Tragic news this week from the North American ski scene: skier Sam Coffey died on Monday, May 20th after suffering a stroke while on a surf vacation in Mexico. He was 29.
As a skier, Coffey flourished in multiple aspects of the sport. Coffey was a dominant freeride skier, a former NCAA All-American racer and ski technician for US Olympian Wiley Maple. He floated effortlessly between the freeride and racing worlds, and both are worse off in his absence.
Coffey was also a founding member the “Freaks” ski gang, a motley crew of ex-racers and rowdy freeriders based in Aspen, Colorado. Known as “Aspen’s fastest ski gang,” Coffey and the Freaks exemplified speed and style, ripping aggressive Super-G style turns on gnarly lines, and throwing 3s and backflips off massive cliffs in the central and southern Colorado backcountry.
Though we shared race courses, I can’t say I had the privilege of knowing Sam, but nothing I’ve heard from his friends suggests he was anything less than an exemplar of the ski community. Off hill, Coffey was known as one of the kindest, most genuine skiers around, who found no trouble keeping things light and easy at all times. His carefree, authentic attitude came to define the Freaks, who took their name from Hunter S. Thompson’s Aspen ‘Freak Power’ movement in the 1960s and 70s.
One of Sam’s final Instagram posts reads “… and skiing with your best friends is still the greatest thing in the world”, with a video of him, and fellow Freaks Baker Boyd and Wiley Miller ripping creamy pow in the Colorado backcountry.
He will be greatly missed, and the global ski community is undoubtedly darker in the loss of his light.