Two development-level ski racers with the U.S. Ski Team were killed Monday in an avalanche that occurred near the Soelden ski area in the Austrian Alps.
Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, died as a result of the avalanche while skiing in a six-member group at the team's European training area, according to the Associated Press.
The group was skiing near the Rettenbach glacier in the mountains over Soelden, the venue for the annual season-opening World Cup races, when the incident occurred.
Four members of the group were able to ski out of the slide and escape without injury, the Associated Press reported.
"Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport - both on the race course and skiing the mountain," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw in a press release. "Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them."
An avalanche alert had been declared for the area after days of heavy snowfall and mild temperatures, the Associated Press reported.