Pro skier, girlfriend die after 700-metre fall off mountain in Italian Alps

Elisa Arlian, left, and Jean Daniel Pession fell to their deaths while mountain climbing in the Italian Alps on June 1, 2024. Instagram @jeandanielpession

A World Cup skier and his girlfriend died following a fall of nearly 2,300 feet (about 700 metres) while mountain climbing in the Italian Alps.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation (Federazione Italiana Sport Invernali) announced the news of Jean Daniel Pession and Elisa Arlian’s deaths on Saturday. In a statement written in Italian, the federation called the incident a “tragic misfortune.”

According to the national Italian broadcaster Rai News, 28-year-old Pession and 27-year-old Arlian fell the great height from a spot near the summit of Monte Zerbion in Aosta Valley.

The climbing route was reportedly familiar to both Pession and Arlian, who were Italian.

As is standard practice among mountaineers, the couple were wearing a safety rope to link them together. They were climbing alone.

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It is not yet clear how or why the couple fell.

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Rescuers launched an hours-long helicopter search after their families reported Pession and Arlian missing when they did not return following their climb on Saturday. Their location was discovered using equipment that detects cellphone signals.

The couple’s bodies were found still attached together by their safety rope.

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In 2021, Pession placed 15th in the final World Cup standings for speed skiing. The next year, he finished 22nd at the World Championships in Vars, France.

Arlian was a teacher and ski instructor.

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