Horrible horrible news coming out of Soelden, Austria today.
20-year-old Ronnie Berlack from Vermont and 19-year-old Bryce Astle from Utah were freeskiing off-piste between races on 3,056-meter Gaislachkogel peak with 4 others when an avalanche struck and buried them. The other four skiers were able to ski out of the avalanche unhurt. Ronnie and Bryce weren’t extracted from the snow for over 45-minutes. Ronnie and Bryce did not survive. It’s unclear if any of the six were wearing avalanche beacons or not.
Officials are reporting that this region of Austria, Tyrol, had received an avalanche alert after the zone had received days of heavy snowfall and mild temperatures.
“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.” – U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw
Both Ronnie and Bryce were on the US Ski Team’s Development Team and were both very promising racers.
“They all have the potential (to be on the World Cup),” Riml said. “These two boys were among the other eight boys who are our future. We believed in these guys, that’s why we selected them.”
“He was hoping … to be in the next Olympics, that was his goal and he was pretty much on his way.” – Bryce’s mother Laura Astle