French Ski Federation says skier killed at Nakiska may have hit tree 'after going through the safety netting'

The French Ski Federation says an early investigation into the death of David Poisson suggests the safety netting failed and he hit a tree.

35-year-old athlete David Poisson died in training-run crash

In this Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, file photo, France's David Poisson celebrates his third place after completing a men's World Cup downhill in Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy. (Alessandro Trovati/Associated Press)

The French Ski Federation says an early investigation into the death of David Poisson suggests the safety netting failed and he hit a tree.

The 35-year-old Poisson died on Monday while training at Alberta's Nakiska Ski Area, which staged alpine skiing races during the 1988 Olympics.

The assessment from French officials is consistent with what police said Monday.

Kananaskis RCMP said Poisson died as a result of injuries he suffered after he caught an edge and crashed through safety netting, striking a tree.

The French federation issued a statement on Tuesday saying Poisson lost a ski then fell heavily, and "might have hit a tree after going through the safety netting."

Paramedics declared him dead at the scene, according to Calgary EMS spokesman Adam Loria.

Poisson, who won the downhill bronze medal at the 2013 world championships, was training for World Cup races in North America.

French sports minister Laura Flessel expressed her "sadness" over Poisson's death and said she will look carefully into the circumstances of the crash.

Poisson competed in the last Winter Olympics and hoped to qualify for the Pyeongchang Games in 2018.

France's David Poisson competes during the men's downhill Alpine Ski World Cup race in Kvitfjell, Norway, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (Gabriele Facciotti/Associated Press)

Retired Canadian ski racer Kelly VanderBeek, who knew Poisson on the World Cup circuit and in her after-sport career as a broadcaster, described him as a an outgoing, friendly guy. 

"He was the guy on the circuit that everybody liked," she said.

"I think every circle of friends has that one guy who is just quick to smile, quick to laugh, has an energy that is very approachable."

VanderBeek said Poisson's father died two weeks earlier and her thoughts are with his family.

"His family is suffering some pretty serious loss right now," she said.

The International Ski Federation expressed its condolences to Poisson's family and friends in a statement, praising "a respected and accomplished athlete on the World Cup tour ever since his debut in 2004."

'You're not supposed to go through netting'

An official with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which operates Nakiska, said several teams, including France, have been training at the resort in preparation for the upcoming World Cup season.

"They take care of their own training. They set their own courses. They do everything themselves," Matt Mosteller said.

"It's just horrible that this has happened and really our hearts are torn apart by it and our thoughts and prayers are with his family in France," he added.

VanderBeek said her understanding is that the course setup at Nakiska was "pretty normal" for a training run but those typically involve less netting than a race environment.

News of Poisson's death has "really hit home" in the ski racing community, she added.

"It's quite shocking," VanderBeek said.

"You're not supposed to go through netting. At the end of the day, that's not supposed to happen."

with files from CBC News