If you ever wondered why Doug Coombs was once called the “world’s best skier,” then check out this photo on the wall in the entry of K2 Sports in Seattle. No air or extreme terrain, just great form…
Coombs was born in Boston and grew up in Bedford, Massachusetts, skiing in New Hampshire and Vermont. He attended Montana State University in Bozeman where he honed his skiing skills at nearby Bridger Bowl before becoming a fixture of the extreme skiing scene in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, helping to found Valdez Heli-Ski Guides (and the heliskiing industry) in Alaska in 1994, and twice winning the World Extreme Skiing Championship, in 1991 and 1993.
Coombs married Emily Gladstone in 1992, and in 1993 they founded Doug Coombs Steep Skiing Camps Worldwide in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In 1997 the Coombs’ moved the business to Europe, and the company continues to operate today in La Grave and Chamonix, in the French Alps. Doug and his wife Emily have a son, David.
While skiing with friends on April 3, 2006, Doug Coombs died from a severe fall at the Couloir de Polichinelle in La Grave, France. He was trying to rescue his friend Chad VanderHam, who had fallen himself. Both skiers fell approximately 1500 feet. Doug Coombs was found dead after the fall, and VanderHam later died from his injuries. Coombs was 48.
While not an exhaustive list, Doug Coombs has been featured in a number of ski films, including:
- Aspen Extreme (1993), credited as stunt skier
- Teton Gravity Research’s The Continuum (1996)
- Warren Miller’s Cold Fusion (2001)
- Warren Miller’s Storm (2002)
- Warren Miller’s Journey (2003)
- Waiting Game (2005)
- Fantastic Four (2005), stunts
- Warren Miller’s Off the Grid (2006) contains a tribute to Doug Coombs
- Steep (2007)
- Swift. Silent. Deep. (2010), archive footage.