Doug Coombs - Remembering a Legend, and Victim, of the Slopes
From The New York Times, a touching tribute to Doug Coombs, who perished 10 years ago today in a bad skiing accident in the French Alps.
On Sunday, 10 years after the death of the extreme skier and mountain guide Doug Coombs, his friends will gather on the slopes of La Grave, France, a skiing mecca 50 miles east of Grenoble. Above the run where he perished, they will place a plaque that reads: “Pioneer of the Chugach. King of the steeps. He made it look easy.”
From launching heli-skiing in Alaska to helping popularize backcountry skiing and revolutionizing its gear, Coombs left an indelible mark on the sport, and the plaque is an apt tribute to a man whose contributions continue to reverberate throughout the ski world.
“Few people have impacted skiing as profoundly as Doug Coombs. Whether it was pioneering hundreds of first descents, pushing the boundaries of the backcountry, or influencing innovative ski technology, he completely revolutionized what was thought possible in the mountains,” said Robert Cocuzzo, author of the forthcoming Coombs biography “Tracking the Wild Coomba: The Life of Legendary Skier Doug Coombs.”
Born in Bedford, Mass., Coombs grew up skiing at Nashoba Valley, Mass., and honed his steep-skiing techniques at Bridger Bowl, Mont., before moving to Jackson Hole, Wyo., in 1984. There, he emerged as one of the pre-eminent skiers of his generation.
Known for his boundless passion for the sport and a fast and fluid skiing style, Coombs collected bold first descents across the globe, professional sponsorships, roles in ski films, and two World Extreme Ski Championship victories. By 1993, Outside Magazine dubbed him “The World’s Best Skier.”