Shane McConkey Remembered

REMEMBERING SHANE McCONKEY
Fellow Pros On What Shane Meant to Them

Compiled by: Scott Gaffney

“Shane showed us that there are few limits to what you can imagine and do on skis. And he always did it with a smirk, reminding us with his humor that, above all, skiing is fun and should never be taken too seriously.”—Scott Markewitz

“I only had a chance to work with Shane a few times over the years, but I will always remember our last trip to Haines with MSP. He was coming off a couple of years of injuries and he was fired up to ski and make a great segment. He was charging, stomping big airs and skiing incredibly well the entire trip in variable snow. What stands out for me was his last line of the trip. He picked a long, technical line with a series of drops and chokes that had to be skied precisely and fast to avoid being taken out by slough. He skied it perfectly until he hit a chunk of ice hidden under the snow that threw him into a cartwheel where he blew out his hip. It was a nasty injury, but I will always remember how beautifully he skied that line.” —Scott Markewitz

“With Shane there was always the sense that the clown was ready to pop out at any moment, and it always did at some point on a trip. He rarely posed for the camera with a straight face and was always cracking jokes and seemed to be conjuring up pranks on a daily basis.” —Scott Markewitz

“All I’d ever skied were wide-open fast runs.That changed in 2000 when I was home for a week off the World Cup. It was a sick pow day and I hooked up with Shane and Jonny Moseley.Shane took us all over Squaw skiing lines I never knew were there.That day the mountain got a lot bigger and I learned what ‘billy goating’ was.”—Daron Rahlves [Ed’s note: Daron went on to win back-to-back downhills in Kvitfjell, Norway, and credited this day for putting him in the right mindset.]

“Anytime I watch one of his MSP segments I bust out laughing and think of throwing a lawn dart front flip…next year.”—Daron Rahlves

“The f—er beat me in the McShlonkey fruit boot DH.He cheated though. Lining us up for an all-out Chinese downhill from High Camp to Dave’s Deli, he was 50 feet down the hill explaining that there were no rules and started the count down. He turned and skated off at five. I still can’t figure out how he kept his legs calm and went so fast on those little ass skis.”—Daron Rahlves

“Rocker has led to the biggest design advancement I have ever felt in snowboarding and there is no way I would have made that step without Shane.”—Jeremy Jones

“Having a groundbreaking idea is one thing but getting a company to invest large sums of money into unproven technology that goes against 100 years of technology is his biggest accomplishment.” —Jeremy Jones

“I knew Shane as a world-class husband and father first.He was always there for my kids while I was away.It was really natural for him to hang out with kids and they all took to him.My daughter is a tough nut to crack but Shane had a way with her that made Shane one of her favorite people.‘Shane’ was one of her first names spoken.” —Jeremy Jones

“There is a lot I would like to thank Shane for.Thank you for going out of the way to be friends with my kids. Thank you for all the times I was away and you stood in as a part-time dad to my kids.Thank you for developing rocker, which led to the biggest design advancement I have ever felt on a snowboard. Thank you for showing us that the impossible was possible, and doing it with humility.Thank you for never taking life too seriously and always going out of your way to make us laugh.” —Jeremy Jones




“Shane opened my eyes to endless possibilities of the power sliding surf turn—the ‘McConkey Turn’ made possible by ‘spatulated’ skis. Shanechanged the way I ski powder and hisinfluences greatly affected my ski design.”—Eric Hjorleifson

“Shane’s legacy: he actually changed the way people ski powder. “—Eric Hjorleifson

“Shane reminded me of an 18-year-old, maybe younger, with how much passion he possessed and his over-the-top humor.”—Michelle Parker

“I literally used to follow him around, as long as I could keep up, at Squaw. The only movies I rented when I was younger were made by MSP. Shane was a staple athlete in those movies and watching him ski live on top of that was like seeing Superman. He also taught me that it’s OK to punch guys in the balls, and even encouraged me to do it.” —Michelle Parker

“He was the guy I looked up to, the guy you would want to sit next to at dinner or be in the same car with.”—Michelle Parker

“He made me want to ski hard for a lot longer than I imagined before. He made me realize that you can still have a full blown ski career at his age without people thinking you’re just holding on as long as possible. After all those years, he was still happy to ski, film, and work hard. The days I got to ski with Shane were the best of my season by far. I think it says a lot when you enjoy the people you are with on the mountain while filming.”—Michelle Parker


“Shane influenced me by showing me the most successful I can be is by being completely myself. He was always himself; doing naked spread eagles off of cliffs, shredding hard, and always goofing around. People loved him for being him and his person is why he was a great success.”—C.R. Johnson

“We can honor his legacy by living life to the fullest while pursuing what we love.”—C.R. Johnson

“My favorite moment of Shane’s career was the many moments of skiing he did in the film, ‘1999.’ The skiing he did on Donner Summit was incredible and I still look at some of the lines he hit every single time I drive up there.”—C.R. Johnson

“There are so many moments when Shane was being a clown. Everybody who knew him has a great story because it was so common to see him act like that. My favorite memory of Shane and the person he was is of him and Sherry being married on the beach in Thailand. The words he spoke to her and the way he expressed himself exposed who he really is and what he really feels. To see a serious and loving aspect of Shane will always stand out to me.”—C.R. Johnson

“I feel like Shane was instrumental in turning skiing from ‘extreme’ skiing—all serious and macho—to freeskiing—fun and free and about doing whatever lets you have fun and makes you stoked. He was at the forefront of some very pivotal moments in bringing skiing to where it is, smiling and joking the whole way while simultaneously taking the piss out of mogul contests, helping start the IFSA, bringing silliness and oozing style in film segments, revolutionizing the very tools we ski on and ski BASE.” –Ingrid Backstrom

“He meant everything to skiing as we know it today.” –Ingrid Backstrom

Shane McConkey Remembered

“I looked up to Shane more than anyone. He was like the older brother who was way better at everything than you will ever be, but was always really nice about helping you try to get there.”–Ingrid Backstrom

“Shane led by example. He was never preachy about how you should do something; he just went out there and did it 100 percent. I have learned many things from Shane but the main way that he influenced me is that he never accepted the status quo. He always rose above it.”–Ingrid Backstrom

“To him there was never any reason to even think about being bored, that never even entered his brain. You’re bored? Well, invent some funny and entertaining game! Awkward pause in a conversation? Say something ridiculous to make it even more awkward and, thus, funny again.” –Ingrid Backstrom

“When he slid down the Harrisson Motel on waterskis, in the movie Focused, sums up how amazingly talented he was athletically—one of the best athletes ever—and also how cheeky and irreverent and fun-seeking he was.” –Ingrid Backstrom

“During a down day in Bella Coola, he decided to take it upon himself to get a raft and lifejackets from the people who owned the hotel we were staying, call the local fish hatchery and ask if by any chance they had some survival suits we could borrow, please? And organize a floatilla down the nearby river consisting of several people in the raft and two people floating along in the survival suits, complete with scuba masks and snorkels. Along the way he would climb clumsily up onto anything he could find and jump back in the river with the suit on.”–Ingrid Backstrom

Shane McConkey Remembered

“In Haines he walked into Mile 33 and asked the locals who was the best snowmobiler in town. They gave him a name, and he got the phone book and called this guy up, introduced himself, said we were making a ski movie and offered the guy $100 to pull him across the river behind his snowmobile with his skis on. The guy was a bit wary but agreed, and they did a few practice runs and of course nailed it on the first try. Of course Shane convinced me that it was no problem. We did a practice run and then upon hitting the water I immediately dry-docked on some rocks and tomahawked head over heels through the river and over the rocks. I have seen that guy and his sons at Mile 33 every time I’ve been back to Haines and he always looks at me like I’m crazy!”–Ingrid Backstrom

“Shane made it cool to be a skier. Universally, those who saw Shane’s actions realized he was doing something unique that transcended all prior notions of skiing. Since we are skiers and Shane was a skier, that made us all more respected and rad.”—Jonny Moseley

“Shane’s dedication, creativity, and success made me work harder. He was more than just a gifted athlete, he was smart and I admire the way he handled his career.”—Jonny Moseley

“When I ski a line at Squaw I always have to look at it and think about the most challenging way to ski it. It’s a pain in the ass, but that is one of Shane’s legacies.”—Jonny Moseley

“Shane also brought irreverent sarcasm into the industry. That humor is a staple of ads and movies today.”—Jonny Moseley

“I was incredibly impressed when he competed in the 1999 Summer X Games in the big air contest with a switch back flip and a switch back full. It was the beginning of the ‘new school’ big air stuff and Shane was 5-10 years older than the other guys. He was such an incredible talent that he was able to do anything on skis.”—Jonny Moseley

Shane McConkey Remembered

“I first met Shane in a Squaw gondola. I had not done much in the ski world but he was the man. He had long hair in a ponytail and Oakley blades on. A few years later I went on a Matchstick trip in Canada with Shane, Davenport and Morrison. In one particular scene Shane skied a 13-stager where he lost his ski on one of the 20-foot cliffs in the middle of this exposed line. He snapped it back on and shredded the rest. It was at this point that I reconsidered my thoughts of getting into the business where Shane had made his name.”—Jonny Moseley

“If I was marooned on a deserted island and could choose one person to share the experience with, outside of family, I would choose Shane.”—Chris Davenport

“I was proud to call Shane a close friend and even prouder of the fact the he called me one. When I was with Shane, both on the hill and off, I was inspired to be the best I could be, as a skier and as a person.”—Chris Davenport

“Shane’s legacy shall be known as the man who put the fun back in skiing. Shane did things on skis that made people say, ‘Holy shit, I didn’t know that was possible,’ and he did it all with a huge grin, making fun of anyone that took skiing, and anything in life for that matter, too seriously. Having fun and playing was as important to Shane as anything, and he stayed young at heart because of it.”—Chris Davenport

“I was there in Valdez, when we shot the first-ever scenes of what would become the Saucer Boy character. At the time it seemed such a trivial idea, even if it was funny as shit. But in the end, a decade or more later, that character that was born in a fleabag motel room in Valdez became endeared in thousands of skiers hearts around the world.”—Chris Davenport

“I was privileged to have been an early camper in one of Shane’s notorious ‘Plunge To Your Death’ camps. JT Holmes, Othar Lawrence and I got tossed off the Perrin bridge in Idaho together under Shane’s less than strict supervision, safely making our first BASE jumps while Shane laughed wildly above. Shane is the only person in the world that I would have trusted my life with in that situation… well maybe my brother, Miles, too. I was scared and had no experience under a parachute, but Shane had a way of making it seem like a really good idea.”—Chris Davenport

“Shane and I were competing as a team in the 2005 Red Bull Hike and Ride video contest in Switzerland. We basically laughed our way across the Alps for a week while we brainstormed the concept for what would become ‘D.E.A.T.H,’ the winning film of the contest and one of the most fun times of my life.”—Chris Davenport

“Shane’s influence had me skiing on fat skis and doing flips off cliffs. That time was a transitional point for skiing. Extreme comps went on tour, terrain parks were becoming a standard at resorts, park events, new ski magazines like Freeze and Rage.Skiing’s biggest explosion since Blizzard of Ahhs. He helped show people the way.” —Seth Morrison

“Whenever I hung out with Shane I found myself acting a little more immature than normal and I always seemed to be having more fun than normal.” —Mike Douglas

“Shane also inspired me to think sideways. When we’d get together we were always dreaming up crazy new ski gadgets and gizmos. His greatest influence, however, had to be proving to me that wiping your ass more than five times per dump was a practice that only ended with a permanently clogged toilet—something I refused to subscribe to.”—Mike Douglas

“Shane was one of the greatest skiers to have ever lived. He’s in a group that to me includes fewer than 10 people.”—Mike Douglas

“Rooming with Shane was always a hilarious experience. Every morning he’d be the first up and wake me up with ‘Wakey Wakey, hands off snakey!’ Then he’d proceed to poison the room with his farts, then he would clog the toilet with a massive coiler (that he’d be really proud of) followed by half a roll of toilet paper, then he would show off all the most disgusting things he could find on the Internet. If we were lucky, we’d go skiing or something. If we weren’t, the process would just repeat all day long.”—Mike Douglas