"Yee hee hoo! Yeah baby yeah!" shouts professional kiteboader Damien LeRoy. He sounds slightly like Austin Powers when his skis come down and make contact again with the snowy mountainside, but that good-natured enthusiasm is as far as the similarity goes. LeRoy is a total badass, whose adventures include getting serious air while kite skiing - also known as "snowkiting" - in the Alaskan wilderness. GoPro just released a video from that trip today.
Normally the pro athlete can be found in much warmer climates, paragliding or kiteboarding along the waves off the beaches of Jupiter, Fla., where he's based. But he also knows his way around the slopes. Born in Vail, Colo., LeRoy grew up doing a lot of skiing, but repeated knee surgeries prompted him to throw himself into kiteboarding, according to his online bio, and he's been a high-flier in kite sports since 1999.
The trip to Alaska marked an exceptional return to the slopes. "Truly Alaska is the end of the road. It has everything. It's massive and beautiful and dangerous," he said in the video posted today. "I think if you go into it respecting Mother Nature, you can come out ahead."
RELATED: Kitesurfers Flock Together In World Record Parade
While watching the video, I thought this guy sounded familiar. Ah, now I remember: Last summer while reporting on record-breaking paraglider Antoine Girard, I learned that LeRoy was recovering from an awful accident in Florida. He'd had to bail 150 feet up in the air while paragliding near the beach in his hometown, and barely survived the fall.
Recovery and rehabilitation followed. He had to learn how to walk again, the Jupiter Courier Newsweekly reported last November.
While perusing the videos LeRoy posted on his official website, I found another video from Alaska posted in early January 2015, where he's wearing the same thing. Seems like the newly released GoPro video might be from that same trip, well before his accident. Doesn't make the heights he reached on skis there any less impressive.