According to CNN, champion snowboarder Julie Pomagalski was killed in an avalanche on Tuesday (March 23) morning.
The tragic incident occurred in Uri canton, Switzerland, a spokesperson from the French Ministry for Sports confirmed via email Thursday.
Pomagalski was reportedly descending the Gemsstock mountain along with three other people at the time of the accident.
The reason for the avalanche is unclear, said police, who sent a rescue team including a helicopter and two avalanche search dogs.
Officials confirmed that a second person was also killed in the avalanche. This individual was later identified as a mountain guide named Bruno Cutelli.
Pomagalski was a teenager when she became the world champion in snowboard cross in 1999, and won the Snowboard World Cup in 2004, CNN notes.
She also represented France at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002 and Turin, Italy, in 2006.
Pomagalski was born near Grenoble but grew up in the ski town of Meribel, where she ran a sports shop and a ski school, said the sports ministry spokesperson.
She was the granddaughter of Jean Pomagalski, who set up Poma, a producer of cable-driven lift systems such as chairlifts and gondolas, the ministry spokesperson added.
The French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) addressed Pomagalski's passing with a statement on social media.
"The tragic disappearance of Julie, world champion snowboarder and Olympian, leaves the French Olympic team mourning one of its own," it said in a tweet.
France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu also tweeted her condolences Wednesday.
"Too young to leave us," wrote Maracineanu. "Her golden generation left its mark on French snowboarding."
Pomagalski was 40 years of age.
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