As I woke up this morning and realized the date, it dawned on me that it’s been 13-years since the world lost a great man. Skiing lost its greatest, most dynamic influence, and I lost one of the most motivational people in my life, both on and off skis.
Thirteen years ago, to this day, we lost Shane McConkey to a tragic ski base (skiing combined with base jumping) accident. In this, he was pushing the sport he, for the most part, created, innovated, and progressed. Many people can recount exactly what they were doing when life-changing events occurred; for me, Shane’s death was one of these. Sitting in a college library scrolling through ski blogs instead of doing homework and finding this news brought me to tears.
Shane was one of those people who changed the world in a big way on many levels but did with just being himself, which made him so great. Yes, Shane changed skiing forever by essentially developing, testing, and proving the first real powder ski, yes he dominated every aspect of skiing at one point in his career, and yes, he was one of the biggest names in skiing, but I feel none of this mattered to him. He was doing what he loved and pursuing it with passion, and all these other accomplishments were just byproducts of him following his passion.
In losing Shane, I lost a huge influence in my skiing but, more importantly, in my life. Watching, reading, and observing all that Shane McConkey was, allowed me to take on a new perspective I live with today. Never take anything too serious. Every day you wake up and are alive is a good day, no matter what you have to face, and from this, live every day to the fullest. I feel like in big part due to Shane I am 25 years old going on 13 and love it. Not to say I don’t take life seriously when needs be, but, if at all possible, let’s make life as fun as possible.
I still remember watching his part in the MSP film Yearbook for the first time and being blown away by the fantastic footage of him skiing and ski-basing. In a film with some of the best skiers of the time and current (Tanner Hall, Mark Abma, Rory Bushfield, Chris Davenport), Shane stood above them, in my opinion, simply because he was progressing skiing to a whole new level and uncharted areas, yet again. From that point on, I popped that movie in the VCR and fast-forwarded to Shane’s part every morning before skiing that season. Even to this day, on big powder days when I am riding Shane’s signature ski and brainchild, the K2 Pontoon (greatest pow ski ever made), I sometimes close my eyes for a second and pretend I am Shane carving down a huge face in Alaska.
Shane’s influence over skiing has been instilled in even the newer generation of skiers. I was waiting for some friends on the side of Red Dog leg at Palisades Tahoe over the holidays this past year and observed a kid no more than nine years old skiing with his father. They stopped near the top, and the kid said to the father, “Hey dad, I will go first and watch my McConkey turn.” That put a big smile on my face, knowing Shane’s Influence was present even in the newest generation of skiers.
Yet again, even with Shane passed on from this world, he continues to inspire and motivate skiing in a big way, and for that, I would like to say:
Ski in peace, my friend.