World Cup Skier, Girlfriend Plummet 2.3K Feet in Alps

Jean Daniel Pession, 28, and girlfriend Elisa Arlian die on Mount Zerbion in Italy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2024 7:00 AM CDT
World Cup Skier 'Fell Into the Void' in Italian Alps
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Customdesigner)

"A terrible tragedy strikes the world of winter sports," a release from the Italian Winter Sports Federation, or FISI, declared over the weekend, announcing the death of a young World Cup skier and his girlfriend in the Italian Alps. Per NBC News, local media report that Jean Daniel Pession, 28, and Elisa Arlian, said to be 26 or 27, plummeted about 2,300 feet from Mount Zerbion, in the Aosta Valley resort town of Champoluc. Helicopters were dispatched to search for the couple after they didn't return from a day of skiing and their families notified emergency services, per Italian outlet Rai, which notes the two were finally tracked down by tracing their cellphone pings.

"They were almost at the summit, just a step away, when suddenly they were betrayed by the mountain they loved so much," RAI said in a video, noting the couple "fell into the void" before being covered in snow, per People. "When they were found, they were still tied together, like in a final embrace." Pession, who had yearned to be a mountain guide, was a member of the Italian national speed skiing team who'd come in 15th place in the 2021 World Cup event, and 22nd in 2022's World Championships. Arlian, meanwhile, was a schoolteacher and ski instructor.

People features photos of the happy couple, including one that Pession posted on New Year's Day in 2023, showing him smooching a beaming Arlian at a wedding. "For another hundred years like this," he wrote. Condolences are now pouring in. "President Flavio Roda and the entire Federation express their condolences to Pession's family for this tragic misfortune," FISI said via a statement. "Two young lives shattered by an accident in the mountains," reads a release from the council for the Aosta Valley. "That mountain which was their passion." (More skier stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.