ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4)– Two Roaring Fork Valley men are being remembered after they died Saturday in an avalanche in the East Brush Creek area near Crested Butte. Friends say Owen Green, 27, of Aspen, and Michael Goerne, 37, of Carbondale will be missed.

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The pair was getting ready for the Grand Traverse, a 40-mile backcountry ski race across the Elk Mountains when the avalanche hit.

Inside the hallways at Aspen High School on Tuesday, students and teachers returned from holiday weekend to find sadness and heartache waiting for them.

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“He touched so many lives,” said one student.

Their beloved lacrosse coach, Goerne, would not be coming back to school.

(credit: Tommy Cox)

“The most difficult part is watching the reactions of the students. It’s hard to explain death, and why it happened to a 16-year-old,” said Aspen High School Lacrosse head coach Tommy Cox, who coached alongside Goerne. “He saw the good in people, even at their worst.”

Goerne founded Aspen High School’s Lacrosse Club Team in 2006. Within two years, he helped transform the program into a varsity team.

In 2015, Goerne took the team, dubbed the “Skiers,” to the state title and was named Colorado State Coach of the Year.

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“He was a person in this world who tried harder, worked harder to motivate other people,” said Aspen High School athletic director Martha Richards.

For friends and former players it’s a loss they can’t make sense of, “We are really trying to wrap our arms around our kids and our families.”

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But this school community is rallying around one another and helping each other deal with this loss as best they can.

“We kind of refer to it as a big group hug to make sure they know we’re here for them.”

Matt Kroschel

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