An Olympic snowboarder from France, Julie Pomagalski, died following an avalanche in the Swiss Alps. She was 40 years old. The French ski federation announced that Pomagalski died Tuesday but did not specify a location. The federation also said a guide, Bruno Cutelli, also died in the avalanche.
"Suddenly there was an avalanche for reasons that are still unknown," the Uri police statement said per USA Today. "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."
Former snowboard champion Julie Pomagalski dies in an avalanche in Switzerland, the avalanche caught three freeriders in the Steintäler area, in the Unteralptal, descending the Gemsstock, and also caused the death of a guide from the Alps. pic.twitter.com/2Beuq2bVqN— Moises Lopez (@chapoisat) March 24, 2021
Pomagalski competed in the Olympics for France twice. She took part in the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, finishing sixth in the parallel giant slalom. Pomagalski also competed in the 2006 games in Torino, Italy. Pomagalski won the 1999 World Championship in snowboard cross. She also won the 2004 Snowboard World Cup and was the Vice-World Champion in parallel giant in 2003.
"The tragic death of Julie, an Olympian and world champion snowboarder, leaves the French Olympic team in mourning for one of its own," the French Olympic team said on Twitter. The news of Pomagalski comes less than a year before the 2022 Winter Olympics takes place in Beijing, China. There have been talks of boycotting the games due to human rights abuse to minorities in the country.
R.I.P. Julie POMAGALSKI (10 Oct. 1980 – 23 Mar. 2021), French snowboarder. 🇫🇷
She competed at the 2002 & 2006 Winter @Olympics in parallel giant slalom, placing sixth both times.March 24, 2021
"Some individual foreign politicians politicized sports with an attempt to disturb and sabotage the preparations and holding of the Beijing Winter Olympics and called for a boycott," spokesperson Guo Weimin told reporters at a news conference per the Associated Press. These acts are in violation of the Olympic spirit. We believe that the moves will not win support from the international community and are doomed to failure,"