Student who died on Varsity ski trip 'resting at peace in the mountains'

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A touching family tribute has been paid to the "adventurous and imaginative" Oxford University student who died during a Varsity skiing trip.

Undergraduate Matt Smith, 21, was found dead during a visit to the Val Thorens resort in the French Alps on Sunday morning.

His father, Howard, 49, spoke on Thursday of his son's love for snowboarding and the "happiness" he found in the mountains, where his family now see him "resting at peace".

We were all shocked to hear the news of Matt's ...

In a statement, written on behalf of his wife and other son, he added: "He especially looked forward to the annual Varsity trip. Even though he didn't have a chance to start enjoying it this year, he would have wanted the party to carry on without him.

"He would have applauded the way his fellow snow-lovers took his snowboard for one last ride this week."

Smith was reading history at St John's College and had been the secretary of the ski and snowboard club last year.

Thousands of students from Oxford and Cambridge Universities join the popular annual Varsity ski trip, which dates back to 1921.

Val Thorens
(Matt Squirrell/Flickr)

French authorities, the club committee and Smith's fellow students were also thanked for their support following the student's death.

The statement said: "Matt was adventurous and imaginative in life, and kind, generous and loyal to his friends. Matt made friends everywhere, and seemed to capture the hearts of whomever he met. He intensely wished everyone to strive to achieve all they could; he felt anything was possible, and did not believe in regrets.

"Since his death, in Val Thorens, we have been astonished at the outpouring of love for Matt, and the many stories from friends who've told us how he influenced their lives for the better. It is amazing to hear about the sheer amount of joy he'd spread, even though we sometimes do not know whether to laugh or cry.

"Matt loved the mountains. He wrote from Canada about the peace and happiness he felt there, and he spent hours at a time contemplating the beauty of the French Alps with his fellow snowboarders."

St John's College
(Steve Parsons/PA)

It ended: "Matt achieved so much in 21 years, and he revelled in the achievements of those around him. He would have taken great pleasure in seeing the amazing things that his peers will achieve in the years ahead.

"Sadly, we will not see what Matt could have achieved in the future, but we see him resting at peace in the mountains, above the clouds."