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Friends remember talented, passionate telemark skier who died in avalanche

Posted at 6:05 PM, Feb 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-18 20:05:46-05

SALT LAKE CITY — With sparkles on her cheekbones and a light-hearted essence that carried her wherever she went, Kasha Rigby was known to many as "The Fairy."

"She created a nature that you wanted to walk in when you were with her. She kind of hummed to a music everyone wanted to hear," said Rigby's friend, Dax Williamson. "She kind of had this glint, this gleam in her eyes."

"The Fairy" loved traveling so much that she earned another nickname for herself — "Flight Risk" — but Rigby's close friends, Dax Williamson and Rebecca Shatles, say Rigby used Utah as her home base. Williamson recalls the day he met Rigby. He was backcountry skiing with friends when she greeted them with a hot cup of tea.

"We were skiing a pretty technical line and she just hoisted up and said, 'Hey, can I go first?' and jumped in and just totally blew me away," Williamson recalled.

"She loves the Cottonwood Canyons, she had a really strong connection to Boulder, she worked at Hell's Backbone for a long time, and The Grand Staircase was a really special place for her," said Rebecca Shatles.

On Tuesday, Rigby and her fiancé were skiing in Kosovo when she was caught in an avalanche. It swept her into trees, and she was killed on impact.

"I saw a picture of the slide and it was like... This took our Kashy? But maybe it was just her time," Shatles said.

At only 54, Rigby already achieved so much. She was a world-renowned skier, widely known for being the pioneer of extreme telemark skiing.

"If you look up her bio, it's just like, oh my gosh — she's a global athlete, she's been all over the world, she's skied everywhere, and she's worked with some of the most best and awesome people in the community and industry," Williamson said.

"I see these cute little skier girls with their little tails coming out of their helmets, and you know, Kasha created that, she just created this ability to be an incredible athlete, a beautiful woman," Shatles said.

In the past few years, Rigby had been skiing less to focus on her passion for humanitarian work, most recently working heavily in Bangladesh.

"What brought her there is actually this project to bring surfing to some of the kids in Cox's Bazar," Shatles said.

Now, the people Rigby has impacted from Salt Lake City to all around the world are doing what they can to keep her grand legacy alive.

"I think the biggest thing we can all do is keep doing what we love," Williamson said.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help get Rigby back to the States.