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Swiss Alps avalanche claims French Olympic snowboarder

Julie Pomagalski competes in World Cup action at Whiteface Mountain on March 3, 2005. (Enterprise file photo — Lou Reuter)

PARIS (AP) — Julie Pomagalski, a former Olympic snowboarder from France, has died in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps. She was 40.

Pomagalski competed in the parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 2006 Turin Games. She won gold in the snowboard cross at the world championships in 1999. She also competed in three World Cup events at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington from 2005-07, taking gold in 2006 in a parallel giant slalom race.

The French ski federation said Wednesday that Pomagalski died Tuesday but did not specify the location. French and Swiss media widely reported that the avalanche took place on Gemsstock mountain in the Swiss canton of Uri.

The federation said a guide, Bruno Cutelli, also died in the avalanche.

The French Olympic team offered its condolences on Twitter.

“The tragic death of Julie, an Olympian and world champion snowboarder, leaves the French Olympic team in mourning for one of its own,” the team said.

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