Snowboarding champion dies in Swiss avalanche

Estelle Balet was the current top ranked rider

image via meltyxtrem.fr

image via meltyxtrem.fr

A Swiss snowboarding champion has died in an avalanche after a slab of snow broke away and swept her down a slope during a film shoot.

Estelle Balet, who won the Freeride World Tour in 2015 and is currently its top ranked rider, died in the mountains above the Swiss village of Orsieres despite efforts to save her.

Last year, the 21-year-old became the youngest champion of the Freeride World Tour, in which skiers and snowboarders compete by riding down steep, often rocky ungroomed slopes.

Events are sometimes halted due to avalanches, including last February at a competition in Austria.

Police said Balet was the second person to ride down the slope on Tuesday during filming.

She had been freed from the avalanche by the time emergency crews arrived.

"Despite immediate efforts to revive her, she died at the scene," police said. "An investigation has been started to determine the causes of the accident."

Balet had been wearing a device meant to help locate people in avalanches, as well as a helmet and an airbag designed to increase the chances of surviving a snow slide.

The Freeride World Tour called Balet a "shining star" and described her death as a "tremendous loss".

"Estelle Balet was a naturally gifted shining star and demonstrated remarkable talent as she quickly became a household name on the Freeride World Tour, bringing home her second title as World Champion just a few weeks ago in Verbier," it said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Estelle Balet as we send our deepest sympathy and condolences during this very difficult time."

Balet had been snowboarding since aged 10.