A YOUNG British skier has been found dead following the first night of the Oxford and Cambridge universities trip to the French Alps, police confirmed today.
22-year-old Matt Smith had been taking part in a drinks party at a so-called Varsity event notorious for heavy alcohol consumption.
Officers found the man unconscious in a holiday flat at the up-market Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe, this morning The Sun reports.
Friends were unable to revive him, and he looked unwell, prompting them to call the emergency services.
They too were unable to save Matt, who died after suffering a cardiorespiratory arrest.
It is believed history undergraduate Matt, who studied at St John’s College, arrived by coach with a group of friends on Saturday.
“An autopsy is being held this coming week” said a local police source, who said the tragedy was still being investigated at the scene.
The annual Varsity Trip to the Alps is now one of the biggest events in both universities social calendar.
Publicity for this year’s event — described as the biggest ski party in the world — reads: ‘Those lucky enough to attend can ski all day on the slopes of one of the best ski areas in the world, and party all night.’
The first Varsity ski trip was held in Switzerland in 1922, and it now attracts more than 3000 young people a year.
Last year a security official said students were “risking their lives” by taking part in drinking games. In late 2010 there was an outcry when pictures and videos of scantily clad participants taking part in the so-called ‘Valley Rally’ were published on Facebook. Many were involved in debauched drinking games.
The resort has been forced to employ people to patrol the streets to deal with drunken guests.
Scott Dunn, a travel agency which provided prizes for the events at the time, issued a statement attacking the ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and saying they were pulling out of all ‘future involvement’.
Academics also criticised the students, saying they were bringing the world famous universities into disrepute.
Most students attending this year’s Varsity Trip left by coach for Val-Thorens on Friday and arrived on Saturday for a week on the slopes.
A spokesman for St John’s College Oxford expressed their “deep sadness at the tragic death”.
“While we await the findings of the official investigation we are offering support to students who may have been affected.”