Vermont native Ryan Hawks, a world-class freeskier, died Tuesday morning, March 1, after a crash Sunday at the North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood, Calif.
He was 25 years old.
ESPN reported that Hawks did a backflip off a large cliff on Kirkwood's Cirque and crashed upon landing. He was treated on the spot by ski patrol, and flown by helicopter to Reno's Renown Health Center, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. He died Tuesday morning.
Hawks was born into an avid skiing family in South Burlington, Vt., and grew up skiing Mad River Glen.
"I've known him since he was a little kid," Mad River's Eric Friedman said. "Ryan was very famous for going very big. His nickname was Flyin' Ryan. He always thrilled the crowd."
Hawks moved on to Sugarbush, and skied with the Sugarbush Diamond Dogs. He did some coaching for them, and some coaching for Mad River, then headed West.
Hawks' bio on the team's website states: "My father always said, "A Skier caries his own skis." - so I learned how to carry my batman skies by the age of two and have been skiing ever since. I grew up skiing at Sugarbush, Mad River Glen and innumerable backyard jumps.† After high school I began my 8 year mechanical engineering plan at the University of Vermont where I study during the fall semester and then take a skiing sabbatical for the entire winter. My strength as a skier is versatility. I learned to ski on firm east coast bumps, ice jumps and tight trees. I grew up on the slopes and was instilled with a deep passion and respect for my surroundings by those very same mountains. Three years ago, I hitched a ride West and have been here every winter since."
Hawks traveled with friends in a van called "The General" -- plastered with Mad River Glen stickers -- to competitions around the country. His companions included Lars Chickering-Ayers, Dylan Crossman, and Silas Chickering-Ayers, Mad River Glen skiers. The two Chickering-Ayers brothers and Tom Runcie, another grad of the Glen, came in first, second, and third at the 20th annual U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships Feb. 20 at Crested Butte.
Hawks divided his time between the University of Vermont, where he studied mechanical engineering, and skiing out West every winter.
"He was a very nice kid, that's the worst part,” Friedman said. “Skiing was just a small part of his life."