World Cup Skier and Girlfriend Found Dead on Italian Mountain

Jean Daniel Pession and his girlfriend, Elisa Arlian, died together after reportedly falling 700 meters from the top of Italy’s Monte Zerbion (2,719m). Neither skier survived the fall, the Italian Winter Sports Federation confirmed in a June 1 statement — but rescuers found them in each other’s arms.

Still tied together

Pession, a 28-year-old World Cup skier from Aosta Valley, Italy, knew the peak well. RAI, Italy’s national public broadcasting company, reported in a tweet that he and Arlian were “almost at the summit, just a step away, when suddenly they were betrayed by the mountain they loved so much.” Rescuers found them after their fatal fall “still tied together, like in a final embrace.”

The couple headed toward the peak in the early morning, according to RAI. When they failed to return promptly, family members alerted emergency responders. An arduous helicopter search finally located their bodies, thanks in part to a device that managed to pick up a cell phone signal from one of the skiers. By the time crews reached two red-jacketed skiers, it was too late.

Body recovery was successful — Pession and Arlian’s remains were transported to Aosta Valley’s Champoluc mortuary.

Pession’s World Cup speed skiing career began in 2021. His best result was an 11th-place finish at a November event that season in Idrefiall, Sweden.

Arlian, 26, had worked as a ski instructor in Saint-Barthélemy and a primary school teacher.

Among others, condolences for the couple came from the President of the Aosta Valley Regional Council, Alberto Bertin.

“Two young lives broken by an accident in the mountains, that mountain which was their passion. In this moment of profound sadness, we express our closeness to the families, friends, and the entire sporting community, holding us close to them with affection and compassion,” Bertin told RAI.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.