Canadian skier killed in World Cup crash
Canadian skier Nik Zoricic died on Saturday after crashing in a World Cup ski cross race in the Swiss resort of Grindelwald, Alpine Canada said.
Officials said Zoricic crashed in the finish area after the fourth heat of the ski cross finals.
"We`ve lost one of our athletes on the ski World Cup and you can imagine everyone in the organisation is just devastated getting that news this morning," Alpine Canada president Max Gartner said.
"Nik as far as I know is a model athlete. He`s extremely dedicated who has gone about his business and found his home in ski cross."
The 29-year-old Zoricic sustained severe head injuries in the crash. He was airlifted to hospital in Interlaken and was pronounced dead at 12:35 p.m. local time.
Zoricic had raced on the World Cup for more than three years and finished eighth at last year`s world championships.
The cause of death was given as "severe neurotrauma".
"We have been working...very closely with race organisers to assess exactly what happened and what we know is Nik crashed into the safety nets after he completed the final jump during the fourth heat," explained Gartner.
"The accident took place in the finish area, no other racers were involved."
International Ski Federation (FIS) officials immediately abandoned the race and cancelled Sunday`s World Cup events.
Alpine Canada grief counsellors were meeting with skiers, who planned to hold a candlelight memorial in the finish area in Grindelwald, while the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed his condolences.
"This is a very sad day for the whole Olympic Movement," Jacques Rogge said.
"He was a young, gifted athlete who tragically died doing the sport he loved.
"Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his fellow competitors."
It was the second tragedy to rock the Canadian ski racing community this year following the death of Sarah Burke, an X Games champion and gold-medal favourite in the half-pipe at the 2014 Olympics, in a training accident in January in Utah.
"These ski accidents are rare and there is going to be an investigation," Gartner said.
"Safety is at the forefront of the organisation on an ongoing basis, we are always very concerned about our athletes when we send them out to compete against the rest of the world."
Ashley McIvor, a team mate of Zoricic and the women`s champion in ski cross at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, said skiers were aware of the dangers they faced in their sport.
"The ski world is like one big family, in ski cross we are a tight-knit crew," McIvor told reporters. "This is absolutely horrible.
"The fact is there are risks associated with our sport and pretty much everything I do in life.
"We do these sports because we love them but there are risks associated with them and there is only so much we can do to minimise those risks."