2 US Ski Team Hopefuls Lose Lives in Avalanche

Bryce Astle, Ronnie BerlackTwo members of the US Ski Team tragically lost their lives on Monday, January 5, as they were unable to avoid an avalanche on a training run in Solden, Austria. Ronnie Berlack, 20, was from New Hampshire, and Bryce Astle, 19, hailed from Utah. Both were hoping to someday compete on the US Olympic team, and they had a great shot at it.

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Sasha Rearick, the head coach of the US men's ski team, said in a statement, "It's our worst nightmare come true ... We've never had a death of one of our athletes from an avalanche. Unfortunately, there were no coaches with them at that time. There was a call, and people tried to dig them out."

They were with a group of six skiers when the avalanche struck. The other four were able to ski out of the slide and were unharmed. The area had been on alert thanks to a "treacherous combination of mild temperatures and heavy snowfall."

Berlack was named to the US Ski Team's Development Team in 2013, after training at the famed Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. His dad, Steve Berlack, admitted that his death hasn't sunk in yet. "I'm not bitter," he admitted. "We're dealing with it. I'm still sort of numb."

Astle just joined the team this season. Rearick described the teen as a "fun-loving guy," who "loved being on the mountain." He recalled, "[He] loved being outside. I remember calling him up and inviting him to a training camp, and four hours later he was there, ready to go."

US Ski and Snowboard Association President Tiger Shaw also released a statement, saying, "Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport -- both on the race course and skiing the mountain ... Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them."

What an awful loss for two young men who seemed to inspire so many. One friend wrote of Astle on the US Ski Team's Facebook fan page, "Bryce buddy I'm gonna miss you ... thanks for pushing me to tackle all my fears both on and off the course but always on the mountain. This is too shocking for my own mind."

Are you saddened by this news?

 

Image via US Ski Team/Facebook

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