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Skiing star Kasha Rigby dies after being caught in Kosovo avalanche

Kasha Rigby

Catherine “Kasha” Rigby, an international skiing star who was dubbed the “pioneer of extreme telemarking,” died on Feb. 13 after she was caught in an avalanche at a ski resort in Kosovo. She was 54.

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Rigby was skiing at the Ski Center in Brezovica, Kosovo when she got caught up in a “small avalanche” that led to a “high-force collision with trees,” Ski Magazine reported. Rigby, who lived and skied in Utah, died from her injuries after she was swept into some trees, KSL-TV reported.

According to People, officials said the avalanche was about 82 feet wide and 32 feet high.

She was traveling with her fiancé, Magnus Wolfe Murray, who located her 20 seconds after she was swept away. She suffered internal bleeding in her chest and damage to her lungs, the magazine reported.

Telemark skiing is a skill that combines the elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing, according to the Olympics website.

Rigby’s aggressive style earned her a ticket into the 1996 U.S. Extreme Championships, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Two years later she graced the cover of Outside magazine, which called her “the best female telemark skier in the known universe.”

“Alpine skiers look like their feet are stuck in cement,” Rigby said in that article, the Tribune reported. “Telly skiing is about mobility, rhythm, and balance.

“And, of course, speed. I love to go fast -- really fast.”

Rigby appeared in the 2001 film about skiing, “Cold Fusion, the Tribune reported.

She also skied first descents on mountains across the world, including in Lebanon, India, Mongolia and the Baffin Islands, according to the newspaper.

“Her passion for skiing and adventurous spirit touched the lives of many, and we want to ensure that her legacy is remembered with the respect and admiration she deserves,” Eric Henderson, a friend and operator of a public relations firm in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement, according to KSL. “She always loved paths unknown and she followed many of them throughout the beautiful, winding trajectory of her life. She has touched so many lives and we will all miss her dearly,”

Rigby was born in Stowe, Vermont, in 1970, according to People. She moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, when she was 22 to compete in telemark racing and extreme skiing events, the magazine reported.

At 22 years old, she moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, to compete in telemark racing and extreme-skiing competitions.

Rigby made history as one of three American women to ski an 8,000-meter (more than 26,000 feet) peak at the top of Cho Oyu in the Himalayas, People reported.

She achieved the feat with Hilaree Nelson and Willie Benegas on the mountain, the sixth highest in elevation in the world at 26,864 feet, according to the magazine. The mountain straddles the border between China and Nepal and is 12 miles west of Mount Everest.