Ski team in shock over avalanche deaths of 2 US prospects - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Ski team in shock over avalanche deaths of 2 US prospects

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Described by their coach as "two great young men", 20-year-old Ronnie Berlack and 19-year old Bryce Astle, promising prospects for the US Ski team died tragically during a downhill run at their training facility in Soelden, Austria.

It was during recreational free-skiing with four other teammates that Berlack and Astle left the prepared slope and apparently set off an avalanche during a ten-thousand foot descent.  

Tom Kelly, USSA Vice President, "Skiers, whether they're athletes on the US ski team or recreational skiers like all of us, you like to get out on the mountain and you like to ski."

Only Berlack, from Franconia, New Hampshire, and Astle, from Sandy, Utah, were trapped--the other four escaped unharmed.

A spokesman for the mountain rescue group told NBC the pair was not wearing avalanche detection devices. Instead, search crews had to locate them using poles and digging by hand.

Their bodies were found in approximately 12-feet of snow.

Resuscitation efforts by two doctors failed.  

Among their training companions in Austria and back in their US hometowns the news is devastating.

Tom Kelly, "As with any incident, you look at it, see what you can learn, we certainly will do that as an organization to see if there's anything we can learn from this."

"But right now our thoughts are with the families of  Brice and Ronnie and with the entire ski racing community. We've lost two really great young men."

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