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U.S. Ski Team Honors Developmental Teammates Who Were Killed In An Avalanche

(Giovanni Auletta/AP Photo)
(Giovanni Auletta/AP Photo)

U.S. Ski Team members wore helmet tape and armbands with “Remember BA + RB” on them on Tuesday.

This was to honor two U.S. Ski Team prospects, Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19,  who were killed in an avalanche in Soelden, Austria. This was the first time in U.S. Ski Team history that someone on the team was killed in an avalanche.

Screen shot 2015-01-06 at 4.31.08 PMBerlack and Astle were with four others at the U.S. Ski Team’s European training headquarters, skiing off trail when disaster struck. The four others were able to ski away from the slide.

Teammate David Chodounsky ended up skiing one of his best runs ever in the first leg of the World Cup slalom race in Croatia, and as he crossed the finish line, he pointed to his helmet tape. It was the third-fastest time of the day.

The run was clearly for Berlack and Astle.

“The entire U.S. ski team is mourning for them,” Chodounsky said. “We’re just skiing for them today. They were great guys.” (Associated Press via ESPN)

In addition to the tape and armbands, a moment of silence was held and the U.S. flag flew at half-staff in the finish area.

“Those two kids were amazing people,” teammate Will Brandenburg added. “I mean, great skiers, but truly amazing people. And I got a great opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with them and help them throughout the summer with travel and training.”

It’s clear that when burden is shared, it’s easier to deal with. It’s also evident that when burden is carried on skis, it’s not only healing but motivating.

Our thoughts are with the U.S. Ski team and the friends and family of Berlack and Astle.

Avalanches don’t know talent. Anyone is susciceptible to being caught in a slide, and once you’re caught, your chances of survival are very low. In fact, after 35 minutes of being buried, your chance of survival is only 27%. Carry avalanche equipment (beacon, probe, and shovel), and educate yourself.

Kim Constantinesco

Kim Constantinesco

As the founder and editor-in-chief of Purpose2Play.com, Kim Constantinesco dives under the surface hype to illuminate heroes in the sports world. Whether talking with the first man with cerebral palsy to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the first woman to mountain bike across Afghanistan, Kim has a keen interest in shining the spotlight on ordinary people doing extraordinary things. She believes it's time media starts placing a higher value on the people and communities who are actively doing something to make the world a little better. Previously, she covered the Denver Broncos and the NFL for seven seasons. Her work has been featured on NFL.com, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, The New York Times, and USA Today. She resides in Denver, CO. When not working, she can be found deep in the Rocky Mountains throwing backflips on her snowboard. Follow Kim on Twitter: @KimCon14
Kim Constantinesco

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