The ski world is poorer by two.

Fraser Noble of Westminster, Mass., and Jimmy Zell of Jackson Hole, Wyo., died this week.

Noble was 94, almost twice Zell's age.

Both coped with the bad luck that life can deal, spending the last years of their lives wheelchair bound as a result of sporting accidents.

Some may see an end to the similarities there.

Zell was famous for leaping into steep couloirs in the Tetons; Noble was well-known in New England for his ski columns, which earned him $10 apiece and appeared in the Athol Daily News.

"I ski, and I write about it," he would say, with a certain cat-who-swallowed-the-canary air. His day job was with the U.S. Postal Service.

Noble's trademark outfit was a wool cap and kerchief.

He taught skiing for many years, and reflected classic style as he made his way down the slopes.

I had the pleasure of knowing him, and skiing with him, although he would often shake his head and hold his tongue as he watched me lurch down the slope.

He suffered a heart attack in the mid-1980s while chasing Harry Baxter down the hill at Jackson Hole, and I got to carry his ski boots home on the plane while he recuperated. I always imagined he was soon chasing nurses down the halls.

Some months later, the day before triple or quadruple bypass surgery, I ran into him climbing Wachusett Mountain, moving slowly and looking gray.

I asked him what the heck he thought he was doing, although the language was somewhat stronger.

"I just want to see how different I feel after the surgery," he said.

He felt great, skied the next several seasons, before a fall [R488R, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area] left him wheelchair bound. Noble died Thursday.

Zell , 48, was a local legend in [R191R, Jackson Hole], where he was a member of the Jackson Hole Air Force, skiers notorious for seeking untracked powder beyond the ropes.

He was paralyzed in 1996 in a paragliding accident, and was confined to a wheelchair since. He died Tuesday after a two-year struggle with ALS.