A British skiing tourist has died after an off-piste accident in the French Alps, emergency services confirmed on Sunday. The skier, who was 50 years old, suffered a cardiac arrest as well as multiple fractures, after “taking off” at “very high speed” and landing on a slope covered with rocks, according to The Times.
The incident took place in the Saulire sector of the popular Meribel resort, where the world skiing championships are ongoing. French media reported that the Brit was pronounced dead at the scene.
In less than fifteen minutes after being notified of the crash, mountain rescue staff from Courchevel were on-site, according to local reports.
A spokesperson for local ski operator Meribel Alpina said: “Early afternoon this Sunday, February 12, a 50-year-old British citizen skiing off-piste in Meribel was found in cardiac arrest and polytraumatised following a violent fall.
“The ski patrol rescuers were very quickly on site and reinforced by a medical team who arrived by helicopter.”
Those that witness the accident are said to be “in shock” and are currently receiving professional psychological help.
An investigation by French police is underway, with the high speed at which the skier was travelling thought to be the cause of the fatality.
“The whole resort would like to express their full support to his family in these very painful circumstances,” the Meribel Alpina spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who died in France and are in contact with the local authorities.”
It’s not yet clear whether the man was in Meribel to take in the Alpine World Ski Championships, taking place in the resort and nearby Courchevel until Feb 19. According to the French National Mountain Safety Observation System (SNOSM), 12 deaths were recorded in the 2021/22 ski season.
The number of injuries was far higher, with 45,000 people treated during the same period, whilst the emergency services attended 50,000 incidents.