Russian biathlon star dies in helicopter tragedy


Igor Malinovsky was piloting the aircraft when it came down in Kamchatka

Russian sport is mourning the loss of five-time world junior biathlon champion Igor Malinovsky at the age of 25 after the helicopter he was piloting crashed in the far-eastern Kamchatka region of his homeland.

Malinovsky was reportedly taking two passengers on a private excursion in a Robinson helicopter when tragedy struck on Saturday. All three died in the crash.

According to local officials in the Emergencies Ministry, the group had been flying along a route which takes in the caldera of the Uzon volcano near the village of Milkovo when contact was lost.

An initial search was forced to be interrupted overnight before the victims were found at the crash site on Sunday.

“The missing aircraft was found by a passing helicopter on the afternoon of July 17 near the Semyachik pass, 13 kilometers from the Uzon volcano. Unfortunately, no one survived the crash,” said the Emergencies Ministry, as quoted by RIA.

The head of the region, Vladimir Solodov, said that low clouds were observed in the area of ​​the crash site.

“The relevant authorities are conducting an investigation and will establish the reasons for the departure and the circumstances of the crash of a private helicopter,” Solodov added.

Kamchatka native Malinovsky was a former junior biathlon star who won five gold medals at world championship level.

He struggled with the transition to the senior ranks and increasingly focused his attentions on his passion for flying, something he shared with his father.

Malinovksy is said to have completed his studies at the Omsk Flight Technical College of Civil Aviation in April but emphasized that he still harbored plans to compete in biathlon at some level.

The helicopter which he was traveling in at the time of the tragedy reportedly belonged to the ‘Vzlyot’ company which is owned by his father, Vladimir.

Russian biathlon officials paid their respects in a statement, saying: “The whole biathlon family mourns. The Russian Biathlon Union expresses its deepest condolences to Igor’s family and friends.”

International Biathlon Union (IBU) president Olle Dahlin also expressed his sorrow, telling TASS: “The IBU and the entire biathlon family mourns the loss of Igor Malinovsky, five-time junior world champion and World Cup participant. He will always be remembered as a great biathlete, we express our condolences to his family.”

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