What do you get when you combine crazy costumes, an untouchable legend, and some really, really tiny skis? The Pain McSchlonkey Classic of course. This annual event gathers some of the best professional skiers and Squaw Valley local amateurs into one intense, wacky, and legendary downhill race… all for charity. The highlight of the day is when the best of the best professional skiers and 30 Squaw- local amateurs dress up in the craziest costumes possible and line up at the top of Squaw Valley’s legendary KT- 22 ski run to face off in a race to the bottom in an epic race titled “The Hot Dog Downhill”. There’s a catch though: they’re all riding on ‘snowblades’. These novelty skis measure about three feet long and six inches across, and are definitely not meant to be raced on. Full of epic crashes and some ridiculous shortcuts, the race is an homage to the ‘Chinese Downhill” race of the 1984 ski movie set in Squaw Valley titled “Hot Dog”.
The race is not all fun and games though. All of the money made from ticket sales and registration goes to the Shane McConkey Foundation, the namesake and inspiration for the race. The foundation was started after the tragic death of professional skier Shane McConkey in 2009 in a ski-BASE jump accident in the Italian Dolomites. McConkey, arguably the most famous skier to ever come out of Squaw Valley, was not only known for his world-class skiing, but also for his on- mountain antics. Prone to throwing gigantic backflips fully nude, putting on a costume and adopting his alter ego known as “Saucer Boy”, and hitting all of the hardest lines on the mountain while on the phone with his mom, Shane McConkey’s legend is still palpable in Squaw Valley. Now the foundation raises money for charitable causes in and around Truckee, California.
Homage to Shane
Squaw Valley local Ethan Faye was lucky enough to compete in the race this year. After submitting the most awkward photo of himself he had and answering some questions about how rad he can get on the mountain, he suited up in his best leather outfit and hit the slopes. For Faye and many locals, the race was more than just a fundraiser but also an homage to a ski hero; “Shane McConkey has been and will always be the standard to which I aspire. Not only in my skiing, but how I live my life. Not taking myself too seriously, making fun of people that do, and living every day to fullest is what Shane has taught me. The PMS embodies without a doubt all three of those lessons, as demonstrated clearly for anyone watching.”
The legend of Shane lives on through the athletes he has inspired and the benefits the race does for the community. And of course, all of it is done in his trademark goofball style. Faye got into the spirit of the race with a little bit of firepower: “The first rule is that there are no rules, so lighting off fireworks at the top is totally fine, even if I did accidentally start the race.” False starts aside, Shane would be proud.
by Jane Sadler