Here comes the ‘Pain’: Shane McConkey tribute set for Saturday at Squaw

Kaleb M. Roedel
The sixth annual Pain McShlonkey Classic, an ode to the late legendary skier Shane McConkey, takes place Saturday at Squaw Valley. The all-day event includes snowblade competitions between professional and amateur winter athletes.
Courtesy Jason M. Abraham |

If you go

What: Pain McShlonkey Classic

Where: Squaw Valley

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, March 19

Online: Visit for full event details, registration information, or to make a donation to the Shane McConkey Foundation.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Smiles will flash and glisten like sun-splashed slopes.

Laughter will continually echo off the mountains.

Hugs will last a few beats longer.

On Saturday, the sixth annual Pain McShlonkey Classic returns to Squaw Valley.

“Shane was near and dear to our hearts. Whether you knew him personally or not, he inspired us all and changed many of our lives.”JT HolmesSquaw Valley professional skier and BASE jumper

Serving as a high-spirited and hilarious tribute to the late legendary skier Shane McConkey, the Pain McShlonkey Classic (PMS) is an off-the-wall event that includes multiple competitions between professional and amateur athletes, a costume contest and raffle, and a Speakeasy-themed gala.

“We do it to continue his legacy,” said Sherry McConkey, wife of the fallen Shane McConkey, a trailblazing freeskier and ski-BASE jumper who died nearly seven years ago at the age of 39.

Sherry McConkey runs the Shane McConkey Foundation, which hosts the event.

“Shane never took life too seriously and he had so much fun,” she continued. “He was super responsible and got his stuff done, but he was so large at life. He loved living life and he wanted everything to be fun, and he made it fun for everybody around him. This day is exactly that.”


Indeed, the event is defined by the gut-busting satirical nature Shane McConkey was known for.

Hence, for the on-hill competitions of Pain McShlonkey, participants are not strapped into snowboards or skis. Nope, these fully-costumed pros and average Joes will be rocking stubby snowblades, pint-sized skis McConkey famously would use with tongue buried in cheek.

In fact, the idea for PMS spawned from an informal late-night snowblade race McConkey and a group of X Games competitors held in 1998.

On Saturday, the PMS will kick off when 30 of the world’s top winter athletes take on 30 amateurs in the Hot Dog-style Downhill, with the winner taking home the coveted Pain McShlonkey Golden Saucer Trophy.

Amateurs earned their spot in the contest by completing Random Awesome Deeds and posting photos on the Shane McConkey Foundation Facebook page.

“It is a great way to start a long and memorable day,” said pro skier JT Holmes, a longtime friend of McConkey. “Shane was near and dear to our hearts. Whether you knew him personally or not, he inspired us all and changed many of our lives. This is our way of honoring him and supporting the foundation in his name.”

The snowblade antics will continue with the Backwards Snowblade Slalom, where contestants flaunt their flashiest snowblade skills for a cast of celebrity judges, including Olympian Julia Mancuso and Squaw Valley’s Michelle Parker.

“It’s just so fun to see how many people love it,” Sherry McConkey said of the snowblade contests. “They beg to come into the competition because it’s just so fun — and, really, they’re celebrating and honoring a hero.”


Following the on-mountain events, the PMS Costume Contest, which is open to everyone, will be held alongside a raffle on Squaw’s KT Base Bar Sun Deck. Highlighting the giveaways is a Surface 604 Electric Bike ($5,000 value) donated by New Belgium Brewing Company.

The event will be capped off with a 1920’s Speak-easy themed Shane McConkey Legacy Gala held at the Squaw Valley Conference Center.

The fundraiser includes drinks, appetizers, live music from country cover band Shotgun Wedding, and a live and silent auction with eye-popping items, such as five days of helicopter skiing in Valdez, Alaska.

Proceeds from the weekend will benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation, Sierra Avalanche Center, The Shane McConkey Eco-Challenge, Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s environmental education programs, and many more charities.

Over the last four years, the event has raised over $236,000 for local nonprofits.

“People are just so generous and lovely,” Sherry McConkey said. “It’s incredible; I’m so proud of the human race. This is an amazing way of honoring Shane. Thanks to him, a lot of people look at life in a different way, a different light.

“Seeing what the man has done for people is the biggest reward in the world.”

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