David Poisson, a popular French national ski team veteran and former Olympian, was killed Monday morning in a training crash near Calgary, Alberta.
Poisson, 35, was a World Cup bronze medalist in 2013 and competed in the Vancouver and Sochi Winter Olympics. Hoping to qualify for the Pyeongchang Games in February, he was training for World Cup races in North America in the resort of Nakiska and, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police, crashed through safety netting after catching an edge. He struck a tree and died at the scene.
"When we arrived we assessed an individual and determined him deceased on scene," Calgary EMS spokesperson Adam Loria said (via the National Post). "There was no transfer to hospital. We initially called out STARS [air ambulance], but once we made the determination we did stand the helicopter down."
The news of Poisson's death was confirmed by the French skiing federation, which said it joins "the pain of his loved ones in these particularly difficult times."
Laura Flessel, France's minister of sports, said the circumstances of the crash involving the popular skier whose nickname was "Caillou" (for "small stone" because of his small, stocky build) will be investigated.
Poisson was praised by the International Ski Federation as a "respected and accomplished athlete on the World Cup tour ever since his debut in 2004." Poisson was seventh in downhill skiing in the 2010 Vancouver games and 16th in the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Chemmy Alcott, a four-time Olympic skier, tweeted that he was "such a lovely man," and added, "Can't believe the tragic news. A great guy who was always either charging or smiling."
The Lake Louise Audi FIS Ski World Cup will take place next weekend. Poisson is his country's first alpine World Cup skiing death since Regine Cavagnoud was killed in a training accident in 2001.
"There is no word for that," former French downhiller Luc Alphand told L'Equipe. "Eliminating risk entirely in downhill is impossible."