THE OLYMPICS / WINTER GAMES AT ALBERTVILLE : Swiss Speed Skier Dies Before Event : Accident: Nicolas Bochatay is killed when he hits a snow machine while skiing on a public slope with a teammate.
Nicolas Bochatay, 27, a Swiss speed skier, was killed Saturday in a non-competition accident at Les Arcs.
Bochatay apparently was skiing downhill, either in an informal warm-up session or while on his way to the competition area, when he hit a snow-grooming machine heading uphill, the Olympic organizing committee said.
Hugo Steinegger, a spokesman for the organizers, said that Bochatay and teammate Pierre-Yves Jorand had been skiing on a public slope adjacent to the speed ski run.
Jorand said they crested a small hill, flew into the air and that Bochatay crashed into a snowcat that they had not seen. Steinegger said Bochatay was killed instantly, but Jorand missed the vehicle and was unharmed.
Jean-Albert Corrand, the local Olympic organizing committee, said the snowcat was moving, sounding a siren and flashing emergency lights, when the collision occurred.
Bochatay, who had qualified 13th for Saturday’s finals, was among the men and women competing in the event that features runs down a 70-degree slope at speeds of more than 130 m.p.h. In the Swiss team book, he is listed as a carpenter from Les Marecottes. He reportedly was married and had two children. He was the Swiss champion in speed skiing in 1991 and a former Alpine ski racer.
Patrick Schamasch, chief medical officer for the Winter Games, said the accident occurred at 9:30 a.m., about three hours before the competition began.
Bochatay’s aunt, Fernande Bochatay, won the bronze medal for Switzerland in the giant slalom at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.
A collision between a skier and a snowcat also resulted in a fatality at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Dr. Joerg Oberhammer, the Austrian team’s chief physician, was killed when he collided with a television technician at the convergence of two ski runs on Mt. Allan, site of the Alpine events, and was thrown into the path of the snow-grooming machine.