‘I wanted to be like Shane McConkey’ | SierraSun.com

‘I wanted to be like Shane McConkey’

Pain McShlonkey Classic raises 75K for Shane McConkey Foundation

The annual Pain McShlonkey Classic brought in more than $75,000 for the Shane McConkey Foundation.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — If the Tahoe community does one thing well, it’s showing out for a rowdy time in the name of a good cause.

To close out last month, hundreds of skiers and winter sports fans headed to Palisades Tahoe to spectate and compete in the annual Pain McShlonkey Classic and 3rd annual International Snowblade Day.

The event celebrates the life and spirit of legendary Tahoe figure Shane McConkey while raising funds for his foundation. McConkey passed away while skiing in 2009 in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. He had planned to ski off a cliff, and then transition into a wingsuit flight down to the valley 1,500 feet below. After executing a double backflip, he attempted to release his skis, but just one came off and in doing so, became entangled with the other attached ski. McConkey reached to remove the ski by hand, reportedly causing him to become inverted. He’d manage to pop the ski off and turn over, but by that time it was too late. He was 39 years old.

Since 2011, friends and family have gathered at Palisades Tahoe to honor and remember McConkey with the Pain McShlonkey Classic.

“The only reason I moved out here is because I wanted to be like Shane … it’s why I came here,” said Roy Tuscany, High Fives Foundation founder and CEO. “I wanted to be like Shane McConkey. It’s the simple truth.”

Dozens of skiers dressed in everything from dinosaur costumes to vintage ski gear packed the top of KT-22 on Saturday, March 25, for an all-out snowblade race, the Pain McShlonkey Classic Snowblade Hot Dog Downhill. The race saw plenty of spills and even a marriage proposal as skiers attempted to drop in from the top of KT-22. From there, particpants battled the terrain and each other to gain position for the final uphill stretch and a chance at the coveted first-place prize, the golden saucer.

“Shane always brought this charisma and fun, and it’s great we have something to celebrate when times are challenging and tough,” said Wendy Fisher, who became the first back-to-back winner of the golden saucer. “People have this to live for because it just brings life to being silly for the day. Whatever your sorrows are, just go have fun with a bunch of people.”

Fisher, who grew up with McConkey, now has three golden saucers to her name.

“We were on the Squaw Valley Ski Team together when I was 6 and we went to high school together, and then we were at (University of Colorado) together. Shane and grew up together, so (winning) means a lot,” she said.

“Every year I’ve won on the sprint to the finish. I’ve always had a girl in front of me at the end and I’ve always beat her out with my endurance and sprinting skills on snowblades.”

As the defending champion, Fisher put a target on her back by showing up dressed in a Ricky Bobby inspired NASCAR outfit.

“If you’re not first, you’re last,” she joked

Donny Pelletier, the alter ego of legendary freestyle skier Troy Murphy, took home first place in the men’s division.

Jen Winklepleck took first place for the most funds raised. In total, more than $75,000 was raised, according to Sherry McConkey, founder and director of the Shane McConkey Foundation.

During the event, Sherry McConkey also announced that $10,000 would be donated to the Scotty Lapp Foundation in order to help construct a memorial skate park in Tahoe City. Scotty Lapp was a sophomore at North Tahoe High School last winter when he was killed in a skiing accident. His family launched a foundation in his honor and plans on building a skate park in his honor. Tuscany announced that High Fives, which hosted the annual Mothership Classic the following day, would match the $10,000 donation.

In total, $53,000 will be donated to various charities throughout the region, including Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, Protect Our Winters, the Latinx scholarship program at the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, and support for the foundation’s EcoChallenge.

The Shane McConkey Foundation also recently teamed with J Skis to produce a big mountain, pro model ski blade.

“I have wanted to make Saucerboy snowblades for years and finely approached J Skis,” said Sherry McConkey. “Jason (Levinathal) went above and beyond to make this happen.”

The first 100 Saucerboy blades were shipped to Olympic Valley Ski & Bike and sold out in an hour, said Sherry McConkey. A second batch of 50 snowblades sold out online in less than a minute. Proceeds from the snowblades are being given back to the Shane McConkey Foundation.

Additionally, the Shane McConkey EcoChallenge is open until May 19 for students ages 18 and under. As part of the challenge, students create innovative projects that protect the environment and fight climate change. Projects are judged in various levels of competition. The winning teams are awarded a cash prize to donate to their school or nonprofit.  This year $29,500 in prize money is up for grabs.

Fundraising efforts continued Sunday, March 26, with the ninth annual Mothership Classic. The event, which challenges skiers and snowboarders to complete as many runs as they can on KT-22, brought in more than 200 participants and raised more than $161,000.

High Fives’ most recent grant cycle has provided more than $280,000 to 97 individuals that have suffered life-changing injuries.

For more information, or to donate to the Shane McConkey Foundation, visit http://www.shanemcconkey.org. To donate to the High Fives Foundation, visit http://www.highfivesfoundation.org.

Skiers make their way down the course on snowblades at the Pain McShlonkey Classic Snowblade Hot Dog Downhill.
Provided/Ryan Salm
Participants line up at the top of KT-22 for the start of the Pain McShlonkey Classic Snowblade Hot Dog Downhill.
Provided/Ryan Salm
Pain McShlonkey participants gather at the finish line following the Hot Dog Downhill.
Provided/Ryan Salm
Wendy Fisher holds up the golden saucer after defending her Pain McShlonkey championship.
Justin Scacco/Sierra Sun
Donny Pelletier, the alter ego of legendary freestyle skier Troy Murphy, shows off his golden saucer after winning the Pain McShlonkey Classic.
Justin Scacco/Sierra Sun

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