Estelle Balet, 21-Year-Old Snowboard Champion, Killed in Avalanche
Estelle Balet, the two-time world champion Swiss snowboarder, was killed in an avalanche on April 19 while making a film in Switzerland.
Officials say 21-year-old Balet was hit by a snow slide in Orsieres, near Switzerland’s southern border with France and Italy. She was following another snowboarder who was not caught in the avalanche.
Valais authorities said rescuers were able to free her, since she was wearing special safety equipment, but she died at the scene. The incident is under investigation.
Balet had recently won the Freeride World Tour for a second year in a row. The global series challenges athletes in extreme conditions and ungroomed snow.
Balet was snowboarding as part of watchmaker Swatch’s professional team. According to the Freeride World Tour, Balet had been competing since 2011.
“The Freeride community has experienced a tremendous loss today as we learned that one of the most hopeful young talents and current snowboard World Champion, Estelle Balet, has tragically passed away in an avalanche,” said Freeride in a statement. “Estelle Balet was a naturally gifted shining star and demonstrated remarkable talent.”
On social media, people posted messages about the death of the young champion.
Very sad news. My thoughts go out to friends and family of Estelle Balet https://t.co/EojAW0ZJfU
— Jenny Jones (@jennyjonessnow) April 19, 2016
R.I.P. Estelle Balet
— Loki (@T0xisch) April 19, 2016
We are terribly sad hearing Estelle Balet, our Proteam athlete, passed away this morning. Our thoughts go to her family and friends
— Swatch (@swatch) April 19, 2016
Our thoughts are with the family & friends of Estelle Balet as we send our deepest sympathy and condolences during this very difficult time
— Freeride World Tour (@FreerideWTour) April 19, 2016
Balet had posted on Instagram a picture two days earlier expressing her excitement over the film.
“Pretty awesome to get to snowboard with this view.. Can’t wait for more filming next week !” she wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.