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March 27, 2009

Shane McConkey’s Death Shocked Us

shane-mcconkey-death1

News of Shane McConkey’s death really shocked us this morning. The legendary freeskier, base jumper and innovator Shane McConkey was killed yesterday in a base jumping accident in the Italian Dolomites. According to several news feeds, Shane McConkey experienced problems in the air after launching off a cliff with the expectation of deploying his parachute canopy and then gliding down to the ground—as he had done successfully some 700-plus times before.

“He did a double backflip off the jump and he has these releasable bindings so they come off in the air and then he flies off in his wing suit,” filmmaker Scott Gaffney, a longtime close friend of McConkey’s, told ESPN Action Sports.

But one ski did not come off. And when that happens the drag on the skis causes you to flip over, so the skis go over your head. So he was struggling with the one ski. Then he also got into a bad spin. So he may have never even pulled his pilot chute”, said JT Holmes, who Shane was with in Italy and who reviewed the footage of the accident.

Shane McConkey’s death reported world wide

The fact is that Shane has died, but it’s not easy to swallow. He was so good and gifted that we really didn’t believe this could happen, even though the risks were usually high. Shane McConkey, who appeared in several ski films such as Steep, was one of the brightest stars in the industry. He was a role model to many of us. I really admired Shane’s positive mindset, smile, kindness and courage to live his life exactly the way he wanted. He lived large, every minute. Shane McConkey was truly an inspirational person whose lifestyle so many people followed, but now he is gone. Shane will be missed, just like Doug Coombs, Trevor Petersen and many other great skiers who died young.

Shane McConkey passed away in Italian Dolomites

Shane McConkey was known as the father of reverse camber powder skis, starting with the Volant Spatula and the more recent K2 Pontoon. He was a pioneer and motivator to thousands of skiers across the globe. Shane also won numerous awards and competitions. He started as a competitive freestyle skier, but moved on to be featured in a long line of extreme skiing movies.

Shane McConkey, 39, of Olympic Valley, Calif., is survived by his wife, Sherry, and their 3½-year-old daughter, Ayla. Our thoughts go out to McConkey’s family and friends.

Here are few videos of Shane.

Photos: Graeme Murray/Red Bull Photofiles

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About the Author

Marko Pyhajarvi
I am an old-school alpine skier, snowboarder and telemarker, and I love writing. Therefore I founded Homeboy. I (too) enjoy powder, mountaineering and backcountry skiing as well as photographing. Nowadays, as an old fart, I mostly ski with my kids and focus on financing their hobbies.




 
 

 
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37 Comments


  1. Colin

    A fair amount of hyperbole here — are we really “shocked” that McConkey was killed? It is “difficult to understand”?? McConkey skied off a monster cliff, did a double back-flip, then tried to release his skis and fly away on a disco-suit with some fabric sewn between the arms and legs. His equipment didn’t perform and he bit the dust. This is hard to understand? It might be hard to understand if he died paying Flight Of the Bumblebee on his tuba — but not doing this.


  2. Colin,

    I guess you are righ (in a way).

    Sometimes it is just easy to fall into thinking that these guys (the ski movie guys, pros, competitors etc.) don’t make any mistakes and they know 100% sure what they are doing. Even knowing they have enormous risks in their stunts.

    That’s the reason for the “shock”…it can be hard to believe in emotional level…although, on the other hand, on the rational level it is just like you said.


  3. Colin, thanks for your direct feedback! I wrote the story. I guess the problem here is that our first language is Finnish, and saying some things in Finnish means a bit different in English. Therefore direct translations of somehow emotional thoughts don’t always make sense.

    What I meant in the article, is that we didn’t really expect Shane to die. Anyhow, it is a sad tragedy.


  4. s and m

    Our hearts and prayers are with the McConkey family and his beautiful wife and daughter! He will always be remembered as one of the best freerider skiers around. Squaw Valley locals have lost a great friend.


  5. Simon

    It’s ‘hard to understand’ that our heroes are just regular humans. They seem like so much more with the amazing things they do, so when we see them make mistakes and suffer the way that regular people o it seems hard to realise that they are just regular people.

    To me that makes them more amazing because they don’t have some special power, they just showed us the limits of what people are really capable of.

    RIP Shane, condolences to his family, and best wishes to all who take inspiration and follow as the next generation of skiing legends.


  6. B.C. Boy

    Long Live SaucerBoy!!!!! : )


  7. Reggie

    McConkey was indeed a pioneer….but to compare his death to Coombs, come on…..Coombs played it safe and died saving a friend. Shane died jumping off cliffs elying on a chute…..what do you expect after so many jumps>


  8. yoyo

    Colin,

    You’re an idiot. Are we shocked yes. After calculating, testing and performing these events numerous times, it does dimish the risk. If you drive your car everyday and then on the 100th day the brakes don’t work, does the obit state, “his equipment didn’t perform and he bit the dust. This is hard to understand?” Everything has an inherent risk – who are we to know when something we cannot control fail. Unless you are a statiscal mathematician, we cannot have a converation about the similar risks we have in everyday life.

    Clearly you are not one to push the limits, the envelop, or venure out of your comfort zone. Stay in your house, on your couch, have food delivered to you by a fat old lady and continue to waste your life being one of millions instead of the one of a millions.

    Our life is more exciting.


  9. yoyo is a dummy

    Hey yoyo, you’re the dummy here, dummy. I feel the same way as Colin and I partake in all of these activities. Sure there’s risk in everything we do but we maximize our safety in every aspect of our lives. You can die in everything you do but you WILL die when you do this and any minor thing goes wrong. You can make a thousand mistakes behind the wheel but everything has to go wrong for you to die, it has to be an extremely deadly situation. These sports in themselves are extremely deadly situations. In a nutshell, you’re a dummy and I’m not shocked he died either. Go play your tuba.


  10. photonexit

    There’s always another one, then another one. Some of them, like Coombs, McConkey and Petersen, manage to breed another generation to “avenge” their deaths. It keeps me from flipping channels.


  11. Hey Colin,
    Go back to your couch and be the potatoe you are and never experience the true meaning of life (and death). When you live for a thrill it is the way to die.


  12. Dave C.

    Seems Red Bull is doing it’s best to scarifice lives for money.

    Participate in extreme sports long enough and keep pushing the envelope, you will get killed. Was the adrenaline rush and the adulation of a few other addicts worth leaving a child and widow?

    Most of the world has no idea who the hell he was and his name will disappear into obscurity. A man’s FIRST responsibilty is to his wife and family. Think about it next time before you plunge off into a no-safe zone couloir or participate in sports with a horrible fatality rate. Quit proving Darwin correct.


  13. Kate

    I just don’t agree with anyone who says that Shane’s first priority was his wife and family. Which sounds harsh (especially ironic coming from me, a woman). But just like Dougie Coombs’ wife, Shane’s wife loved him for the man that he had always been…including that which made him feel most alive. She fully understood the risks he took. She knew who she was marrying, and his lifestyle is indeed what supported their family. So, no, he shouldn’t have given up his passion for anything. And I hold these exact standards in my own life as well.

    Love those for who they are. To love a man by changing him, or asking him to change, is the greatest travesty of all.


  14. shane

    we had the same name :D

    he sounds like a really cool guy shame about the tradgedy


  15. Went to see In Deep yesterday, awesome movie. Shane’s mom told some funny stories about him. Great skier, great person. Will miss him.


  16. Jared

    What a tragedy, I like lots of people looked up to Shane, I think
    most people posting shit on here don’t have a clue what it’s like to live the way he did. I just found out and I almost cried and I never even meet Shane, I wish I had.


  17. monkey

    chody indeed


  18. He was the coolest guy of all time. Will miss him. More than a simple freeskier… Good by Shane!


  19. Shane was very tallented and nice to every one so respect his death be aware it could happen to you so every body act mature do things responsibly dont break the law but have fun living your life god bless have fun and pray.


  20. joe

    wow. just finished watching steep for the 5th time. watching the sparkle in shanes eyes after he speaks about his jump off that kicker is inspirational. His connection to these sports and this world are so special and even though it sucks to say its def a more special connection then most people have to this world. Shane lived life like i wish i could and im glad he repped the skiiing world!


  21. Your Comments dont blame redbull


  22. Wow, shane was an incredible skier and person. His death is a loss to the sport and losing his zest for life is a loss to human kind. To argue semantics [colin] in the wording of this article is disrespectful to Shane and the many people who respect what he did. He was a true trail blazer and he will not be forgotten. We celebrate the life he led and many people are better having known him


  23. it sucks to say its def a more special connection then most people have to this world. Shane lived life like i wish i could and im glad he repped the skiiing world! touch screen laptop


  24. To argue semantics [colin] in the wording of this article is disrespectful to Shane and the many people who respect what he did. He was a true trail blazer and he will not be forgotten. We celebrate the life he led and many people are better having known him touch screen laptop


  25. His death is a loss to the sport and losing his zest for life is a loss to human kind. To argue semantics [colin] in the wording of this article is disrespectful to Shane and the many people who respect what he did. He was a true trail blazer and he will not be forgotten.


  26. What’s up, of course this paragraph is really nice and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging. thanks.



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