Former snowboarding champion Karine Ruby dies in climbing fall

Former Olympic snowboarding champion Karine Ruby of France has died Friday, following a mountain accident.

Former Olympic snowboarding champion Karine Ruby of France has died Friday, following a mountain accident.

Ruby fell into a crevasse while climbing Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, located on the French-Italian border. She was training to become a mountain guide.

Lt.-Col. Pierre Bouquin, a police official in Chamonix, said Ruby was roped to other climbers when she fell into the crevasse. Ruby and one other climber, a 38-year-old man from the Paris region, died in the fall, while a 27-year-old man was seriously injured.

The group was climbing across a glacier on their way down the mountain when the accident took place, Sayssac said. The injured man was evacuated by helicopter and has been hospitalized.

The 31-year-old dominated her sport for almost a decade. She has 65 wins on the world cup circuit, six world championships to her name, and two Olympic medals (gold in 1998, silver in 2002).

She retired after the 2006 Olympics, when she was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the snowboardcross event. She was expected to wrap up her mountain guide training in the coming weeks.

In a statement Friday, French Prime Minister François Fillon hailed Ruby as an "exceptional sportswoman."

"Karine incarnated the emergence of snowboarding in France," the statement said. "The people of France will hold on to the memory of her talent and her joie de vivre."

With files from The Associated Press