During a photo shoot on 28th March 2008, the snowboarding professional Xavier de Le Rue, who had won the Freeride World Tour multiple times, triggered a massive avalanche in Orsières, Switzerland, and was dragged along for over two kilometers by the massive wave of snow.
"At first I thought I could outrun the monstrosity that was breathing down my neck. I accelerated until I was tearing down the slope at breakneck pace — and that was when I noticed the cracks all around me. The entire hillside crumbled away in a fraction of a second." It was only then that he instinctively activates his avalanche airbag. Nobody believes that he could have survived.
With the help of a helicopter and thanks to Hendrik Windstedt, his team member, he is found after ten minutes on six meters of compacted avalanche snow. He is unconscious and his mouth and nose are clogged with snow. Xavier survives the accident with only minor injuries.
"It is indeed a miracle that I am even here today. I am convinced that it was pure luck that I managed to survive. And the fact that I was wearing the ABS avalanche airbag was part of that luck."
You can watch Xavier's detailed account from directly after the accident here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_C_P2Nd0xwY
Xavier’s love and skills for both powder and big mountain riding have achieved worldwide recognition. He can not only claim numerous Freeride World Tour Champion titles (3) and Snowboard Cross World Championships (4), but he also received major awards from the snowboarding scene. The most significant are: « Biggest Guts » award at The Reels festivals, « Stand out of the year » at TransWorld SNOWboarding Rider Poll and Snowboarder Magazine Big Mountain of The Year. He has taken part in the freeride movie 'Deeper' and in the documentary ““Lives of the Artists”. For Fall 2013 Xavier will be visible in “Into The Mind” from Sherpas cinemas and in the much anticipated ‘Mission Antarctic’ documentary.