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SKIING Scene: Mind the Gap

posted: 11/30/1999

As robbie knievel prepared to jump the Grand Canyon last spring, he had no trouble attracting prime-time TV coverage, sponsors, and the morbid curiosity of the world.

Meanwhile, in the lowly world of extreme skiing, gap mania had also taken a firm hold¿but without all the hype. From Colorado to B.C., gap jumps were growing in both popularity and risk. Tahoe skiers were hucking everything from bike paths to locomotives. In the Utah backcountry, Chad Zurinskas and Candide Thovex both successfully jumped an amazing 119-foot chasm. Nearby, several hucksters cleared a 90-footer, including Jamie Pierre, who threw a monster back flip over it. For proof, check out Clay Pigeons from Wind-Up Films,¿Ed.

Though no one's jumping the Grand Canyon (yet), the danger is still horrific. In 1995, Tahoe skier Terry Cook, trying to gap a four-lane highway, fell short, shattered both of his legs, and hasn't skied since. "On the 119-foot gap," Utah photographer Brent Benson reports, "Candide almost bit his tongue off, Chad got whiplash, and the only other kid who tried it almost broke his neck." Hucker, beware.

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