Renowned US skier dies in Kosovo avalanche

By John Mercury February 20, 2024

Renowned US skier Catherine ‘Kasha’ Rigby has died in an avalanche in Kosovo, her fiance has said.

Rigby, 54, known as Kasha, died on Tuesday at Brezovica mountain resort in Kosovo, Magnis Wofe Murray said in a message response in Facebook.

Mr Murray said on Saturday: “We were to be married in September. Now I’m widowed and devastated.”

The resort’s official account posted on Instagram a picture of rescuers on a snowy hillside near to a foil blanket, and pulling a stretcher, saying its ski centre rescue team “pulled out the victim from very dangerous part of hill when she tragically lost her life, even though they were in danger for their own life.”

It did not specify if it was Ms Rigby.

Rigby was a telemark, big mountain and expedition skier, covering first descents of some of the world’s most revered peaks and had appeared in several films and on a US reality TV show.

Considered one of the best female telemark skiers in the world, she was skiing out of the tourist lanes when an avalanche hit her, police said.

She died despite receiving immediate CPR from Mr Murray and later medical assistance.

Rigby was swept into a pine tree by a small avalanche in the “Eagle’s Nest” area, which is known for its avalanche risks, after dropping in at the top of the run, search and rescue staff said.

She was in Brezovica, 50 miles south of the Kosovan capital, Pristina, with the Tour de Piste, a project made up of expert skiers to navigate uncharted ski runs at popular locations.

In her last Instagram post, on Monday, she said they were facing “sideways rain, a big melt, and winds too high to run lifts”.

Among the tributes on her account, she was described as “inspiring”, “a shining light” and a “sweet sister”.

Her death was confirmed by the US State Department, without giving her name or more details “out of respect to the family during this difficult time”.

Born in Stowe, Vermont, in 1970, she became a telemark skier as a child.

Telemark skiing is a combination of Alpine and Nordic skiing where the athlete bends their knees every time they have to turn. The heel is attached to the front of the binding by a hinged cable.

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She competed in telemark racing and extreme-skiing competitions in the US, Canada, South America, New Zealand, Russia, Asia, Europe, India, and the Middle East.

She skied the highest peak in Siberia, Kyrgyzstan, China, and the Mongolian Five Holy Peaks and is one of only three US women to ski an 8,000m (26,2000 foot) peak in the Himalayas.

Her most recent movie appearance came in 2009’s Edge Of Never, and six years later she was a contestant on the third season of Ultimate Survival Alaska, where her team finished second.


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