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The Annual Pain McShlonkey Classic Reminds Us Skiing is About Fun

It wasn’t necessarily cold outside, but the groomer down Palisades Tahoe’s Mountain Run was frozen solid on Saturday morning, March 26—a National Snowblade Day—when the starting shot of the Pain McShlonkey Hot Dog Downhill was fired. The sound of snowblade edges on ice was deafening. (I chose my shooting location making sure not to get trampled by the stampede.)

At the starting line, the best of the best lined up, all dressed in costumes to remind us just how silly and ridiculous skiing really is. Household names in the ski world intermingled with local legends and no names all wondering who would be crowned the 2022 PMS Champion. The Pain McShlonkey Hot Dog Downhill, or The PMS as it’s affectionately known, is a day of camaraderie and philanthropy in celebration of legendary skier Shane McConkey and his foundation’s mission “to carry on this legacy through random acts of kindness and charitable giving and to inspire others to make a difference in the world at large.”  This year, $25,000 was raised for the Shane McConkey Foundation which funds endeavors like The Shane McConkey EcoChallenge. Teams of kids identify and help resolve an eco issue in their school or community. The winning teams are awarded a cash prize to donate to their school or nonprofit.

Back on Mountain Run, the front runners crested the horizon line while an unfortunate few went down hard in the melee, leaving bruised body parts and even a few drops of blood behind. It was Wendy Fisher and Davis Souza that took home the coveted Golden Saucers. As National Snowblade Day continued, packs of skiers took control of the hill. From every lift, blader posses could be seen mobbing slope sides, sliding down chutes, etching out wiggles, and throwing laid out Daffy’s off cat-tracks. 

Under the California springtime sunshine, the event concluded on the KT Sundeck. Among heartfelt words from Sherry and her daughter, Ayla McConkey, was a hilariously awards ceremony MC’d by Mike Powell.

Shane believed in having the most fun, never taking yourself too seriously, and finding freedom in skiing.

“I preached long and hard to everyone that this new movement in skiing we were all part of should be called freeskiing and not extreme skiing,” Shane is known for saying. “Extreme skiing is a specific type of skiing and only one part of what we were doing. The term was not accurate. What we were doing was free-form skiing, free of rules and most any kind of boundaries. Whether it was steep, extreme descents, or new freestyle, what we were doing was freeskiing: Free to ski our own style on our own terms.”

The PMS is a reminder to us all: Ski your own style on your own terms.