Two U.S. Ski Team developmental racers were killed in an avalanche in Soelden, Austria, on Monday when a group of six set out to freeski in an at-risk area, according to a U.S. Ski Team release. Four of the six were unharmed, but Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, did not survive.
An avalanche alert had been in place in the area following days of heavy snowfall and mild temperatures, according to the AP.
“We are all in shock, still. It’s very tragic,” U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml told the AP from Croatia, where the team races on Tuesday night.
“Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association president and CEO Tiger Shaw in the press release. “Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them.”
The two young athletes were promising in their respective events. Astle, who competed in the slalom and giant slalom, was coming off two top 10 NorAm Cup finishes in Canada in December, and Berlack finished 11th in downhill and 17th in super-G at the 2013 U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw Valley.