Young motocross star Rene Hofer has been confirmed as one of the victims in a deadly avalanche in central Austria.
Authorities said three skiers were killed and two injured after they were hit by a roughly 200m wide slab of snow on Saturday.
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They were part of a group of 11 skiers, eight of whom were hit as they ascended a slope during a ski tour in the Tweng area in Salzburg province.
The KTM motocross team has since confirmed that 19-year-old Hofer, a junior world and European champion, is among the dead.
KTM described him as a “multi-time junior champion and GP winner with a bright future in Grand Prix ahead of him”.
"The entire KTM family is deeply saddened by the terrible news that MX2 factory racer Rene Hofer, along with two of his friends, has passed away following a skiing incident in Austria," the team wrote on social media.
"KTM would like to send love and heartfelt condolences to Rene’s family, friends, his team, along with the entire motocross community during this incredibly difficult time.
"Rene, a multi-time junior champion and GP winner with a bright future in Grand Prix ahead of him, will be remembered not only for his talent on the track, but also for his approachable, fun-loving and friendly personality, along with his ever-present smile."
Hofer won his maiden Grand Prix victory in the MX2 class in October, becoming the first Austrian in 34 years to win a main-category event.
He won world and European championships while competing in the sport at a junior level.
Absolutely tragic news. 19-year-old factory Red Bull KTM MX2 race winner Rene Hofer and two friends have been killed by an avalanche in their native Austria.
Deepest condolences to their friends and family at this awful time.
— Simon Patterson (@denkmit) December 5, 2021
Tributes pour in after devastating death of Rene Hofer
Infront Moto Racing said: "It is with a heavy heart that Infront Moto Racing must share the tragic news of the passing of one of its bright stars, Rene Hofer.
“Hofer was no doubt one of the happiest guys in the paddock, always seen with the biggest smile on his face.
“The Austrian had a bright future ahead of him and he showed a glimpse of what was to come.
“He claimed the 85cc Junior World Championship and European titles in 2016 and of course his incredible performance this season.
"This included his first race win and Grand Prix victory in Pietramurata along with the overall victory in the MX2 class at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations where he represented Team Austria.
“Infront Moto Racing and the entire MXGP family expresses their deepest condolences and sends all their strength to Rene’s family, friends and the whole Team at KTM at this incredibly difficult time.”
Regional police said three of the skiers were buried by the avalanche, while another two were partly buried and able to free themselves.
Rescuers were able to locate two of the skiers with the help of their search devices, however one was already dead and the other later died at a hospital in Klagenfurt.
The third buried skier wasn't carrying a search device. His body was located about four hours after the avalanche and recovered.
Avalanche warning levels were reportedly in place in the area, as well as warnings about the depth of snow drifts.
Racer X has learned tragic news that up and coming GP star Rene Hofer has died in an avalanche at a ski resort. Hofer won his first Grand Prix this season and also won the MX2 class overall at the Motocross of Nations. He was 19 years old 🙏 https://t.co/l9dtnYeYMg
— Racer X (@racerxonline) December 4, 2021
MXGP mourns the loss of Austrian talent Rene Hofer 🕯
MXGP expresses their deepest condolences and sends all their strength to Rene’s family, friends and the whole Team at KTM at this incredibly difficult time.
Read the full statement HERE: https://t.co/neGskv9wax#MXGP pic.twitter.com/RlMp2SeUsN
— MXGP (@mxgp) December 5, 2021
Oh that's terrible terrible news. My heartfelt condolences to the families and friends.
Hope they get all the strength they would require to Dela with such a loss. 💔💔💔
— Sunny Soral (@sunnysoral) December 5, 2021
Devastated to hear about the passing of Rene Hofer, a MXGP winner, passing away after a skiing accident.
RIP to Rene and the 7 others who also passed away in the incident. 🕊
Condolences to all friends and families 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/5PIONAOIzm
— Jessica 🥰 (@motorstar93) December 5, 2021
Lost for words. Rest In Peace Rene Hofer ! My thoughts are with family, friends, 🇦🇹, moto community.
I didn’t know Rene personally but he’s in that very few % who previously privately messaged me on here, thanking me for an edit I created & just being a really nice person pic.twitter.com/YjiMsU85ts
— PatStott. (@patstottdesigns) December 5, 2021
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