The Swiss skiing federation has expressed its sadness following the death of one of the country's most talented youngsters.This content was published on December 11, 2002 - 15:56
Nineteen-year-old Werner Elmer was killed on Tuesday during a race in the Swiss resort of Verbier.
Elmer, who was the Swiss junior champion in both the downhill and super-G race categories, appears to have collided with a course maintenance worker.
The young skier died at the scene of the crash. The piste worker was taken to hospital but his injuries were not said to be serious.
"Swiss Ski are very dismayed at what has happened," spokesman Marc Wälti told swissinfo. "It's all still a kind of a shock for all of us and we still don't know exactly what happened.
"An investigation is being carried out by the canton Valais police and hopefully that will give us some answers."
Described as one of the biggest hopes for Swiss skiing, the teenager from canton Glarus demonstrated his potential last winter with a fourth-placed finish in the downhill event at the junior world championships in Italy.
Memories of Beltrametti
Elmer's death could hardly have happened at a more chilling time for the Swiss skiing federation, coming almost exactly a year after the downhill race in Val d'Isère which left Swiss World Cup star Silvano Beltrametti paralysed for life.
But while the timing of Tuesday's tragedy has revived memories of Beltrametti's accident, the nature of Elmer's crash appeared to have more in common with the October 2001 accident which claimed the life of French super-G world champion Régine Cavagnoud.
Cavagnoud was involved in a collision with the trainer of the German team during a training session on Austria's Pitztal glacier. She died from her injuries two days later.
The latest skiing tragedy is likely to raise questions once again over the current levels of safety in the sport. But, according to Wälti, safety measures can never eliminate the risk factor entirely.
"The race in Verbier was being jointly organised by the International Ski Federation, and their involvement means that very strong measures will have been taken to try and guarantee the safety of the athletes and working staff.
"We know that conditions were very good yesterday. The weather was fine and the security and organisational measures were perfect. So right now, we just have to wait for the results of the investigation to see exactly what happened."
swissinfo, Mark Ledsom
Elmer's death appears to have been caused by a collision with one of the workers on the course.
The 19-year-old Swiss junior downhill and super-G champion died at the scene.
An investigation has been launched by canton Valais police.
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