Two US skiers die in Austrian avalanche

- Young athletes were part of US national team.

ANKARA (AA) - Two young U.S. ski racers have died after being caught in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps on Monday.

Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, were free-skiing in preparation for the Alpine Skiing World Cup near Soelden with four teammates from the U.S. squad, Austrian officials said.

The pair’s teammates escaped unhurt.

Tiger Shaw, president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, said: "The two victims were outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport."

Berlack was a member of the Franconia Ski Club, New Hampshire and was a downhiller who had trained at Burke Mountain Academy.

Astle was a slalom/giant slalom racer.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Berlack and Astle were "young men who make their country proud, they dedicate their lives to their passion which is the performance of their sports. This is truly a tragedy."

Burke Mountain Academy said it was "devastated” to learn of Berlack's death.

"Berlack was someone we all loved and deeply respected. He had a huge spirit. There is no one who better represents our core values than Berlack," the academy said in a statement.

Officials in Austria’s Tyrolean region said an avalanche alert had been declared for the area after days of heavy snowfall and mild temperatures, according to AP news agency.

www.aa.com.tr/en

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