Two potential contenders for the U.S. ski team were killed in an avalanche in the Austrian alps on Monday. Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, reportedly died after skiing off course while training on a glacier.

Austrian officials told the Associated Press that there'd been an avalanche warning in the region, which had seen heavy snowfall and warm weather in recent days.

From the AP:

"Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport — both on the race course and skiing the mountain," U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw said. "Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them."

Berlack grew up racing in New Hampshire and had been a student-athlete at Vermont's Burke Mountain Academy. He was named to the so-called development team for potential World Cup racers following two top-20 finishes at the 2013 U.S. national championships and a spring tryout camp.

"They all have the potential (to be on the World Cup)," Alpine director Patrick Riml told the AP. "These two boys were among the other eight boys who are our future. We believed in these guys, that's why we selected them."

"[I]t's a shock for everybody. Two great boys, great athletes, good skiers," he added."They were fun to have around. We are all in shock, still. It's very tragic."

[Image via AP]