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Olympic snowboarder Julie Pomagalski dies in avalanche at 40

Julie Pomagalski competed on the French Olympic team in 2002 and 2006.
Julie Pomagalski from France reacts 23 February, 2006 following the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics Ladies' Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom race in Bardonecchia, Italy.Jeff Haynes / AFP via Getty Images
/ Source: AP (Associated Press)

Julie Pomagalski, a former Olympic snowboarder from France, has died in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps. She was 40.

Pomagalski competed in the parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 2006 Turin Games. She won gold in the snowboard cross at the world championships in 1999.

The French ski federation said Wednesday that Pomagalski died Tuesday but did not specify the location. French and Swiss media widely reported that the avalanche took place on Gemsstock mountain in the Swiss canton of Uri.

OLY W Parallel GS Final X
Pomagalski competes in the parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Al Bello / Getty Images

The federation said a guide, Bruno Cutelli, also died in the avalanche.

Uri police said that four people from France were free-riding on the descent from Gemsstock.

“Suddenly there was an avalanche for reasons that are still unknown,” the police statement said. “As a result, three people slid down the slope with the avalanche. One person was slightly injured and flown by Rega to Kantonsspital Uri hospital. The other two people were completely covered. Any help came too late for them.”

Police did not identify the victims. The rescue team included two avalanche search dogs.

The French Olympic team offered its condolences on Twitter.

“The tragic death of Julie, an Olympian and world champion snowboarder, leaves the French Olympic team in mourning for one of its own,” the team said.