Julie Pomagalski, French former snowboard world champion, dies in Swiss avalanche

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Julie Pomagalski, France's former world champion snowboarder, has been killed in an avalanche in Switzerland, the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) has announced.

Pomagalski, 40, was swept away while skiing off-piste in a group of four in the canton of Uri, officials said.

Another French freeride snowboarder was also killed in the avalanche.

Pomagalski was a teenager when she became world champion in snowboard cross in 1999.

She took the World Cup title for the discipline in 2004 and registered nine wins on the World Cup circuit. In 2002 she competed in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and four years later in the Turin Games.

"Julie's tragic disappearance has left the French Olympic team in mourning for one of their own," CNOSF said in a post on Twitter.

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Police said the avalanche struck on Tuesday as the group was descending from the Gemsstock mountain. The 2,961m (10,000ft) summit is popular with off-piste skiers because of its steep slopes and powder snow.

"For reasons still unknown a sheet of snow broke away", sweeping three of the skiers away, officials said.

Pomagalski and the other skier who was killed - named by the French ski federation as Bruno Putelli, a mountain rescuer from Albertville - "were completely buried". The third person suffered minor injuries.

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