Longo not among fatalities in Argentinean helicopter accident
Jeannie Longo, the former Olympic and world road champion, was not among the fatalities in a helicopter collision that occurred Monday in Argentina, killing eight members of the French TV show “Dropped,” of which Longo was a cast member.
In all, 10 people died in the incident, a mid-air collision between two helicopters in the rugged mountains of La Rioja province, about 730 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.
The show was to feature French sports stars, including several Olympic athletes, being placed in inhospitable for environments for a survival-themed reality show.
A statement from La Rioja’s government said that among the 10 dead were Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine, and sailor Florence Arthaud, the Associated Press reported.
Also involved in the crash were two Argentine pilots, and five French members of the production team.
“Apparently, the two helicopters collided as they were filming. There are no survivors,” provincial spokesman Horacio Alarcon told Agence France Presse.
Other stars participating in the show are swimmer Alain Bernard, footballer Sylvain Wiltord, snowboarder Anne-Flore Marxer, and figure skater Philippe Candeloro, as well as Longo. None of them were among the victims.
Shooting for the second season of “Dropped” began in late February in Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina in Patagonia and then moved to La Rioja, The Guardian reported.
“We’ve got people who are way beyond average for their record of achievements, that’s clear. And we can tell that on the ground, on all kinds of terrain, that they’ve got the ability to adapt,” the show’s presenter, Louis Bodin, said of the series in a recent interview with French radio station RTL, according to The Guardian. “Of course, the logistics, the conditions are sometimes a little complicated.”
Longo, 56, is a 13-time world champion across road, time trial, and track disciplines, most recently winning the French national TT title in 2011, at age 52.
Her bid to make the London 2012 squad fell short when she finished fifth at the 2012 national time-trial championship, 1:05 behind current world road champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, who is 34 years younger than Longo.
Longo had participated in every Olympic Games since the IOC added a women’s road race during the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
Her husband and coach, Patrice Ciprelli, admitted in 2012 that he had been buying the banned blood booster EPO since 2007, but insisted it was for his personal use.