Three people have died in a helicopter crash on Russia’s tourist-popular Kamchatka Peninsula. Authorities said the burned-out wreck was found near Mount Uson on Sunday. The multiple biathlon junior world champion Igor Malinowski transported two passengers as a pilot. Malinovsky’s hometown on Kamchatka confirmed the death of the 25-year-old athlete.
“Responsible personnel from Kamchatka discovered a burnt-out Robinson helicopter 13 kilometers south of the Uzon volcano, with which radio communication was lost yesterday. The helicopter with the pilot and two passengers was on a private flight,” said Vladimir Solodov, the region’s governor. The reasons why the helicopter crashed are still unclear.
The biathlete community will remember Malinowski as a great athlete, said Olle Dahlin, President of the International Biathlon Union (IBU), according to Tass agency. “He loved biathlon and flying. The entire biathlon family is mourning,” the Russian Biathlon Federation said in a statement.
The former Russian biathlon star and later association president Vladimir Drakhev was dismayed in a report by the Russian sports channel “Match TV”: “It is a tragedy for our sport and our country. The man was exceptional and talented, after all there aren’t that many five-time world champions, albeit in youth classes. He was stronger than any of his peers. Unfortunately, he has chosen a profession that involves such great risk. We mourn the loss of a wonderful man.”
Malinowski was once one of the country’s biggest biathlon hopes. Due to numerous injuries, however, he did not make the successful leap from junior to senior. In 2021, after the end of the season, he decided to stop biathlon and become a pilot instead.
The helicopter was reported missing on Saturday. According to the media, rescue workers initially suspected that the pilot might have taken a break because of the bad weather.
Helicopter tours are one of the top tourist attractions on the underdeveloped Pacific Peninsula. Kamchatka is a dream destination for many nature lovers because of its volcanoes, geysers and thermal springs. Time and again, fatal accidents, including those involving helicopters, occur there, not least because of sudden changes in the weather.