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World snowboarding champion dies in avalanche

Two-time extreme snowboarding world champion Estelle Balet has been killed in an avalanche. Her death came shortly after she had won her second world title.

An avalanche on Tuesday has killed two-time world extreme snowboard champion Estelle Balet in the Swiss Alps, police have confirmed.

The 21-year-old Balet, who had only won her second straight title on the Freeride World Tour two weeks ago, was making a film when she was swept away, a statement released by police in the canton of Valais said.

Balet was on her snowboard speeding down a slope near the resort of Orsieres when the avalanche started and carried her away, police added. Another snowboarder had been on the slope just before Balet passed.

At the time of her death, Balet was wearing a tracking device, an airbag and a helmet. Rescuers managed to pull her out of the snow, however, "despite an attempt to resuscitate her, she died at the scene of the accident," the police statement said.

"I feel a huge sadness, a feeling of bitterness and above all solidarity with her family and friends," Nicolas Hale-Woods, founder of the Freeride World Tour, told the AFP news agency.

"It is a reminder that no matter how well prepared you are, taking part in freeride in the mountains has an element of uncertainty," he added.

Balet, a native of the canton of Valais, had been snowboarding since the age of 10. She first took part in the Freeride World Tour at the junior level.

apc/pfd (AFP, AP)