Snowboard world champ dies in avalanche

Two-time Olympian and world champion Julie Pomagalski of France passed away Tuesday after being caught in an avalanche in Switzerland.

The 40-year-old was part of a group of freeriders that was descending the 3,000 metre peak Gemsstock in Uri, Switzerland when the avalanche hit. Pomagalski and Bruno Cutelli, a guide and rescuer with the CRS des Alpes in Albertville, were swept away in the avalanche and then found dead by emergency services in the Swiss Alps.

Other members of the group managed to escape and raise the alarm.

At the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Pomagalski finished sixth in the parallel giant slalom. She duplicated that feat four years later at the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy. In addition to her Olympic appearances, the Frenchwoman was the 1999 snowboard cross world champion and won silver at the 2003 Worlds in parallel giant slalom.

Pomagalski is the granddaughter of Jean Pomagalski, who invented the first ski lift in 1934 and founded the brand Poma in 1947.

The French Olympic team offered its condolences on Twitter, “The tragic death of Julie, an Olympian and world champion snowboarder, leaves the French Olympic team in mourning for one of its own.”

Our condolences to the Pomagalski family and friends.