Winner of the Freeride Worldtour 2008 - Xavier De Le Rue - survives avalanche accident with ABS


"Shortly after winning the 2008 Freeride World Championship, Xavier De Le Rue survived a serious avalanche accident on March 28, 2008, almost unharmed. During filming, an avalanche suddenly broke loose, the extent of which was about 2000 meters long. Xavier was equipped with the ABS Freeride Backpack and thus found himself at the end of the avalanche on the surface of about 6 meters of snow.

Xavier: "The ABS® backpack just saved my life, I should even say it's bordering on a miracle that I'm still here today."

Xavier recounts the avalanche accident as follows: Speed isn't everything - even though you've often heard me say that speed is your best friend when freeriding. Making the right decision at the right time is not always easy. In the first area of the avalanche I still seemed to be doing well. The snow slab breaks and I ski shot downhill with the monster at my back. At first it seems like I can laugh about it at the end of the ride, until these strange lines form in the snow all around me. I'm going extremely fast, but not fast enough. This mountain wants me down - and down I go. It's time to pull on my ABS®. The avalanche is really big and breaks again, this time on an even bigger scale. I don't feel the fall for very long. I have a few memories as my friends find me about two kilometers down, then I can only remember the hospital again.

When they found me on the surface on about 6 meters of snow, they did not believe that I could have survived. Miracles happen, and soon I realized that it is a miracle that I am still alive after this accident. After two days of photo shooting in the area, we could not see any bad signs on that descent and the avalanche or at least the extent of the avalanche was absolutely unexpected.A mountain guide who was also in the area got his client into an avalanche on a similar descent, slope, exposiiton and altitude etc (he was also rescued by the ABS®). He had skied the same run several times that day, apparently without anything coming loose. The temperature had risen dramatically by this time and this north descent was suddenly full of surprises....

Anyway - I know that I can consider myself more than lucky and part of this luck was that I had an ABS® backpack with me. The photos show this very impressively....

For me it means that I will observe the terrain even more closely in the future, but most of all it is a sign for me to listen to my surroundings even better in the future. Filming with a helicopter is great, but it takes a lot of time to communicate and feel what is happening around you - and that is much bigger than yourself.

I was able to leave the hospital without much problem. "A little bit sore but no big deal."

Foto: Christoffer Sjöström /