Canada's Nik Zoricic dies after skicross crash

By Graham Dunbar

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 10 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Grindelwald has been a venue on the skicross World Cup circuit since 2005. The Swiss village beneath the Eiger and Jungfrau mountain peaks was hosting a meet for the fifth straight year.

Organizers canceled the World Cup events for men and women on Saturday, along with the World Cup Finals races on Sunday.

"We are all very sad. It is unbelievable for us all," Christoph Egger, president of the race organizing committee, told The AP by telephone. "We are an experienced organizer but, nevertheless, skicross is a sport where four racers fight to win a race.

" In these circumstances there is a risk to fall or risk of injury, and since today we know there is a risk for death."

Egger said it was a "surprise" to see Zoricic's line of flight off the jump, but added: "We put the fences there because you have to protect the racers for the finish area."

According to Gartner, Zoricic was "a model athlete" who began in Alpine racing before switching to skicross.

"He's an extremely dedicated, quiet young man who has gone about his business and found his home in skicross. It was a pleasure to work with him and know him," Gartner said.

Zoricic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, one year before the city hosted the 1984 Winter Games as part of the former Yugoslavia.

He moved to Canada at 5, where his father Bebe became an established Alpine coach at the Craigleith Ski Club in Ontario.

Canadian Alpine racer Kelly VanderBeek posted on Twitter that she grew up skiing with Zoricic and his father.

"I'm a mess, so I can only imagine how his family is. I'm so very sorry. Sending Love," she wrote.

U.S. racer Ted Ligety also posted a message of condolence on Twitter soon after winning a World Cup giant slalom race in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

"Skiing is a great sport that gives but it also takes, sad day to lose Nick Zoricic, you'll be missed bud," Ligety wrote.

Organizers at Grindelwald helped provide grief counselors for the Canadian team, who were holding a candlelit memorial service for Zoricic in the course finish area on Saturday evening.

"The skicross team is a very tight-knit group," Gartner said. "There is going to be a very intimate ceremony."

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