By David Gold in Sochi

pavel karelin_10-10-11October 10 - Russian ski jumping sensation and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic gold medal hope Pavel Karelin has been killed in a car crash near Moscow.

The incident occurred on a highway outside of Moscow, near Nizhny Novgorod, and the death was confirmed by his coach Alexander Svyatov.

"The tragedy took place early this morning," he said.

"Airbags in his car failed.

"Pavel died and his two friends are in a serious condition."

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In a statement, the Russian Ski Jumping Federation said: "Pavel Karelin's tragic death is a huge and irreplaceable loss for Russian sport."

The federation's deputy head Vladimir Slavsky said that the 21-year-old had either fallen asleep or lost control of the car he was travelling in.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) also added their condolences, saying that Karelin "was the leader of our team, one of our big hopes for the 2014 Sochi Olympics".

Karelin claimed three World Cup medals during his brief career, and Alexander Uvarov, head of the Russian Ski Federation, said that Russia would go into the 2014 Winter Olympics determined to win a gold medal in his memory.

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