Almost exactly one year ago, noted professional skier Josh Daiek completed a stunt he'd been eyeing for years at Echo Summit Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe — a ski jump over Highway 50. It was all a matter of waiting for the right snow.
The stunt has already made the rounds among ski fans on YouTube — Daiek successfully landed the backflip on February 6, 2019, and the video went online in October as part of a promo for Solomon's The 7 Stages Of Blank. But this past week Daiek spoke to the Chronicle about how he did the stunt, launching himself off a 90-foot cliff only to land in powder on the opposite side of the highway. It's a trick known in the trade as "road-gapping," and as the Chronicle notes, "While typically not illegal, [it] can be extremely dangerous — for obvious reasons."
As Tahoe City pro skier Cody Townsend tells the Chronicle of Daiek's stunt, "Most of the gaps [like this] are known and have been done before, and very few people are pioneering new ones."
The spot is on Highway 50 as it rounds a bend around Echo Lake, before intersecting with Upper Truckee Road and Route 89. Daiek says he'd been eying the cliff for years, but it wasn't until last February, with all its fresh powder, when there was enough of a cushion to catch him on the far side of the highway. He says he'd previously aborted a planned attempt at the jump in the snowy 2016-17 season, because the conditions weren't perfect.
Daiek explains that he and his cousin Kyle Johnson went up the mountain on foot the night before the jump around 10 p.m. with snow shovels, and they dug out a run and a ramp jump that they calculated would let him clear 150 feet over the roadway. The video header claims this is the biggest ever road-gap jump ever completed.
Also, they actually filmed him doing the jump twice, because the first one didn't go so perfectly. From the Chronicle interview:
Coming upside down above the road, Daiek saw a pair of semitrucks and morning commuters passing below, oblivious. For a few moments, he floated through the sky.
As his body came around, Daiek realized that he was headed toward a bump in the snow. “So I just put my feet down and prepared for the hardest impact.”
He smashed feet-first onto the bump, “and my skis just exploded off my feet.”
“It was a hard impact,” Daiek recalled. “It frickin’ hurt.”
The second one, though, was perfect, and he skied out of the landing as shown in the video.
By no means should anyone else try this, ever.