Legendary big mountain skier and BASE jumper Shane McConkey lost his life while performing a ski BASE jump off the Sass Pardoi cliff in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy on March 26, 2009.
A pioneer of the ski-BASE-ing phenomenon, Shane 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. Shane was filming with Matchstick Productions and Red Bull at the time (much of the footage from MSP and Red Bull went into the production of McCONKEY, a documentary celebrating Shane’s life – trailer above).
Much of the text below is courtesy of Scott Gaffney, one of Shane’s closest friends.
As one of the most versatile skiers in the history of the sport, during his 17-year professional freeskiing career McConkey won everything from mogul tour events to big mountain competitions to skiercross races to big air events. He starred in more than 15 popular ski movies including the heralded “There’s Something About McConkey” and was honored as "The People’s Choice for Male Skier of the Year three years in a row. In the latter stages of his career, McConkey discovered BASE jumping and quickly became the forefather of ski BASE jumping, seeing potential to ski lines never thought possible.
One of the most forward thinking individuals in the sport, in the mid 1990s, McConkey single handedly convinced the ski world to get on fat skis to ski mountains faster and more easily and, seeing that skiing powder is more akin to floating on water, he proceeded to convince his ski sponsor, Volant, to produce a reverse sidecut, reverse camber ski he dubbed the Spatula that challenged decades of ski design. Knowing the ski would be scoffed at by the industry establishment, McConkey illustrated his point by mounting a pair of 1970’s jumping waterskis and shredding a massive British Columbia peak with ease in MSP’s film, “Focused,” and inadvertently gave rise to a functional sliding turn now fondly referred to as a “McConkey Turn.” Today, nearly every reputable ski manufacturer produces a reverse sidecut, reverse cambered ski born from Shane’s original idea.
Shane was a constant entertainer. His ability to bring fun everywhere he went was legendary and the mere mention of his name always made the people who knew him smile. Countless magazine articles and film segments revealed a man who enjoyed the lighter side of life. When a season was cut short in 1997 by a knee injury, McConkey gave birth to Saucerboy, a saucer-riding, Jack Daniels swilling character who brought hilarity to the industry. McConkey’s comedic, fun-loving personality was ever-present on screen and off.
Oakley offers its heartfelt condolences to his wife Sherry, daughter Ayla and the members of his immediate and extended family around the world.