McConkey: You only have one life. Live it!
Ski+board Deputy Editor Rosie Barcroft was lucky enough to attend the UK premiere of ‘McConkey’ – a feature-length documentary about the incomparable Shane McConkey.
You know a documentary’s good when you find yourself laughing, crying and cheering throughout. Well, I certainly did all of that during the film based on the life of freestyle skier Shane McConkey. Simply called McConkey, the movie features family videos, a selection of his many and incredible freestyle stunts, and memories from some of his closest friends and family.
Shane was born in December, 1969 in Vancouver, British Columbia. After his parents divorced, he went to live in Squaw Valley to train as a competitive ski racer. Although he won numerous competitions he was dropped from the team. After trying his luck in College for a while and hating it (he just wanted to ski), McConkey saw the ‘Blizzard of AAHHHs’, an early extreme skiing movie starring Glen Plake, Mike Hattrup and Scot Schmidt. It changed his life. And before the world knew it, Shane McConkey was making a name for himself.
Shane combined his love of base jumping and skiing to go where no one else had dared. Where others saw frightfully large drops, McConkey saw incredible jumps.
His latest stunt before he died was taken from the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977. In the opening sequence, Rick Sylvester (as James Bond) skis off El Capitan (a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park), unclips his skis in the air and deploys a parachute to escape the Russians chasing him. It’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it!
McConkey had to give this a go. And he did, many times. But in March 2009, his luck ran out. While skiing in the Dolomites, Italy and performing the stunt, he struggled to release his skis. By the time he managed to remove them it was too late to deploy his parachute, and he died on the scene.
Not only did he inspire many people to take up skiing and try new things. McConkey was a pioneer of the first ‘fat’ and ‘rocker’ ski, (based on water skis) and showed people that you don’t have to be cool to be respected.
The main message, however, you take from the documentary is: You have one life. Live it. And that was what made everyone clap (whistle, shout and grin inanely) at the end – each of us had been injected with this message, which will hopefully remain with us forever more.
McConkey is available to buy for ￡9.99 from iTunes or you can rent it for £4.49.
All proceeds from the film will go to the Shane McConkey trust. For more information visit: shanemcconkey.org