Generally, it’s entertaining to watch our mainstream media try and wrap their heads around anything in the ski world. Last year we got a good chuckle from TODAY‘s Al Roker trying to find reason in Cody Townsend’s “Line that Broke the Internet” and just a few weeks ago, we watched as Michael Strahan nearly burst a gasket figuring out how Ian McIntosh survived his 1,200-foot plunge in Alaska’s Neacola Mountains.
But the latest installment of “Mainstream Goes Extreme” isn’t as much funny as it is terrifying. Skier/Ski BASE jumper/speed flyer JT Holmes has linked up with 60 Minutes before, but this time around decided to film with the popular news program during his attempt at a ski BASE jump off the iconic Eiger, a 13,020-foot imposing pillar of rock in Switzerland’s Bernese Alps.
He performs his first jump flawlessly, kiting, and arcing smooth turns on the mountains upper face before throwing a massive double backflip into a successful ski BASE jump. On his second attempt, however, one of Holmes’ ski fails to release during his jump, forcing a spin that could have turned deadly if not for Holmes forcing the ski off a few seconds into his free fall. Elation is quickly marred by a too-close reality.
This isn’t the first time Holmes has witnessed this type of equipment malfunction. The last time was with ski BASE partner, ski icon, and good friend Shane McConkey, who experienced the same issue and was unable to come out of his spin in time, falling to his death in the Italian Dolomites—a tragedy that is still affecting the ski world today.
60 Minutes asked all of the questions we’ve come to expect from these segments—’Why does he do it?’ ‘Is it worth it?’, ‘Did he need to go a second time?’ But, after watching the segment over and over again, this is more than just a silly mainstream media attempt at understanding ‘our world’—it serves as a reality check. We take unneccessary risk everyday (lot’s of us would say we ‘live for it’) but how much is too much? Suddenly the commentators’ concern doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore.
Of all people, Holmes takes these warnings seriously, but even the Lake Tahoe legend weighed in, posting to his Facebook page shortly after the segment debuted on Sunday, “I enjoyed the additional insights from Anderson Cooper, Dan Bussel, and Tom Anderson on 60 Minutes Overtime linked here. Toward the end of this Overtime piece A.C.’s insights into the “why?” [sic] question are really spot on. Smart fellow, that Anderson Cooper.”
How the experience shapes ski BASE jumping moving forward remains to be seen, but for now we can all be thankful that our buddy JT gets a chance to play another day.