Chamonix Bans Wingsuits In Sport’s Deadliest Year

The renowned extreme sports town in France has placed a six-month moratorium on wingsuit flying following its fifth wingsuit fatality this year.

Three wingsuit BASE jumpers prepare to leap in Chamonix, France. Photo credit; Leo-setä

Chamonix mayor Eric Fournier placed the temporary ban on the sport after a professional Russian wingsuit jumper, Ratmir Nigimyanov, 32, crashed into a chalet and was killed, according to French media outlets.

No one else was reported injured.

Nigimyanov’s death marks the fifth such fatality in Chamonix this year. It is the 35th death for the sport overall, making 2016 the deadliest year for wingsuit fliers to date.

Deadliest Year For Dangerous Sport

The news is the most notable reaction to what has become a grim chapter for the sport. The ban does not appear to affect BASE jumping with a parachute.

BASE, an acronym for building, antenna, span, and Earth, jumping is inherently risky. Jumpers reach speeds well over 100 mph and unlike their skydiving counterparts, who jump from thousands of feet higher, BASE jumpers have a very small window to deploy their chute and slow down.

Wingsuit BASE jumpers add an element of flight to the sport. Cutting-edge aero suits with wing flaps help steer their fall. Often this means soaring within feet or inches of cliff faces and other structures.

The French Alps are a popular wingsuit destination, but Chamonix’s ban could have long-lasting ramifications for a sport that has been largely unregulated to date.

Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.