Cofounder of World Extreme Ski Championship Dies in Alaska

Karen Davey Stewart, 62, found unresponsive on her ATV

The woman who helped create the World Extreme Ski Championships, Karen Davey Stewart, was found unresponsive on her ATV just outside her hometown of Valdez, Alaska. She was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead on Tuesday, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. The cause of death was not yet reported.

Stewart's effort to bring the World Extreme Ski Championships to Valdez, Alaska, in 1991, helped popularize the area for skiers, filmmakers, and heli skiing. PHOTO: H20 Guides/Facebook
Stewart’s effort to bring the World Extreme Ski Championships to Valdez, Alaska, helped popularize the area for skiers, filmmakers, and heli skiing. PHOTO: H20 Guides/Facebook

Stewart and her late husband, John McCune, helped organize the first World Extreme Ski Championships in 1991, drawing the eyes of skiers to Alaska’s remote mountains and deep powder.

The pair helped pioneer heli skiing in Alaska, attracting former U.S. Ski team member Dean Cummings to Valdez. Cummings, winner of the 2012 Powder Award for Best Line, now owns H20 Guides, a heli skiing operation in the area. Cummings said the World Extreme Ski Championships helped reinvent the sport.

“When we arrived, it was more incredible than even going to a World Cup race,” he told Fox Sports after Stewart’s death. “Having people like John and Karen meeting you at the airport, inviting you into their homes and all of a sudden, you realize you’re going to be part of something big, part of something that was going to blow up.”

Stewart was 62. Our thoughts are with her family.