Shane McConkey, 39, lived and trained at Squaw Valley's Olympic Village south of Truckee, Calif. He won several national and international skiing competitions, including the X Games and World Extreme Skiing Championships.
He founded the International Free Skiiing Association and had grown popular in recent years for his BASE jumping competitions and big-mountain film exploits.
BASE is an acronym that stands for the four categories from which the participants jump.
The film company Matchstick Productions confirmed his death on Thursday.
McConkely was wearing skis and a parachute when he launched off the cliff in a double backflip, with the expectation that the bindings on the skis would come off in the air. The 'chute was to open and he would then glide down to the ground.
But the stunt went horribly wrong.
"But one ski did not come off. And when that happens the drag on the skis causes you to flip over, so the skis go over your head. So he was struggling with the one ski. Then he also got into a bad spin. So he may have never even pulled his pilot chute. And that's coming from JT Holmes, who Shane was with in Italy and who reviewed the footage of the accident." McConkely's longtime friend, Scott Gaffney, told ESPN Action Sports. "So the combination of the ski, the spin and the pilot chute, apparently. Because you can't throw the pilot chute like that; if you throw it while you're upside down and it wraps around the ski, you're done."
McConkley died upon impact with the snow-covered ground below the cliff, Gaffney speculated.
Gaffney said McConkey was an "icon and a legend" in their sport. He's survived by his wife, Sherry, and 3-year-old daughter, Ayla.