World Famous skier Shane McConkey dies March 26, 2009, ski BASE jumping in Italy
I logged onto facebook tonight and there was shocked by ski photographer Erik Seo's heart-breaking status post: "RIP Shane McConkey". After a flurry of calls, it was confirmed. Shane McConkey died today in Italy attempting a ski-BASE jump --- a sport he has been a leader in for years. Ski-BASE is when a skier jumps off an enormous cliff, then pulls a parachute. While all facts cannot be confirmed yet, it appears that one of his skis did not release when expected and may have gotten caught in his chute. For those of you unfamiliar with Shane (and if you are really into skiing -- from extreme skiing to park skiing to ski racing -- he has had an impact on you), he was one of the world's most accomplished skiers. 'Extreme skier' the mainstream media would call him, but he refused to be bounded by labels. He was a professional mogul skier in the mid-90s, and he even rode park and halfpipe competitively back in 1999, 2000, and 2001. But then he returned to his favorite focus which was big mountain skiing (usually via helicopter in Alaska, with his cohort JT Holmes, and with Matchstick Productions camera crews documenting his every move). He revolutionized big mountain skiing, ski-BASE, and was the first person I know of to do a switch front flip in the terrain park on twintip skis. Regarding ski-BASE, he truly was one of a kind. I have added a video clip here from one of his movie segments, and you can see just how revolutionary. The Shane McConkey death is definitely a hard blow for the industry to take. Shane was also extremely funny, self-effacing, and a tremendously bright and smiling personality in the industry. Though I didn't know him closely, my encounters with him at various industry events and at competitions where we were fellow competitors will always be cherished memories. So with a very sad heart, I echo Seo: RIP Shane McConkey.