A New Hampshire native and contender for the Olympic ski team died in an avalanche in the Austrian alps today, the US Ski Team has confirmed. Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, fell victim to the slide near the team’s training area in Soelden. Berlack was from Franconia, New Hampshire, and trained at Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy before joining the American ski team. Astle was from Sandy, Utah.
The two young men were a part of a group of six on the mountain at the time of the incident. The four other skiers fortunately managed to escape uninjured. The Associated Press reported that the group parted from a “prepared slope’’ and apparently caused the snow slide. Region officials had previously declared an avalanche alert due to mild conditions following a heavy snowfall.
“The U.S. Ski Team is mourning the loss of two promising development-level ski racers’’ the Olympic team said in a statement. “[Ronnie] was off to a strong season last year before suffering a knee injury last January. He had come back, competing in South American Cup races in Chile this summer and in NorAm and FIS races last month in Canada.’’
Berlack and Astle were among 10 “development team’’ skiers chosen to train with Olympic athletes at their European base while they prepared for the World Cup. “These two boys were among the other eight boys who are our future,’’ the US Ski Team’s Alpine Director, Patrick Riml, said in a statement. Riml also told The Associated Press that the rest of the team is in shock.
“We believed in these guys,’’ he said. “That’s why we selected them.’’