WHO: Kevin O’Hara
WHAT: Pain McShlonkey Snowlerblade Chinese Downhill
WHERE: Squaw Valley USA
WHEN: March 27, 2011
Lately I’ve found myself yelling loudly in lift lines, jumping off of things more frequently, and generally acting like an idiot. Why? My demeanor has become more immature because I was chosen to compete in the most ridiculous race known to man: The Pain McShlonkey Classic. This event was devised as a tribute to the late Shane McConkey, and requires participants to bring their best GNAR faces. If you haven’t seen the movie or aren’t otherwise familiar with the game of GNAR, the general idea of the game is to be the most hardcore, badass skier that you can possibly be, while making fun of yourself, and poking fun at ski culture in general. Dressing up is encouraged, smack talking is expected, and having fun is the whole point.
About three weeks ago I received an email blast from event organizer Scott Gaffney (brother to the author of Squallywood), informing all pros and amateurs that we were chosen to compete. Everyone’s email address was CC’d on the email for all recipients to see. The list included names like Daron Rahlves, Jeremy Jones, Chris Benchetler, Colby West, J.T. Holmes, Cody Townsend, Elyse Saugstad, Kent Kreitler, Aaron McGovern, the Gaffney brothers. Immediately, the smack-talking began, with comments about crushed egos, other competitors moms, how poorly women ski, how poorly men ski, body part references, and a plethora of other obscenities. And it did not stop until after the competition went off! I can count 172 emails. All smack talk. All of them.
The competition itself was nothing less than a freak show, and I loved every minute of it. We began with a costume contest of hysterical proportions. This was followed by a little briefing by Scott, and then it was all hands to the KT lift! Imagine 30 pro skiers and big names, along with 30 amateurs all dressed in their most outrageous, and all waddling on snowlerblades through the KT22 line. Pushing, shoving, arguing, falling all over the place, accumulating GNAR points. After we barely made it onto the lift, the scene at the top was no less humorous. It resembled a medieval battle zone, just before the war began. Except there was less discipline and more liquor. We stood around awhile in the 60 mph winds, sipping our obligatory Red Bull, making obscene comments about each other, and touting our own masterful snowlerblading abilities. Then came the start, and well, you can watch the video for yourself. I biffed about 6 times, and put my knee into my mouth when I landed in a giant hole at the bottom of the Women’s Downhill run. Either way, I came in about 20th out of 60, I beat Daron Rahlves (check out his video of the downhill) to the bottom, and had an amazing weekend altogether. I would not have missed being a part of this!
Pain McShlonkey Chinese Downhill Results
MEN – 1) Cody Townsend 2) Aaron McGovern 3) Robb Gaffney
WOMEN – 1) Suz Graham 2) Stacia Federowski 3) Wendy Fisher
Pain McShlonkey Small Mountain Invitational Results
MEN – 1) Jesse Hall 2) Cody Townsend 3) Chris Benchetler
WOMEN – 1) Wendy Fisher 2) Michelle Parker 3) Suz Graham
Most importantly, this event brought together a group of Shane’s friends and fans, who connect through their love of skiing. Being that all of us are quick to make fun of ourselves was also an important factor. The whole point was to remember the amazing attitude and lust for life that Shane McConkey embraced. His spirit and influence live on in all of us. The event was organized by Scott Gaffney, and Shane’s widow, Sherry, all for the purpose of spreading the word about the Shane McConkey Foundation. I feel all was accomplished in a way I never could have imagined.
I leave you with a quote that continues to inspire me, and so many others:
“Now ski down there and jump off of something for crying out loud” -Shane McConkey
The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, ski, surf, climb, bike or snowlerblade, Pain Mcshlonkey style) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.
I’m Tahoe Mountain Sports’ web editor and a 6-year Tahoe resident. Yep, I live the life, with a lake view from my desk, lunch breaks on the beach with my dog, and morning powder runs when the snow’s good. I ski, snowboard, skate ski, and cross-country ski in winter, and hike, mountain bike, backpack, and lay around on Tahoe’s beaches in summer.