Two men swept away by a killer avalanche in British Columbia were business partners in Strathmore, just east of Calgary.

Thirty-one people were sent to hospital, one in critical condition in the avalanche on Boulder Mountain, in the Monashee Mountains, near Revelstoke, Saturday, during the annual Big Iron Shoot-Out.

RCMP confirmed late last night that the two men killed in the avalanche were Curtis Reynolds of Strathmore and Shay Snortland of Lacombe. The two deceased men were reportedly in business together in an oilfield hauling company based in Strathmore.

Two men who witnessed the avalanche said it hit so many people in part because a crowd stopped to watch snowmobilers racing uphill.

Steve Langevin, 38, of Calgary, said he thought the onlookers were safe from the people he called “those crazy guys” because they were what seemed like kilometres away, but the wave of snow was so massive it easily reached them.

Police wouldn’t directly say who or what caused the avalanche.

RCMP said 19 of the 31 injured were released from hospital. Four were transferred to hospitals in Calgary, Kelowna, Kamloops and Vernon, B.C., for treatment of more serious injuries.

So far this year, there have been far fewer avalanche deaths compared to last winter when there were two dozen. One slide claimed the lives of eight snowmobilers near Fernie, B.C., in December 2008. There were 13 avalanche deaths the previous winter.

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