Living Life to the Fullest – The McConkey Legacy

When I think about home (Lake Tahoe), living life to the fullest and not taking life too seriously, there is no person that stands out in my mind more than Shane McConkey. And if you’ve ever heard of Shane, you can never listen to Juke Box Hero without thinking about an awesome day of skiing. I never met Shane McConkey, but like so many others his story and his life have had a profound impact on me.

I recently watched a small youtube video about the mission of the Shane McConkey Foundation (above). In it Shane’s wife says one very key line at the end:

“Carry on Shane’s legacy by not taking life too seriously, living life to the fullest & protecting this beautiful world.”

Steve Herr SkiingThere is more to share about Shane than I could ever fit in one blog post or one whole website. Shane defined a way of life. Some of you may not understand the culture I grew up in where skiing is not just a vacation activity, it is a part and a way of life. I’ll put it this way, not only did my parents meet working at Northstar in the 70’s and 80’s and I was skiing at Squaw by age 2, but when Reno was on fire and we were evacuated the one thing my fiancée (also from Tahoe) wanted to make sure we grabbed was our ski gear. Life in Tahoe has its own speed, its own dress code, its own intensity and serenity all at once. But the key in part boils down to what I wrote about this last week, and Shane’s #1 Rule:

Have fun and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself

Visitors to Lake Tahoe (aka gapers and flatlanders) constantly seem on a mission be like us or try to prove they are better. What they fail to realize is that competition here is not about saying, “Look how awesome I am, I just dominated you.” To be welcome here you cannot focus on being accepted or taking what you want, but instead you should enjoy and respect what is available to you. Using and conserving as opposed to abusing and discarding. Those of us in and from the culture are filling a need to push ourselves to the limit physically and mentally in hopes of getting to know ourselves just a little bit better. As Laurie Robinson says, “The desire for adrenaline and endorphins goes hand in hand with the need to have fun for these athletes.”

Source: AP Photo/Red Bull, Graeme Murray

The reason Shane was so widely loved and respected had nothing to do with the fact he was the greatest free-skier of our generation, though he was. It lay in his ability to always laugh and never take his fame or himself seriously. He was always laughing, while caring deeply for his family and friends. If you understand Shane, you will begin to understand a lifestyle. If you truly understand GNAR (Gaffney’s Numberical Assessment of Radness – Watch GNAR the Movie) you see that Squallywood (by Robb Gaffney M.D.) was Shane & the Gaffney’s poking fun at all the yahoos that took skiing so serious and thought they were so awesome. Whether you have never skiied, aren’t so great at skiing, or think that you’re awesome, who cares. I challenge you check your GNAR at the door and truly live Shane’s legacy:

“Carry on Shane’s legacy by not taking life too seriously, living life to the fullest & protecting this beautiful world.”

Thank you for reading my blog – Daniel S. Herr.
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If you want to find out a bit about Shane, I encourage you to watch these videos; though I warn you skiing is its own culture:

“You know, several years ago when people were fired up about what they did, they could show it. Give a fist pump or full hands raised; whatever. Look at team sports, they still go nuts. But somewhere along the way in all action sports, outside of competition, it was no longer cool to look stoked. Even if you just did the sickest thing in your life, you had to contain it and look all nonchalant. Because apparently doing that showed you were so good that you felt like, yeah, that’s pretty standard for me. Who came up with that one? … When I’m fired up to be in a certain place or I just pulled off something sick, I’m not gonna be afraid to show it. I’m gonna let people know it, I’m gonna claim.”

Source of some content & facts (Thanks Laurie!):