Promising U.S. skiers killed in avalanche

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(CNN – Jan. 5, 2015) — An avalanche in Austria claimed the lives of two promising young ski racers Monday, the U.S. Ski Team said.

Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, were among a group of six athletes freeskiing at an Austrian resort. The four others managed to ski out of the slide, the team said on its website.

“Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in a statement. “Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them.”

Berlack, from Franconia, New Hampshire, was named to the U.S. Ski Team’s Development Team after a spring 2013 tryout camp. He finished 11th in downhill and 17th in super G at the 2013 U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw Valley, California.

Astle, from Sandy, Utah, had been invited to train with the development team. He was 13th in giant slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships last March, ending as the top junior.

Messages are being left at the team’s official Facebook page.

The avalanche occurred at around 2,800 meters (about 9,200 feet) in elevation. There was a level-three avalanche risk in the area (out of five) for places above 2,200 meters (7,200 feet).

CNN’s Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

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