mont blanc sales French Snowboarding Star
Karine Ruby, who became one of snowboarding’s first stars when she won a gold medal for France at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, died Friday morning in a climbing accident in the Mont Blanc Massif near Chamonix, France. She was 31.
She was killed after falling into a 70 foot crevasse while leading two climbers on a tour through the Tour Ronde section, said Capt. Benot Tonanny of the gendarmerie in Chamonix. One other climber was killed, and the third was in critical condition when he was airlifted to a hospital.
Ruby, who had competed at the highest level since she was a teenager, was the most decorated female snowboarder in the world, with 2 Olympic medals, 6 world championship titles and 67 snowboard World Cup victories.
“In the snowboarding world, she was an unavoidable icon,” Joel Franitch, the French Skiing Federation’s director of snowboarding, said in a telephone interview. “It’s a huge loss for the sport.”
She picked up silver in the parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, finishing behind her countrywoman Isabelle Blanc. At the time, the pair dedicated their performance to the memory of the celebrated French skier Rgine Cavagnoud, who died four months earlier in a training accident.
This time, Franitch said, the team will be dedicating its 2010 Vancouver Games to Ruby’s memory. He had intended to include her in the snowboarders’ preparations because she had been to all three Olympic snowboard competitions.
Since retiring after the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, where she was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the snowboardcross event, Ruby had devoted herself to her passion for climbing. She grew up in the mountainous region of Haute Savoie, and the Alps were always her backyard. She was training to be a certified guide, which takes anywhere from 5 to 15 years.