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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 16:50 GMT
Skiing mourns Cavagnoud
Regine Cavagnoud in action
Cavagnoud's death has shocked the skiing world
The world of skiing has paid tribute to France's top woman racer Regine Cavagnoud.

Cavagnoud died on Wednesday from severe brain injuries sustained in a training accident in Austria on Monday.

Germany's world combined champion, Martina Ertl said: "This is a brutal shock for me.

"I had hoped so much that she would survive without any permanent damage.

"Not just me, but everyone who has known her for years on the circuit is unbelievably sad."

She had become the pride of a region and of a whole nation
French President Jacques Chirac
Austria's Brigitte Obermoser, who like Cavagnoud also competed in the speed disciplines of downhill and super-G, said she had respected Cavagnoud's fairness and ferocious talent as a skier.

"It's difficult to grasp that she's now no longer with us.

"We had always met during training, in the hotels, on the pistes where you of course always speak to one another," she said.

Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister, who won last weekend's season-opening giant slalom on a glacier in nearby Soelden where Cavagnoud finished third, said she was devastated.

"Now and again you do think during training that something can happen because so many people are on the course. But that it can be so horrific..." she said.

Karl Frehsner, head trainer of the Austrian women's ski team, said the accident demonstrated how risky the sport remained.

Martina Ertl
Ertl: Shocked and saddened
"Regine was a quiet, very pleasant athlete who made her mark on Alpine skiing with her personality and charisma," he said.

"We must now do our utmost to ensure that our women racers do not lose their confidence."

Fritz Wagnerberger, president of Germany's ski federation, whose women skiers were training on the glacier together with the French women when Cavagnoud crashed, said he was deeply shocked.

"Words offer no comfort in such a situation. However, in this dark hour we would like to express our sincere condolences," he said.

French president Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and sports minister Marie-George Buffet all paid tribute to Cavagnoud on Wednesday.

"Her immense talent was realised last season in the most wonderful way when she won a gold at the World Championships.

"She had become the pride of a region and of a whole nation," Chirac said in a letter to her family.

British skier Chemmy Alcott
"It will be hard for the girls closest to her"
See also:

31 Oct 01 |  Other Sports
French ski champion dies
31 Oct 01 |  Other Sports
Life's risk-takers
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