Take a look back in time with Shane McConkey as he BASE jumps from a cliff in Lauterbrunnen. This segment and many more are featured in the film “McConkey”, now available on Red Bull TV!
Fly in Peace, Shane – “You have one life. Live it.”
Shane McConkey (December 30, 1969 – March 26, 2009) was a professional skier and BASE jumper. He was born in Vancouver, was eventually based in Squaw Valley, California, but because he never identified with a single place due to his itinerant childhood, was “from” Boulder, Colorado, where he started his professional skiing career and attended the University of Colorado Boulder before dropping out of college.
He won numerous awards and competitions. McConkey started as a competitive ski racer, but moved on to be featured in a long line of extreme skiing movies. McConkey was known for combining BASE jumping with skiing, as seen in such feats as skiing into a BASE jump off the Eiger. McConkey went to Burke Mountain Academy. He was also known for his contributions to ski design, notably being the father of reverse sidecut and reverse camber skis (aka: skis with rocker); first mounting bindings onto water skis for use in Alaska, then with the Volant Spatula and, more recently, the K2 Pontoon ski design. McConkey’s high-speed chairlift and ski area at Park City Mountain Resort are named after his father, Jim McConkey, who was an early proponent of extreme skiing in the U.S. On April 2, 2011 Shane McConkey was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of fame along with other Tahoe skiers, Daron Rahlves and Glen Plake.
On March 26, 2009, Shane McConkey died while executing a ski-BASE jump in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. One of his skis failed to release, sending him into a spin. After he corrected the problem, it was too late to deploy his parachute.
Dose was on the red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival paying homage to Shane McConkey for the premiere of “McConkey,” a feature length documentary about his groundbreaking career as a freeskier and base jumper. We spoke to J.T. Holmes, Shane’s long time friend and fellow skier, wife Sherry McConkey and the directors about the massive imprint that Shane has left behind for generations to come.
Stay behind the scenes w/Tim & the dose crew on Instagram/Twitter:
@timbojbaggins – host
@grams – filmer/editor/producer
@brittanykellyk – producer
Fragment of story that appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Men’s Journal, by Bill Gifford
Shane McConkey spent his life redefining what is possible on skis, and at age 39, he still went bigger than everyone else. But when he died in an over-the-top stunt on March 26, even devoted fans wondered: Have extreme athletes pushed too far?
That last morning, they rode the Sass Pordoi cable car to the summit. Deep in the Dolomite Alps of Italy, Sass Pordoi, at 9,685 feet, is more for tourists and hikers than for skiers; its table-like summit is almost completely ringed by cliffs. But Shane McConkey and JT Holmes had no interest in marked ski runs. They were there for the cliffs.
Clipping in, they skated across the plateau and skied down about 300 vertical feet before traversing a slanting ledge. The snow was firm, verging on icy, so they switched their skis for crampons. It had snowed during the night, and they had already managed to trigger a small slab avalanche, which slid away from under them and roared over the side, falling hundreds of feet. They paused to collect their wits, then kept going, reaching their destination just before 2 pm.
Shane McConkey had jumped this cliff before, in summer, and ski-BASE-ing it had been on his to-do list ever since. Now that he was pushing 40, he was checking items off that list as fast as he could.
To gauge the height of the cliff, they threw stones over the side and timed the drop. Eleven seconds later, Holmes heard one smack the scree field at the base. They guessed the cliff was about 1,400 feet tall, maybe more. Holmes remembers that the trees down in the valley looked really small, and he took comfort in that; it suggested they were high enough to pull off a stunt nobody else but them had ever done: a combined ski-wingsuit-BASE jump.