MOSCOW (Reuters) - Pavel Karelin, Russia's leading ski jumper, died in a car crash on Sunday. He was 21.
"Pavel Karelin's tragic death is a huge and irreplaceable loss for Russian sport," the country's ski jumping federation said in a statement.
"He was the leader of our team; one of our big hopes (for the 2014 Sochi Olympics)," added Russian Olympic Committee department head Alexander Grushin.
Police said Karelin died in the early hours when his Mercedes collided with another vehicle on a motorway near Nizhny Novgorod, some 570 kms east of Moscow.
Karelin had competed regularly on the World Cup circuit. His best result was second place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in January.
He took part in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, finishing 10th in the team competition and 33rd in the individual event.
(Writing by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Clare Fallon)