Skier dies after crashing hundreds of feet down icy slope in Austria


A young woman died and two skiers had to be airlifted to hospital after separate crashes on a ski slope in Austria, as authorities warned of treacherous conditions.
The woman, a 28-year-old from the Netherlands, lost control of her skis and slid hundreds of feet down an icy slope at the Hintertux resort, in the Tyrol region.
According to authorities, she broke through a snow fence at a turn in the slope and fell onto rough terrain below the piste, where she hit a tree. She died at the scene.
Her companion also lost control at the same spot and hit rocky terrain. She was seriously injured and had to be taken by helicopter to hospital.
Half an hour later, a German tourist crashed at exactly the same spot and also had to be airlifted to a local hospital.
The ski season across the northern and western Alps has so far been hit by unusually warm conditions, leading authorities to warn of icy conditions and a lack of off-piste snow that would normally cushion falls.
Ski resorts are also having to rely on artificial snow, which turns icy more quickly than natural snow in warm conditions.
A spokesman for the Tyrol Hospital Association told Bild newspaper that up to 200 skiers had arrived in emergency rooms during the current holiday period.
“We’ve already had five people who’ve suffered serious spinal injuries. That’s quite a lot for such a short season,” said the spokesman.
At least five people have died in Austria during the current ski season, despite the fact that it is still in its early stages.
In a typical season, an average of 28 skiers die in accidents on the Austrian slopes.
Last week, two German teenagers died after they crashed off the edge of a piste at high speed at the Steinplatte resort and landed on an exposed, rocky field.
A day later, a Belgian skier flew from the piste and hit a tree in St Anton resort. He died of his injuries at the site.
Austrian authorities have cautioned skiers to take care due to the dangerous conditions.
After heavy snowfall in the weeks leading up to Christmas, warm weather washed out the festive ski season in many Alpine resorts.
The French Alps have been badly hit, with days of rainfall leaving many slopes closed.