Nitro Circus star, Squaw Valley local Erik Roner dead after parachute accident near Lake Tahoe
Special to The Union
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Action-sports athlete, ski BASE jumping pioneer and Nitro Circus cast member Erik Roner died in a skydiving accident Monday morning near Squaw Valley ski resort.
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 10 a.m. Monday, and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to a statement from Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows.
He was the third jumper in the quartet, Roy Tuscany, executive director of the Truckee-based nonprofit High Fives Foundation told the Sierra Sun.
Fellow skydivers and Squaw Valley skiers Aaron McGovern and JT Holmes landed safely prior to Roner’s accident. Charles Bryant was the fourth skier; he also landed safely.
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 reportedly said. For years, Roner had filmed progressive big-mountain ski segments with Teton Gravity Research for several films.
Roner was 37. He is survived by his wife, Annika, and two young children, Oskar and Kasper.
In his interview with the Sun, Tuscany spoke candidly about Roner’s life as an action-sports star — but more importantly, as a father and husband.
“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. ‘That, more than anything, is what I hope people recognize … he was a family man, and had two of the most amazing beautiful kids in the world.”
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 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.”
Roner, a well-documented Hunter S. Thompson fan, often quoted the late journalist in interviews and on his website, including the following famous quote that describes the traits one must possess to live a free and spirited life: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
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.
“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.
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.
The Sierra Sun will update this story as more information becomes available.
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