Europe

Champion Swiss snowboarder Estelle Balet dies in avalanche

Estelle Balet celebrating after she won the women's snowboard event at the Bec des Rosses during the Verbier Xtreme Freeride World Tour final above the Swiss Alps resort of Verbier, April 2, 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Estelle Balet had been snowboarding since she was a child

A 21-year-old Swiss champion snowboarder, Estelle Balet, has been killed in an avalanche.

Police said she was caught in the snow slide while filming above the village of Orsieres in the Swiss Alps.

Balet had been freed from the avalanche by the time the emergency services arrived but could not be revived.

Last year she became the youngest ever champion of the Freeride World Tour, winning the women's snowboarding event, and winning it again earlier this year.

In the Freeride World Tour both skiers and snowboarders compete by riding down steep, un-managed slopes. The sport is therefore considered more dangerous than regular skiing and snowboarding.

Safety equipment

Balet is reported to have been wearing safety equipment during the fatal accident on Tuesday, including a transceiver to help locate her in the event of an avalanche.

But "despite immediate efforts to revive her, she died at the scene," police said.

"Estelle Balet was a naturally gifted shining star and demonstrated remarkable talent ... bringing home her second title as World Champion just a few weeks ago in Verbier," the Freeride World Tour said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Estelle Balet as we send our deepest sympathy and condolences during this very difficult time."

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