Extreme Skiing: Background information when reading This Is How It Really Sounds

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This Is How It Really Sounds

by Stuart Archer Cohen

This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen X
This Is How It Really Sounds by Stuart Archer Cohen
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2015, 368 pages

    Apr 2016, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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Extreme Skiing

This article relates to This Is How It Really Sounds

Print Review

In This Is How It Really Sounds, one of the Pete Harringtons is an extreme skier – a sport, he complains, not many people find appealing or artistic because, unlike regular downhill skiing, it does not have as much cachet with the general public.

Shane McConkeyThe strict definition of extreme skiing is taking on very steep cliffs, with the skier making moves as he or she goes along. The cliffs must be at least at a 45-degree angle to qualify. Extreme skiers are judged, not just in terms of the challenges they take on, but also their beauty and grace while in the air. This is especially true when extreme skiers punctuate their drops with aerial calisthenics also called ski jumping.

Extreme skiing comes in many versions: heli skiing is where the athlete is dropped down on the mountain slope by means of a helicopter, often because the terrain is largely inaccessible. Even if heli skiing is named because of the method of transport involved, it qualifies as extreme since it accesses difficult areas much beyond the path of regular skiers. The potential for avalanches and sicknesses at such altitudes is extreme and organizations such as the US Heli Ski Association recognize these dangers and promote safety. Snow kiting involves skiing while being attached to a kite or sail that essentially functions as a mechanism to funnel air and allow the skier to be able to fly over patches of rocky terrain if necessary. Ski gliding involves much the same principle except it is executed with a hang glider.

Shane McConkeyArguably the craziest version is ski-BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, Earth) where the athlete goes off any ski slope at high speeds, and then throws away the skis to deploy an attached parachute to deliver him or her to safety. In 2009, athlete Shane McConkey was killed in such an extreme skiing event when he attempted a 2000-ft drop and couldn't shake off his skis in time to prevent them from entangling in his parachute.

A really great video of heli skiing:

Two images of Shane McConkey, professional skier and BASE jumper, courtesy of alchetron.com

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Poornima Apte

This "beyond the book article" relates to This Is How It Really Sounds. It originally ran in June 2015 and has been updated for the April 2016 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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