Friends Celebrate the Life of Shane McConkey

Friends Celebrate the Life of Shane McConkey

Shane McConkey’s memorial service was held yesterday afternoon at his home resort, Squaw Valley, California. Several of Shane’s close friends are sending us their thoughts on the service. We will continue to update this page as thoughts and stories come in.

Photo courtesy: Tony Hawk

Scott Gaffney:

While skiers everywhere are saying their goodbyes in different ways–hitting the mountain with their best Saucerboy getups or shredding hardpack on Spatulas just because– in Squaw Valley on Sunday the world officially bid farewell to perhaps the brightest beacon, talent, and most beloved freeskier in the history of the sport, Shane McConkey.

Roughly 1,500-2,000 came to pay their respects, among them a host of figures who have played a role in shaping the sport in the past two decades, from park legends to big mountain heroes to celebrated racers. Warmed by bright Californian sunshine and surrounded by massive banners and canvases bearing images of Shane skiing, BASE jumping, hanging with family and chest-thumping as Saucerboy, the crowd listened as Shane’s friends took the stage and recounted special memories of an incredible human being.

I had the fortune of being one of the speakers, and I was the fifth person to stand at the pulpit and claim Shane as my best friend. I think that is a testament to the kind of person he was. Talking about the loss of your best friend is no easy task, particularly when it still does not seem real. But it’s made slightly easier when the subject is a self-effacing dork who would be pissed and berate you as a wuss if you stood up there and sobbed.

So while there were moments of tears and I ended up hugging more dudes on Sunday than I’ve hugged in the span of my lifetime, the words on stage and in later conversation focused on Shane’s ebullient personality, which meant this ceremony was filled with far more laughter than your average memorial.

He may have changed our sport in countless ways from how we ski to what we ski on, but more importantly, he made it look like he had a hell of a lot of fun while he did it, and he inspired others to do the same. He wasn’t about what he looked like out there–he was all about what he felt like out there. And the guy people saw in movies was merely a fraction of what he was in real life.

So the mentions of Shane’s antics of incessant pranks, humping countless objects both inanimate and living for photos, and his affinity for flatulent humor managed to keep the tears at bay somewhat, although his father, Jim, let us not forget that this is a time that truly sucks. Somehow a guy with so much life has been ripped from us, and from this day forward there will be a void in our lives and in the ski world that simply cannot be filled.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, avalanche bombs echoed off the walls of the peaks surrounding Squaw, and the crowd mingled and then migrated to a reception highlighted by a slideshow that revealed an absolutely incredible life of action and brotherhood and family. This was followed by a video edit of Shane’s 15 years filming with MSP, and the crowd fired up in the celebration of Shane’s life as they raucously sang along with Pennywise’s Bro Hymn while Shane teed off on-screen.

Perhaps most fitting off all, though, were the huge illuminated letters adorning Squaw’s Tram Face, spelling out the words, “Thank you Shane.” What more can be said? We all owe him a hell of a lot.

Michelle Parker:

In celebration of Shane’s life, a gathering was held at the heart of Squaw Valley today. A lift line away from KT-22, in view of the tram face and headwall, stories and memories were shared. Very suiting for a man frequently spotted in these mountains and for someone who played such a role in our community. As J.T. Holmes put it, “He was the elder sibling of the Valley. He had the knowledge and the experience.” The flags waved at half mast and the tram was perched in view of the ceremony. With a crowd young and old, it was clear that he touched many lives and many walks of life. As his daughter, Ayla, danced beautifully near the podium, friends spoke about what Shane meant to them. Nearly every speaker claimed that Shane was their best friend. One of which also said he had a recent chat with Shane about death and Shane’s wish was that everyone celebrate and be happy. He wanted people to celebrate not only his life, but yours as well. He wants you to have fun, and that was evident at this gathering. Despite coming together during such a time, many laughs were had in his memory. Nearing the end of the gathering, after a moment in silence, Squaw Valley ski patrol let off a series of bombs, surely one of Shane’s favorite sounds waking up in Squaw on a powder day. Although Shane is physically not with us, he lives in each and every person who shares the passion for skiing, base jumping, humor, friends, and family. In the words of Trevor Peterson, “There comes a time when one must risk something or sit forever with one’s dreams.” — Michelle Parker

For more on Shane’s celebrated life, including his most memorable video parts, visit this story.

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