Helping the Community: Why I’m Auctioning Off My Pair of Shane McConkey Tribute Pontoons

SnowBrains | | Industry NewsIndustry News

Professional skier, marine biologist and musician Adam Ü is trying to be the change he wants to see in the world.

That’s why the Mt. Baker, Washington local is auctioning off his limited edition pair of K2 Shane McConkey Tribute Pontoons and splitting the proceeds with SkiDUCK and M4BL.

SkiDUCK is “an entirely volunteer-based, non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of disadvantaged and financially underprivileged youth by teaching and sharing the joys of skiing and snowboarding.” 

The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) seeks to reach millions, mobilize hundreds of thousands, and organize tens of thousands so that Black political power is a force able to influence national and local agendas in the direction of our shared Vision for Black Lives.

K2 Shane McConkey Tribute Skis. Photo courtesy newschoolers.com

The skis’ description, courtesy of Evo.com:

In memory of K2 legend Shane McConkey, the limited edition K2 Shane McConkey Tribute Skis are built on the K2 Pontoon chassis, one of the most profound innovations in ski design in decades. With its massive dimensions, surf-inspired rocker, and powder-specific sidecut that tapers toward the tail, the 2010 Shane McConkey Tribute Skis are an easy-to-ski powder weapon. An imposing tip width of 160mm combined with an equally impressive waist width of 130mm ensures the tip of the K2 Shane McConkey Tribute Skis will stay above surface at all times. And while technically a powder ski, the K2 Shane McConkey Tribute Skis deliver sidecut where you need it most—right underfoot—for maneuverability on firmer conditions or just to get back to the lifts for a second lap. Graphically inspired by Shane’s personality, ability and many contributions to our sport, the K2 Shane McConkey Tribute Skis are a must-have. Approximately 500 Pair of the unique, individually numbered, commemorative skis were produced.

Adam Ü. Photo courtesy Tess Golling.

Adam reached out to us about the auction, and his full letter is attached below.

Hi SnowBrains,

Clint Lunde of SkiDUCK asked what prompted me to auction off my pair of Shane McConkey tribute Pontoons and the answer is pretty simple. It’s a tiny first step towards my goals of being actively anti-racist, as well as fostering more diversity and inclusion in the outdoor community. 

The events following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others have brought race relations to the forefront and forced everyone to think about how race affects them. I’ve been reflecting on my experiences as a minority in the outdoor industry and in life in general. I’m ashamed that I haven’t stood up for others and myself when I’ve encountered racism and I’m embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to join the fight. I want to be a better ally.

The snowsports industry is one of the areas where I’ve seen the least amount of diversity and personally experienced the most racism. There’s no question that being able to partake in snowsports requires a certain level of privilege. Everything from the gear to the lift tickets to living close, or transportation to the mountains is a great luxury. As a professional skier, I’ve definitely experienced racism on the mountain and in the industry, ranging from a quick comment heard in the lift line or at après ski “what are those people doing here?” to “we’re going to go another direction” when it comes to media or partnership opportunities and then finding out that the direction ended up being totally white. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no expert on race-related activism so I’ve had to do a lot of catching up on the countless organizations that are out there. Luckily I’ve got friends that are far more on it than I am! One of them has been working toward racial justice — with a particular focus on advising donors — for over two decades. When she found out I had been thinking about donating to NAACP or ACLU, she suggested that the amount of money my auction was likely to generate would go a lot farther in a smaller, more grassroots organization. The bigger groups get far more money through corporate donors, I learned. For example, NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund has recently received nearly $270,000 (and counting) from The Daily Show and $100,000 from Patagonia. I decided I’d rather move money into organizations that are less likely to receive that level of corporate support.

I’ve learned about other grassroots organizations that focus on Black and minority rights including BYP100, Dignity and Power Now, Groundswell Fund, National Bail Out, and more. I’ve also learned about outdoor-oriented groups like the In Solidarity Project, Greening Youth Foundation, Diversity Outdoors, Soul Trak, and others. 

Of all the organizations my friends recommended to me, the work of the Movement for Black Lives felt like a good place to start because they take a collaborative approach that links many partners working towards multiple common goals. Their website states “The Movement for Black Lives is an ecosystem of individuals and organizations creating a shared vision and policy agenda to win rights, recognition, and resources for Black people. In doing so, the movement makes it possible for us, and therefore everyone, to live healthy and fruitful lives.” I’ve always liked being a part of something where the group is greater than the individual so their philosophy resonated with me. 

Meanwhile, I knew I wanted to support an organization that was specifically related to Shane’s memory since these were his tribute skis, so I asked his longtime friend and collaborator Scott Gaffney what he thought Shane might have liked. He suggested I look for a group that focuses on helping underprivileged kids and minorities experience the high alpine, and recommended I check in with Sherry McConkey.

Sherry recommended SkiDUCK, “an entirely volunteer based non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of disadvantaged and financially underprivileged youth by teaching and sharing the joys of skiing and snowboarding.” This seemed like a no-brainer/win-win. 

The systematic racism that the Black community has faced for hundreds of years is far more egregious than any racism I’ve dealt with; I’ve never felt in danger of being beaten or killed due to the color of my skin. It’s time for me to step out of my comfort zone and step up vocally and financially more than I have in the past. I’m giving more than I ever have before and I’m excited to transform my extra gear into something much more important. This idea came from professional skier Lucas Wachs, who auctioned off a pair of his skis for NAACP earlier in June. Since then I’ve seen a few more auctions and raffles like this. I think it’s a great way to bring awareness, and hopefully some money, to the cause. 

Adam told us in an email chain that he also has plans to do another auction for one of his Lib Tech/Lost surfboards along with some raffles for gloves/goggles/outerwear that he has stacked up in his gear room. He told us that he doesn’t need all this stuff he has saved up for a rainy day when “there are far more pressing needs right now.” Adam will ask his various sponsors if they’re interested in matching donations with proceeds going to organizations like SkiDuck and M4BL.

Here’s a little anecdotal info about SkiDUCK:

From their first day on the slopes over 10 years ago, SkiDUCK has always been focused on providing kids of all colors the opportunity to learn to ski or ride for free. Their home mountain is Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows (the same as Shane McConkey’s) and each season the resort graciously donates free lift tickets, rentals and lessons for all of SkiDUCK’s minority, financially disadvantaged and at-risk kids.
SkiDUCK hopes to help change the color of skiing and snowboarding, because the passion for the mountains and outdoors transcends all races and colors. They’ve helped thousands of black, brown, yellow and red kids learn to ski and ride, many of whom continue SkiDUCK’ing all the way through high school and will hopefully share their passion with their own kids and grandkids someday!
In these difficult and challenging times, it’s especially important to remember to keep our hearts and minds open to the struggles and exclusions our brothers and sisters of every color. And to find peace, harmony and solidarity in the outdoors… where we are all one.

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