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Originally published March 10, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Page modified March 10, 2012 at 7:52 PM

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Canada mourns a freestyle skier again

Canada's winter athletes are mourning another death in the family.

The Associated Press

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Canada's winter athletes are mourning another death in the family.

Ashleigh McIvor, a freestyle gold medalist at the Vancouver Olympics but now out with a knee injury, said she knew Nik Zoricic since she was a young skier.

"Nik and I both qualified for international juvenile ski race at the age of 13, and Nik's dad was our coach for it," McIvor said during a conference call Saturday. "I think what a lot of people don't know about our sport is the men and women actually travel together."

"When we are on the road together those guys are like my brothers and the girls are like my sisters. Obviously this is absolutely horrible," she added.

Zoricic died of head injuries following a crash in a World Cup event in Grindelwald, Switzerland. His teammates there were to honor the 29-year-old skier with a candlelight tribute.

Bal Gosal, the Minister of State (Sport), said in a statement Canada had lost a "talented and dedicated young athlete."

This was particularly difficult for a community still reeling from the death of Canadian freestyle halfpipe star Sarah Burke. The Winter X Games champion died in January from injuries sustained in a crash during a training run.

Kelsey Serwa, Canada's world champion in skicross who is also out with a knee injury, posted a goodbye to Zoricic on her Facebook page.

"Today we lost an incredible person, an amazing athlete, a teammate and a good friend. There is no reason why these things happen," she said. "Nik, you have been someone I look up to, and cannot believe you are gone. Your years were too few but what you accomplished was more than others accomplish in a lifetime.

"You are an amazing person, a bright spirit, and will forever be missed. My heart and thoughts go out to all of Niko's friends and family. We already miss you dearly Nik, be in peace."

Downhill skier Ryan Semple tweeted: "A close friend and lifetime skier was lost today. My thoughts go out to his family. May you rest in peace Nick Z!!!"

Mike Janyk was skiing at a slalom event in Slovenia when he heard of Zoricic's death.

"Tomorrow is for you Niko," he tweeted.

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