Kasha Rigby, US Skier and Ultimate Survival Alaska Contestant, Dies in Kosovo Avalanche

The telemark skier died within seconds after she was hit by the avalanche

Katherine “Kasha” Rigby, renowned US competitive skier and telemark skier, died in an avalanche in Kosovo on Tuesday, reports Ski magazine. She was 54.

A small avalanche hit around 2:30 p.m. at the Ski Center in Brezovica, Kosovo. Rigby was then swept off the trail into the trees. Officials said the avalanche was about 82 feet wide and 32 feet high.

She was traveling with her fiancé, Magnus Wolfe Murray, who located her 20 seconds after the avalanche impacted her. He immediately attempted CPR to save her. However, she died within seconds after the avalanche hit. She suffered internal bleeding in her chest and damage to her lungs.

The incident was triggered by Rigby dropping in at the top of the run, stated officials, reports Ski magazine. The Kosovo Mountain Search and Rescue Service said they received a call to attend to the location of the avalanche referred to as “Eagle’s Nest” — which is known as a high-risk area for these natural disasters, reports EuroNews.Albania.

A few days before her death, the celebrated skier shared a photo from her trip and reported that there were dangerous conditions at the ski resort. “Sideways rain, a big melt, and winds too high to run lifts, doesn’t keep these skiers and sledders off the t-bar and slope,” she wrote in her final Instagram. She was in Kosovo for the Tour de Piste, which recruits expert skiers to navigate popular ski resorts’ unknown ski runs at popular locations.

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Rigby was born in Stowe, Vermont, in 1970. She learned how to ski as soon as she could walk and began training on the East Coast slopes. During her childhood, she became a telemark skier. Telemark skiing is a combination of Alpine and Nordic skiing when the athlete “will bend their knees every time they have to turn. The heel is attached to the front of the binding by a hinged cable,” per the Olympics official site.

At 22 years old, she moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, to compete in telemark racing and extreme-skiing competitions.

According to Ski Magazine, Rigby redefined the sport “with her high-speed, hard-driving style.”

In 1995, she joined the North Face Team, and she skied all over the U.S., Canada, South America, New Zealand, Russia, Asia, Europe, India, and the Middle East. During a North Face expedition, she skied the highest peak in Siberia on the border of Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and China. She also skied the Mongolian Five Holy Peaks.

She made history as one of three American women to ski an 8000m peak, which she did with Hilaree Nelson and Willie Benegas at the top of Cho Oyu in the Himalayas.

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In 2015, she competed in the National Geographic series, Ultimate Survival Alaska, and earned second place.

More recently, Rigby had slowed down her skiing expeditions and began earthquake relief work. She worked in Kathmandu, Nepal, and in Turkey with her fiancé Wolfe.

She also assisted with the Rohingya refugee crisis and worked with the World Food Program in Bangladesh for three years.

She is survived by her fiancé. The two were planning to marry this September.

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