Swiss snowboarding champion Estelle Balet has died in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps during a film shoot, the Valais police reported on Tuesday. She was 21.
According to a report, Balet was the second person to go down a narrow rocky slope but triggered a one-kilometre avalanche which swept her away above the Valais resort of Orsières.
She was wearing an avalanche detector, airbag and helmet. When the rescue team arrived, she had been freed from the snow. But “despite an attempt to reanimate her, she died at the scene of the accident”, the police said. An investigation has been started to determine the causes of the accident.
The young rider, who grew up in canton Valais, was crowned snowboard freeride world champion for the second successive year earlier this month in Verbier, when she won the Verbier Xtreme freeride competition.
In 2015, Balet became the youngest champion of the Freeride World Tour (FWT), in which skiers and snowboarders compete by riding down steep, often-rocky ungroomed slopes
A talented rider from a young age, she started in the junior FWT category.
“I feel extremely sad and bitter and extend my solidarity towards her family,” said Nicolas Hale-Woods, founder of the FWT. “It reminds us that even when you are well accompanied, freeriding in the mountains has a degree of uncertainty.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies