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Skiers Identified in Deadly Colorado Avalanche

<p>Two Wisconsin men were killed Saturday in a slide that swept away seven skiers.</p>

Two Wisconsin men have been identified as skiers swept to their deaths Saturday evening in a large avalanche in Colorado.

Justin Lentz, 32, and Jarrad Law, 34, were killed in the slide in Lake County, Colo., authorities said Monday.

A total of seven skiers on Star Mountain near Independence Pass triggered the avalanche at around 5 p.m. Saturday, the county Office of Emergency Management said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Three other skiers were hospitalized with injuries that included a broken leg, a broken ankle and a possible broken rib and collapsed lung.

Search and rescue crews discovered the bodies of the dead skiers Sunday afternoon, the county Sheriff's Office said.

The avalanche struck along Highway 82 southeast of Aspen and about a mile from the La Plata Gulch Trailhead parking lot.

Authorities said the avalanche occurred near the top of a ridge above the highway but did not reach the road. A photo on the Office of Emergency Management’s website showed slide debris coming down into trees.

Including the skiers killed on Saturday, a total of 14 people have been killed by avalanches in the United States this winter.

Earlier this month, six people died in avalanches in the western United States, according to the avalanche center. Two people died in two slides in Utah; a snowmobiler and a skier were killed in slides in Colorado last week; and two cross-country skiers died in an avalanche in eastern Oregon, Reuters reported.

A series of recent storms has heavily loaded slopes, raising the danger to high levels, weather experts say.