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'A gift to us': Families honor young US skiers killed in avalanche

Three days after the tragic death of two of the brightest U.S. Ski Team prospects, the families of Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle are remembering their kind spirits and positive attitudes. 

"Ronnie was a gift to us,'' his father, Steve Berlack, told TODAY in an exclusive interview. "The 20 years that we had with him were remarkable. He had a short life, but it was a very full life."

Berlack, 20, and Astle, 19, were killed on Monday at the U.S. Ski Team's European training base in the mountains of Soelden, Austria, when they triggered an avalanche that buried them in more than 12 feet of snow

"Bryce was always smiling,'' his mother, Laura Astle, told TODAY. "When we moved to Utah, he would wake up every morning and come out to the window and say 'Mom it's another beautiful day.''' 

More from the parents of Berlack and Astle: 

  • On the avalanche: "It was a massive slide,'' Berlack said. "They were just, you know, caught up in it. It's just the definition of a tragedy. There's no one to blame. (Ronnie) was ferocious. He had tremendous will and courage. He knew where the fall line was and he wasn't afraid of it." 

  • On Astle's character: "I'm proud of Bryce because he's a very kind young man, and he treated his brothers very special and never acted cocky about what he was doing,'' his mother said. "He was always humble."
Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle.Today

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