May 30, 2009

Olympic medalist Ruby killed in accident

French snowboarder Karine Ruby, who won a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and a companion died in a climbing accident, authorities say.

Capt. Benoit Tonanny of the Chamonix commune gendarmerie in France said the 31-year-old Olympic snowboarder and her fellow climber were killed in the Mont Blanc Massif mountain range Friday, The New York Times reported Saturday. A third climber was critically injured.

Tonnany said Ruby was ahead of the two other climbers Friday when she fell into a 70-foot crevasse.

The identities of the two other climbers and any potential survivors of Ruby's were not reported.

Joel Franitch, director of snowboarding for the French Skiing Federation, said the death of Ruby was a tragic loss for the world of snowboarding.

In the snowboarding world, she was an unavoidable icon, Franitch told the Times It's a huge loss for the sport.

In addition to winning a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Ruby won a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.