"He wasn't just some stupid adrenaline junkie," says Sherry McConkey, of her late husband, Shane. "He had an incredible heart, and was an incredible husband, and father. That for me was the most important thing, for people to see how he lived."
Alfredo Martinez/Red Bull Content Pool Shane McConkey in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, 2007.
The 2009 death of the pro skier and BASE-jumper in the Dolomites at age 39 stirred not just sadness, but also criticism of a man who spent his life pioneering how to push ever-bigger limits outdoors. McConkey was known as a stylish, aggressive athlete with a playful side, and also helped advance a sport in which enthusiasts leap or ski off of structures with wingsuits and parachutes, letting them fly unencumbered at low altitudes before landing. According to a a 2009 statement to ESPN by J.T. Holmes, McConkey's skis failed to release quickly, and he was not able to deploy his parachute. Holmes, also a professional skier, was with him on his final trip.
In the aftermath of McConkey's fatal accident, Sherry saw an outpouring of support from their community in Lake Tahoe and beyond. But she also faced tough questions: Should a husband and father of a toddler be jumping off cliffs, some asked, much less inventing new ways to do it?More »