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World Cup skier and girlfriend dead after "tragic mountain accident" in Italy, sports officials say

Two career skiers died after falling thousands of feet down a mountain in northern Italy, according to officials and Italian media. 

Jean Daniel Pession, a 27-year-old World Cup competitor and member of the Italian national speed skiing team, suffered a fatal fall from a spot near the summit of Monte Zerbion in the Alps. Pession was traversing a familiar route with his girlfriend, 26-year-old skiing instructor Elisa Arlian, who also died, the Italian national broadcasting network Rai News 24 reported. 

It took recovery crews several hours to find the couple. When they did, Pession and Arlian were still linked together by a safety rope mountaineers often use while climbing, the network said.

The circumstances that led to the couple's deadly fall were unclear, Rai News reported. Both Pession and Arlian fell almost 2,300 feet from Monte Zerbion, a distance only a few hundred feet shy of half a mile. 

"A terrible tragedy strikes the world of winter sports and speed skiing in particular," the Italian Winter Sports Federation said in a statement, calling it a "tragic mountain accident."  

Officials with the federation and the local government in Aosta Valley, where the mountain is located and where Pession is from, have publicly mourned their deaths and shared condolences for the couple's families.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation noted Pession's performance record at the World Cup, including ranking 15th at the competition final in 2021 and ranking 22nd in Vars in 2022. 

"President Flavio Roda and the entire Federation express their condolences to Pession family for this tragic misfortune," its statement continued.

The Regional Council of the Aosta Valley acknowledged Pession and Arlian's deaths in a separate statement, describing it as a moment of profound sadness.

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