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Post-Olympics avalanche kills two at Rosa Khutor, Sochi

The high peaks of Rosa Khutor that provided such a spectacular backdrop for Olympic slopestyle skiing, turned deadly this weekend; Photo courtesy of USSA.
The high peaks of Rosa Khutor that provided such a spectacular backdrop for Olympic slopestyle skiing and snowboarding turned deadly this weekend. Photo courtesy USSA

Two skiers were killed Sunday when an avalanche swept onto an inbounds run at Rosa Khutor, the site of the Sochi Olympics alpine and freeskiing/snowboarding events. It was just the second day the resort had reopened for public use since the Winter Games concluded in February.

"We were skiing on the slope of Rosa Khutor, got tired, and sat down to rest," witness Mikhail Karamyshev told the Komsomolskaya Pravda. "Suddenly we saw an avalanche sliding down. It appeared literally within seconds and practically swept away everything in its path. Those sitting and resting were knocked over and carried away in the direction of the ravine."

In all, six skiers were taken by the slide, the origin of which has yet to be determined. Four were able to dig themselves out with help from onlookers, with one sustaining a broken arm, according to news agency RT. The slide affected a trail known as Labrint—an expert run that cuts under potential avalanche terrain.

Rescuers were able to locate the remaining two skiers quickly, but were unable to save the two women.

The tragedy unfolds in the wake of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which featured many complaints from ski and snowboard competitors, including American downhill racer Bode Miller, who considered the venue "treacherous". Still, no major accidents marred the Games, though New York Times reporter John Branch had hinted at the possibility of a major slide via Twitter, “given terrain, little weather history.”

Though crowds were far less than in weeks previous, the latest tragedy at Rosa Khutor will surely be a sad blemish on the Olympic venue's legacy.

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