Mickey Wilson, A-Basin chairlift rescuer, earns one bonus hero point as Ellen DeGeneres probes new details

These guys didn’t even know each other! They were pulled together only by fate and their mutual friends, Hans and Billy!

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Mickey Wilson had a more heroic day than we knew.

Wilson is the professional slackliner/part-time ski instructor who recently shimmied down a chairlift cable to rescue a guy who was hanging by his neck from a chair at Arapahoe Basin. The rescuer and the rescued made their first joint appearance together on The Ellen DeGeneres Show over the weekend.

DeGeneres ran Wilson and Richard (who didn’t give a last name) through a pretty standard recount of the horrifying/inspiring story. But one detail jumped out at me: Mickey Wilson had already bought Richard a breakfast burrito that morning.

C’mon! These guys didn’t even know each other! They were pulled together only by fate and their mutual friends, Hans and Billy!

And yet there was Mickey Wilson, buying this cadet-level homeboy a hearty breakfast for no reason except to maximize the shredding. “You gotta be fueled for ski day,” he told Ellen sagely. (It was a “great powder day.”)

So, you pretty much know the rest of the story of the rescue. Richard doesn’t remember much of the incident — which, seriously, was really awful. Richard hasn’t spoken about it publicly, as far as I know, but he wanted to go on with Ellen because he “really believes in you and your cause and all the great things you do,” as Wilson explained.

Anyway, as Richard recalls:

“There’s little figments that I think are memories, where I can see the snow in front of me, and going backwards, which is always unusual if you’re on a chairlift,” he said. Then his vision was constricting, and apparently he had time to let out a scream.

Wilson, as you know, pulled off a ridiculous high-wire act to get to his new friend. Ski patrol was on the way, but Richard hadn’t breathed for four minutes by the time Wilson climbed down onto the chair. A ski patroler perfectly tossed a knife, which Wilson perfectly caught with his injured hand. (They gave big ups to the ski patrol, by the way.)

Wilson cut Richard down, Richard broke a rib and tweaked his neck, and, long story short, Ellen DeGeneres gave each of them a two-person, seven-day vacation package to Hawaii’s Big Island.

They didn’t have to go together, she said, but she recommended Richard bring Mickey for safety.