Stock photo, Chamonix: Getty
A British design student is on life support after falling headfirst into a snowdrift just metres off a red run in Chamonix - on the first day of the ski season.
Emily Watts, 26, known as Mimi, had been suffering cardiac arrest for "dozens of minutes" before rescue services arrived around 45 minutes after she fell.
Emergency services confirmed the accident, which happened at 4pm on Saturday, and Miss Watts' parents, Nicky and Dominic, and her brother, Rory, have flown to France to be by her bedside.
Her aunt, Shona Pollock, said her family is devastated after being told it is unlikely Mimi will recover.
She told the Daily Mail: "They believe she may have fallen head first into fresh powder and probably knocked herself out.
"When they found her she had been smothered in snow, almost like her body had been drowning in snow - and her brain has been starved of oxygen.
"Short of a miracle I just don't think she is going to get better. She had 45 minutes on the mountain with her heart stopped.
"It is truly devastating. She is so bright and sadly all of her plans for the future are to be no more.
"She is still on a life support machine but that is not for long - it sadly looks as though she won't recover.
"She was looked after superbly there by police, mountain rescue and the hospital, they were terrific."
Miss Pollack told the Daily Telegraph: "It is awful. Mimi was so full of life. She loved the mountains and snowboarding. She was completely and utterly her own person and this is just so tragic."
A source close to the emergency services said."She went just a couple of metres off-piste in an area dotted with small bushes and fell down a 1.5m 'hole' created by snow ploughs.
"She fell head first into thick snow and was knocked unconscious. She had already been in cardiac arrest for dozens of minutes by the time rescue services reached the scene."
Miss Watts, who is an experienced snowboarder, had moved to Chamonix two weeks ago to work the ski season.
She had been in h Grands Montets, the largest pisted skiing area in the Chamonix Valley, when the accident happened.
Her aunt described her as "heavenly" and "the nicest girl you could ever meet".
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