Two people dead in avalanches at mountain ski resort in Whistler, B.C.

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WHISTLER, B.C. - Two more thrill-seekers lured by the pristine mountain snow of Canada's westernmost province have been killed in two separate but equally deadly avalanches on the perilous slopes of British Columbia.
A 26-year-old snowboarder from outside B.C. died Thursday while snowboarding by himself on a side of Whistler Mountain that wasn't open to public access, officials said.
He was buried in a snow slide just hours after searchers on adjacent Blackcomb Mountain found the body of a 37-year-old skier from Whistler, who was buried the evening before.
The latest deaths, both coming in areas marked off-limits because of avalanche risk, come in the shadow of a tragic string of snow slides in the B.C. Interior near Fernie, B.C., that claimed the lives of eight snowmobilers from the nearby town of Sparwood.
"The problem is you've got tempting conditions with fresh snow on the other side of the boundary lines and people are ducking the ropes to go into those areas," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair.
"Those people are putting themselves at great risk, as is obvious by the tragedies that we've experienced in Whistler today."
No names have been released.
The latest slides couldn't have come at a worse time for Whistler, which is preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympics and trying to restore the lustre of its public image after a gondola malfunction in December left skiers trapped for hours, dangling precariously over the slopes.
Whistler Blackcomb simply said the incident was a reminder to skiers and snowboarders to take extra care in light of the increased avalanche risk, and to stay out of off-limits areas.
"The recent weather events throughout British Columbia have created a considerable to high avalanche advisory in many areas throughout British Columbia," the resort said in a news release.
A third avalanche was also reported on Thursday, but LeClair said after an extensive search no one was found in the snow.
The Whistler slides come with the memory of Sparwood's tragedy still fresh in the minds of Canadians and reverberating around the world.
The dead snowmobilers, all experienced outdoorsmen well aware of the risks, were among 11 caught in a series of back-to-back avalanches while riding in a rocky backcountry bowl near Fernie.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Whistler, British Columbia, Fernie Canada Whistler Mountain

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