Before she went away with her husband for a weekend of skiing in Vermont, Anna Pogosyants had colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology laughing at the image of her tackling the downhill slopes for the first time in her life.
Yesterday, those colleagues were in tears after hearing that she and her husband, Igor Slobodkin, were killed. The couple were two of six people to die in weather-related accidents in the past two days.
The couple, who came from Russia to earn graduate degrees in Boston, were in their 1984 Honda Accord when Slobodkin hit a slick spot on snowy Route 7 near the Ruland-Pittsford town line shortly after midnight yesterday, and veered across the center line into the southbound traffic lane, according to Vermont State Police.
The car smashed into a one-ton van owned by a fuel company. Both Pogosyants, 26, and Slobodkin, 28, who were wearing seat belts, were pronounced dead at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
"Anya had lots of friends and was supervising a new graduate student and an undergraduate student," said her graduate adviser, professor Nancy Lynch. "She had never been skiing before, and she was making all kinds of self-deprecating jokes about how badly she would do."
If her career in computer science and electrical engineering, which she was studying at MIT, was any indication, she would have been slaloming again in no time. Friends of the Cambridge couple said Polosyants graduated from a Moscow university with a degree in computer science without ever having touched a computer, a rare commodity in the former Soviet Union, when she was a student there.
At Tufts University, where Slobodkin was in the fifth year of a doctoral program at the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, the mood was somber as well.
Slobodkin taught himself English by reading Tennyson, was known for a booming laugh and his seemingly perpetual training for mountain climbing by doing chin-ups on door lintels, said a friend and colleage, Mark Hanson.
Hanson said Igor and Anna met through their parents in Moscow, because both families shared an interest in collecting record albums. They were married by the time they came to Boston in 1990 to begin their studies.
(Remaining quarter of article is re four other accidents.)