Ski community mourns loss of a legend
McConkey was filming stunts in Italy at the time of his death
Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff
Posted: 03/27/2009 04:34:41 PM MDT
Influential big-mountain skier Shane McConkey, who helped usher in the shaped-ski revolution, was killed Thursday while filming stunts in the mountains of Italy.
McConkey, 39, helped pioneer the combining of skiing with BASE jumping in which jumpers deploy parachutes to safely land after skiing off high cliffs.
But McConkey's chute didn't properly deploy on Thursday, the skier's mother, Glenn McConkey said in an interview at her home in Park City.
McConkey was filming for his sponsor Red Bull at the time of the ski-BASE accident, she said.
"This was a worry that we always shared in the back of our minds," said Bob Greer, McConkey's step-father. "It's not natural for parents to outlive their children. It's not how things are supposed to be."
McConkey leaves behind his wife Sherry, and a three-year-old daughter named Ayla, said the deceased skier's mother.
"He traveled a lot and whenever they could, they would go together," said Glenn McConkey. "Shane was a terrific family man. His family came first and he would have traveled less, but that's how he made his living."
McConkey's father, Jim McConkey, was the first ski-school director at the ski area now known as Park City Mountain Resort, she said.
Several years ago, Shane McConkey was invited to participate in the ribbon cutting for McConkey's lift, named for a legendary mountain bowl at PCMR. "He just loved the outdoors and loved being an adventurer," Glenn McConkey said about her son. "I didn't worry. I believed
that he should take advantage of every day, and make the best of it."
Her son reportedly experienced problems in the air after launching off a cliff with expectations of parachuting safely to the ground, Web site espn.go.com reported Thursday.
Details are unclear, but McConkey had apparently planned to double back flip off the Val Scura couloir on Sassongher, in the Italian Dolomites, Ski Area Management magazine reported this week.
"But it appears that one ski failed to release, which may have become caught in his parachute or sent him into an uncontrollable spin," the magazine reported.
McConkey, whose sponsors included K2, Red Bull, Sessions, Oakley, Marker and Nordica, was one of skiing's more innovative professionals.
He heavily influenced the development of wider skis and boards with reverse camber, his mother explained.
McConkey lived in Northern California and was a resort ambassador at Squaw Valley USA in Lake Tahoe.
"This is Shane's wall," Glenn McConkey said about a room in her house where her son's photos, medals and other mementos are displayed.
McConkey said she tried not to think about her son one day dying because of his risky lifestyle. "That's the kind of thing you don't think about," she said. "I decided that a long time ago, and that's how you've got to live your life."