World Extreme Ski Championship Founder and Alaska Pioneer Passes Away

World Extreme Ski Championship Founder and Alaska Pioneer Passes Away


World Extreme Ski Championship Founder and Alaska Pioneer Passes Away


Photo Credit: Timothy Konrad

Photo Credit: Timothy Konrad

On Monday, the founder of the World Extreme Skiing Championships in Alaska, Karen Davey Stewart was found pinned underneath an ATV just outside of Valdez. She was rushed to the Providence Valdez Medical Center where she was consequently pronounced dead upon arrival. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, she was riding alone at the time of the accident. Stewart was 62 years old.

But her legacy lives on.

During the early 1990’s, skiing was dying. Innovators like Tom Simms and Jake Burton were taking over the winter sports world with newly designed snowboards and it appeared as though skiing might be on its way out.

Unfortunately, many skiers watched from the sidelines and pouted. However, Karen Davey Stewart had no interest in sitting idle while snowboarding took center stage. Instead, she brought skiing to what would become its Mecca—Alaska.

Remember: TV Footage of the First World Extreme Skiing Championship

In 1991, Stewart and her late husband John McCune brought together some of the best skiers in the world to participate in the inaugural World Extreme Ski Championships (WESC). Competitors like Doug Coombs, Dean Cummings, and Jon Hunt would lay ground for what would become Freeride competitive skiing. Whether that’s the FWT or X-Games, Stewart helped skiing thrive in both a competitive and philosophical sense.

“The X Games was born from all this,” 1995 WESC champion Dean Cummings told The Alaska Dispatch News.“There was a handful of people that wanted to highlight what they thought was the best skiing in the world, or what could be the best skiing in the world” and Karen Davey Stewart was one of those people.

However, her involvement in pioneering Alaska’s mythic ranges extended into the philosophy of skiing as well. All of a sudden, unattainable peaks were just a helicopter flight away. In Alaska, skiing found its new frontier—The big mountains of the Chugach range.

And as skiers, we have Karen Davey Stewart to thank for that.

Rest in Peace.

Read the Entire Alaska Dispatch Article Here: Woman who helped bring extreme skiing championships to Alaska dies in ATV accident

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