(SEATTLE TIMES) — STEVENS PASS — Her buddy shouted “Avalanche!” but when things started sliding, it felt to professional skier Elyse Saugstad like just a tiny rush of loose snow beneath her skis.

In an instant the weight and pressure grew so immense that she rocketed down the slope, banging into trees and rolling upside down.

“The next thing I knew I was taking more than a 2,000-foot ride down an avalanche, tumbling and turning and tossing the entire way,” Saugstad said Sunday.

She came to rest cemented in snow with her face exposed. The slide would kill three of her friends.

Three expert skiers, including the director of marketing services for the Stevens Pass ski resort and a widely known judge of competitive freeskiing events, died after being swept downslope and buried by the state’s deadliest avalanche in years Sunday around noon.

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