Ski-BASE jumping is the recreational sport of skiing at a high speed off of a cliff or mountain and free-falling through the air, using a parachute to descend to the ground, therefore combining the two sports of skiing and BASE jumping. Participants often perform tricks or manoeuvres during the freefall and remove their skis mid-air in order to safely deploy the parachute and land.
Ski-BASE jumping is different from other forms of parachuting or BASE jumping as it requires an advanced skiing ability alongside traditional BASE jumping skills. BASE jumping is largely executed in alpine conditions, and is considered a highly dangerous sport.
Ski-BASE jumping usually requires the following equipment:
See also: Shane McConkey
While no studies have been performed concerning the mortality rate within the sport of ski-BASE jumping, a 2002 study of the fatality risk for BASE jumping estimates a death rate of 1 per 60 participants.
Famous pioneer of ski-BASE jumping Shane McConkey died in an accident during a ski-BASE jump at the mountain Sass Pordoi in the Dolomites of Italy in 2009 when he was unable to release his skis before deploying his parachute. The mountain was 600 metres above ground level and located next to the renowned ski resort of Corvora. After performing a double back-flip from the cliff face, he was flipped upside down due to a technical issue with releasing his skis. McConkey was unable to release the parachute prior to reaching the ground. He was 39 years old. McConkey had already BASE jumped the same cliff the year before and was yet to attempt a ski-BASE jump from the mountain.
A subsequent documentary outlining his life and death was released in 2013, titled McConkey. The documentary premiered in April 2013 at the Tribeca Film Festival. In an interview recorded close to the time of his death, McConkey described his experience with ski-BASE jumping as 'I'm getting maximum enjoyment out of life and I'll never stop".
In 2008, professional freestyle skier Max Kuzsaj suffered near-fatal injuries during a ski-BASE jump at Echo Mountain in Utah. He was hospitalised after being blown into the cliff during the jump.
Ski-BASE jumper Erik Roner perished while performing a normal skydiving jump in Lake Tahoe, California in 2015. Roner was known for ski-BASE jumping from well-known locations including Cody Peak in Jackson Hole.
The primary legal issue of ski-BASE jumping is related to the legality of performing such jumps within particular locations.
The application to perform the first ski-BASE jump by Rick Sylvester at the Yosemite Valley was rejected by national park authorities who banned participants from using the space. They illegally skied against the orders of the national park in order to complete the jump. The jump was performed at 11:00 am on January 30, 1972, and required a helicopter to airlift the camera crew and skiers to the slope. A large orange banner had also been placed on the valley floor in order to mark the landing position for Sylvester. Although the crew had been threatened with imprisonment prior to completing the stunt, they were never caught.
Since 1979, over 6,000 illegal jumps have been performed in and around Yosemite National Park.
Ski-BASE jumping is banned across all 55 US national parks, with moderate fines enforced for trespassers. Few places exist that allow ski-BASE jumps to be legally performed. Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho, is one of the only bridges within the US that allows ski-BASE jumps. Utah also contains various sites that ski-BASE jumps are able to be executed legally from, forming part of the Bureau of Land Management land. These sites include Little Cottonwood Canyon, Albion Basin, Provo Canyon and Rock Canyon.
Professional skier Matthias Giraud estimated that there are between 20 and 30 participants of ski-BASE jumping worldwide.
There are various films and documentaries that contain ski-BASE jumping. Some include:
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