By Tess Weaver
Shane McConkey was remembered and celebrated Sunday in a day of extreme snowlerblading, outrageous costumes and general hilarity that only his home mountain of Squaw Valley could deliver.
Tahoe local Cody Townsend, who hopped a red-eye from Europe to make the event, took home the prestigious golden saucer, after straight-lining KT in flat light and gale-force winds on K2 Fatty snow blades to win the Chinese Downhill.
The Pain McShlonkey Classic happened to coincide with one of the biggest Tahoe storms on record, but aside from rescheduling the event from Saturday to Sunday, the 6-8 feet of snow and 100-plus mph winds only added to the event, increasing snowlerblading conditions to ridiculously entertaining.
Ski legend (and mother of two) Wendy Fischer went big in the Small Mountain Invitational that kicked off the day’s festivities, sending the Ice Goddess cliff in the Enchanted Forest wearing the brightest fuchsia known to man. Michelle Parker and Suzanne Graham took their run tandem, rounding out the women’s field in second and third, respectively.
Judges Pep Fujas, Travis Ganong and High Fives Foundation founder Roy Tuscany awarded first place on the men’s side to Jesse Hall for his superman front flip and double daffy in front of the finish coral. Cody Townsend kept it classy with a front flip, back flip, front flip to earn second, followed by Chris Benchetler, who threw a 360 off the Tombstone rock for third.
Dressed to kill, Tahoe local Robb Gaffney blew his horn, literally, atop each cliff. He tied for fourth with his brother, Scott. JT Holmes rocked the classic Squaw Valley vintage Olympic outfit, while a neon Kent Krietler summited (among other things) a tree mid-run.
The Chinese Downhill pitted 30 pros against 30 McConkey fans, who won entry via an online video contest. Adverse conditions included 107 mph winds at the start, total flat light, chopped windbuff and sinkholes and wind lips ready to take down even the most competent blader. Cody Townsend not only got to the bottom first, but ran uphill in snowlerblades fastest to snatch the coveted golden saucer. Right on his heels were Aaron McGovern in second and Rob Gaffney in third. Graham was first down for the ladies, followed by Stacia Federowski and Wendy Fischer.
Dating back to the 1998 Winter X Games, the Pain McSchlonkey is the brainchild of Shane McConkey and friends, who invented a Saucer Small Air, Switch GS and Chinese Downhill to entertain themselves in the evening.
This year’s event kicked off Thursday night with a gala and auction that raised more than $47,000 for the Shane McConkey Foundation, which was founded by Sherry McConkey to carry on Shane’s legacy through random acts of kindness, charitable giving and inspiration to make a difference in the world at large.
If Shane’s goal was to the fun back in skiing, the 2011 Pain McShlonkey Classic was an overwhelming success.