Today was the much-anticipated return of the Pain McShlonkey Classic at Squaw Valley to honor the legendary skier, Shane McConkey. Despite some nasty wind and snowfall, both pros and amateurs alike battled it out for the coveted Golden Saucer and bragging rights. These brave athletes suited up in their best neon one-pieces and traded in their skis for K2 Fatty snow blades. The event was a well-organized junk show, and everyone seemed to have a blast.
This event has grown from a behind the scenes at Winter X Games in 1988 by Shane McConkey and friends, and included a Switch GS, Chinese Downhill and a Saucer Small Air. In 2003, it became a much-loved event attracting athletes from around the world. Today, it came back as an Extreme Snowlerblading Small Mountain Invitational where 30 pros like Daron Rahlves, JT Holmes, Cody Townsend, Scott and Robb Gaffney among others make their way down the Enchanted Forest off KT. Later on, those 30 pros battled it out in a no holds bard Chinese Downhill race against 30 of McConkey’s biggest fans who were chosen through an online video contest. Professional skier Pep Fujas, World Cup Racer Travis Ganong and High Fives Foundation founder Roy Tuscany judged the event.
Up first was the Small Mountain Invitational. The snow-bladders checked out their lines, and then sent it one by one. There was no holding back. These guys and girls hucked themselves off cliffs, wind lips, and just about anywhere they could catch air. In the end, it was Jesse Hall who came out on top. He started things off with a huge superman front flip, and ended things with a double daffy off the wind lip. His old school moves, diversity and ability to get down to the bottom was what put him on top. In second, it was Cody Townsend, who was dressed as Ron Burgundy, and third was Chris Benchetler throwing a 360 off the tombstone. Tying for fourth were brothers, Scott and Robb Gaffney.
Matt Jackson, Greg Lindsey and Chris Benchetler checking out their lines for the SMI
SMI champion, Jesse Hall, killing it with a double daffy
On top for the ladies was professional big mountain skier, Wendy Fischer. She went the biggest and was able to stay on her feet the majority of her run. In second was Michelle Parker with a front flip off the wind lip, and third was Suz Graham with a backflip on the same spot. These two decided to take their run together, holding hands going off a cliff. The antics were hilarious and everyone sent it as hard as possible despite being on snowblades.
Wendy Fisher showing off her lovel y neon pink one piece
After the SMI was the costume contest. This was a hilarious runway style fashion show, giving each person an opportunity to showcase his or her outfit. There were tons of Saucer Boys, old school ski gear and random getups. In the end it was the C. Men Man who came out on top winning a $500 to Bobo’s Mogul Mouse in Reno.
Costume contest winner and runners up
At the very end of the day, just as the snow began to fall and the wind was blowing harder than ever, it was time for the Chinese Downhill. The 60 competitors dawning their costumes and snowblades made their way to the top of KT. The race began at the top of Women’s Downhill and down skiers left of Exhibition. At the bottom, the athletes had to make their way around Exhibition lift and run back up hill, with the snowblades still on, into the finish corral to grab the Golden Saucer. In order to keep it somewhat controlled, the competitors had to open a Red Bull open at the top before the race and still be able to poor some in their mouth at the finish line in order to win.
Competitors about to race the Chi nese Downhill
At the sound of the horn, all 60 skiers raced down the chopped up powder. It was absolute pandemonium. There were three skiers far out in front, including Bonzai Champion, Daron Rahlves, until they hit a wind lip that they couldn’t see due to the flat light. This gave Cody Townsend the opportunity to get out in front. At the very end, it became a sprint to the finish. Cody came out on top, with Aaron McGovern in second and Rob Gaffney in third. Taking home the female Golden prize was resident badass, base jumper, big mountain skier, Suz Graham. Claiming her second prize for the day. Stacia Federowski came in second, and Wendy Fisher, aka “Wonder Wendy” took third.
Cody Townsend with the coveted Golden Saucer Trophy!
Somewhere up there, Shane is smiling and saying, “I’m still better than you!” Everyone involved in this event embodied the spirit of Shane and as Sherri McConkey put it, “He would be so proud.” I look forward to next year’s Pain McShlonkey Classic.
Here's to you Shane!
To learn more about the Shane McConkey Foundation go to https://www.shanemcconkey.org/foundation