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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 19:50 GMT
French ski champion dies
Cavagnoud raced in the season-opener giant slalom on Saturday
Cavagnoud raced in the season-opener giant slalom
Reigning super-G ski champion Regine Cavagnoud has died in hospital, two days after a high-speed training crash.

Cavagnoud suffered severe brain injuries when she collided with German ski coach Markus Anwander on an Austrian glacier on Monday.

The 31-year-old had been in an induced coma and breathing only with the aid of a respirator since the accident.

French sport has lost one of its great champions
French President Jacques Chirac

On Wednesday doctors took the decision to turn off her life support machine and she was surrounded by her family when she died.

Dr Wolfgang Koller, the head of the trauma intensive care unit at the Innsbruck University Clinic, said on Wednesday: "We made final examinations that made it very clear that the brain of Regine Cavagnoud was not working at all."

Her death has led to mourning throughout France, with spectators at sporting events paying their respects to the skiier.

A minute's silence was observed before the match between Fabrice Santoro and Hicham Arazi at the Paris Masters tennis tournament.

And the tribute will be repeated before the Champions League match between Lille and Manchester United on Wednesday night.

French President Jacques Chirac has sent a letter of condolence to her parents.

He said: "French sport has lost one of its great champions today.

Formal investigation

"Regine has made her mark on world skiing with her boundless generosity and her outstanding courage in the face of adversity."

Cavagnoud suffered heart failure on the slopes after colliding with the trainer at about 62 mph (100 kph) on the Pitz Valley glacier in Tyrol.

Paramedics managed to revive her and she underwent four hours of emergency surgery to her brain, rib-cage and liver.

But her condition failed to improve and doctors on Tuesday ruled out further surgery.

Anwander, 40, was also in a critical condition but stable in Innsbruck hospital's intensive care ward after the crash.

Prosecutors have opened a formal investigation into the cause of the crash.

'Outstanding courage'

French women's Alpine ski team chief Jean-Philippe Vuillet said: "The German trainer should have received a radio signal informing him that the French skier was going down."

"For some reason, he apparently did not get that signal.

"We tried to wave to him to let him know that she was coming.

"She did not go off track and when the crash happened she just could not see him."

The skier had just returned from injury and grabbed a surprise third place in the World Cup giant slalom at Soelden on Saturday.

Olympic skier Graham Bell
"She was a fantastic skier"
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