Erik Roner, a professional skier who helped pioneer the sport of ski BASE jumping, died after he struck a tree as part of a four-man jump team of parachuters for the opening ceremonies of the fourth annual Squaw Valley Institute Celebrity Golf Tournament in Olympic Valley, Calif.
Lake Tahoe action-sports athlete, BASE jumping pioneer and Nitro Circus cast member Erik Roner died in a skydiving accident Monday morning near Squaw Valley ski resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., the Truckee, Calif.-based Sierra Sun reported.
Roner, a Squaw Valley professional skier known for helping lay the foundation of what ski BASE jumping has become today, was part of a four-man jump team of parachuters for the opening ceremonies of the fourth annual Squaw Valley Institute Celebrity Golf Tournament. Roner reportedly struck a tree on his descent at about 9:45 a.m. Monday, the Sierra Sun reported.
He was the third jumper in the quartet, said witness Roy Tuscany, executive director of the Truckee-based nonprofit High Fives Foundation. Fellow skydivers and Squaw Valley skiers Aaron McGovern and JT Holmes landed safely prior to Roner’s jump. Charles Bryant was the fourth skier who also landed safely, the Sierra Sun reported.
According to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Roner struck the tree and was entangled high above the ground. Rescuers pronounced Roner dead at the scene after removing him from the tree, the Sierra Sun reported.
Earlier Monday, Tuscany told Teton Gravity Research he witnessed the accident. “He hit a tree … he hit a tree so hard. I don’t know what happened from there,” Tuscany said.
Erik Lars Roner was 39. He is survived by his wife, Annika, and two young children, Oskar and Kasper, the Sierra Sun reported.
Tuscany spoke candidly Monday about Roner’s life as an action-sports star—for example, Roner filmed progressive big-mountain ski segments with Teton Gravity Research for several films—but more importantly, as a father and husband, the Sierra Sun reported.
“That’s the most important thing that needs to resonate here, is Erik had a wife and two amazing kids, and that’s what he was most proud of,” Tuscany said.
According to the Squaw Valley Institute, Roner regularly dedicated his time to SVI’s efforts to present enriching and inspirational programs in order to spark “uncommon conversations and intellectual growth” throughout the Lake Tahoe region, the Sierra Sun reported.
“The Squaw Valley Institute is mourning Erik’s loss, and their deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time,” according to a statement from the nonprofit.
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows Spokeswoman Liesl Kenney, meanwhile, expressed similar concern on behalf of the famed ski resort, saying the entire staff there is “profoundly saddened” by Roner’s death. “Erik was an incredibly inspiring person, not only as an athlete but as a friend and family man,” Kenney said. “We will sincerely miss Erik’s presence within this community, and our deepest sympathies are with his family at this time.”
According to a biography on his website, erikroner.com, after the Northern California native graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from BYU, he put his efforts toward making a name for himself in the ski industry, the Sierra Sun reported.
“His athleticism has earned him features in numerous major ski films, accolades from magazines such as Powder, Skiing, Outside, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, FHM, and sponsorship from Hurley, Rockstar, Scott, Klint, DNA and Backcountry.com,” according to his bio.
Roner—known as a co-pioneer of ski BASE jumping along with fellow Squaw Valley skier, the late Shane McConkey—has made numerous first descent ski BASE lines from Chile to Argentina to Alaska to New Zealand and all over Europe. In 2005 Motocross legend Travis Pastrana, and the Nitro Circus crew contacted Roner to help BASE jump dirt bikes into the Grand Canyon, and he eventually joined Nitro Circus, the extreme stunt-based group of daredevils that enjoyed two seasons on MTV, a sold out live World Tour, and the recent completion of a 3D feature film. He’s been sponsored by Rockstar, Hurley, Klint, Scott, DNA, EVA and Backcountry.com, among others, the Sierra Sun reported.
Recently, Roner was a part “Hula Tribe 4 High Fives,” a 50-member team participating in the fall 2013 Tough Mudder event at Northstar California that included skier Rory Bushfield and High Fives recovering athletes, including Tuscany.