From the Telemarktips.com website...
4/3-- 10:30 pm PDT--- Doug Coombs has been killed in a fall while skiing in or around La Grave, France. Details of Coomb's death are just starting to emerge, but earlier reports that the legendary guide and pioneering extreme skier was caught in an avalanche appear to have been erroneous. The most current information we are receiving, from a source in contact with people on the scene in La Grave, is that Doug Coombs was skiing at the end of the day with three friends. They were descending a steep couloir. One of the four, reportedly a man from Colorado who had been a regular in La Grave the past couple of seasons, began skiing first, while Coombs and the others watched from above. The friend from Colorado apparently hit a patch with an ice layer underneath and fell in what was described as a definite "no-fall" zone. The Coloradoan reportedly washed over a cliff and disappeared from view.
At this point the details become sketchy. Coombs is said to have wanted to get a rope in order to check on his fallen friend's condition. While assessing the situation, Coombs also fell. The remaining two skiers in the party then called for a heli rescue. When the helicopter arrived some 20 to 30 minutes later, Doug Coombs was already dead. The victim from Colorado was still breathing, but unfortunately died later in the hospital.
Once called the "Clark Kent of skiing" by Skiing Mag, the unassuming-looking Doug Coombs began his guiding career in 1986 as a heli guide in Jackson, Wyoming. He won the first ever World Extreme Skiing Championships in Valdez Alaska in 1991, and soon after returned with his wife Emily to start the first heli ski operation there, Valdez Heli-Ski Guides. Within a few years, Doug and Emily's operation employed a team of 12 guides using three A-star helicopters to serve clients from all over the world. In 1997 the Coombs' moved their other operation-- Doug Coombs Steep Skiing Camps Worldwide-- to the European alps, running camp sessions out of Verbier and La Grave.
Reaction to the news of the untimely and tragic death of Doug Coombs has been pouring in all evening. Russell Rainey called in to share stories of skiing with Coombs in and around Jackson Hole. "Doug Coombs was such a beautiful skier and human being," said Rainey. "The last time I skied with Doug was here at Snow King of all places. We ran bumps together over and over on the steepest run on the mountain. The bumps were so big we would lose sight of each other in the troughs, but Doug made it look easy and he was as relaxed as he would have been sipping espresso in the lodge." Rainey continued, "but the thing that made Doug such an outstanding person was his way with people. When he was instructing or coaching he had the ability to make everyone feel special, whether they were negotiating a steep and hairy chute, or making turns down a blue run. He would tell them how great they were doing and just be super supportive. I was sickened by the news tonight of Doug's passing. It's such a terrible loss to the skiing community, and a horrible tragedy for Emily and their young son. My heart goes out to them"
Others recalled Coombs' easy style, quick smile and warm personality. "He was just an incredibly good guy," said one, a sentiment that seems to be shared by all who knew him.
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