You’ve probably walked by it dozens of times, but have you ever gone inside Colorado’s Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame? Next time you’re in Vail remember to check this museum located in the Vail Village Parking Structure. Here you will find everything related to skiing and riding in Colorado, from the first documented use of skis in the region during the winter of 1859-60 by miners near Breckenridge, to last year’s induction of Jake Burton, founder of Burton Snowboards, into the Hall of Fame.Established in 1976, admission to the museum is free, and it's open daily. Its mission is “to preserve and appreciate the legacy of skiing and snowboarding in Colorado." This not-for-profit organization now has an exhibition that includes over 1,500 photographs, artifacts, pieces of equipment, and articles of clothing that span more than 130 years of skiing and riding in the Centennial State. Permanent exhibitions include a timeline of Colorado skiing, Olympic, World Cup and 10th Mountain Division memorabilia, a history on the evolution of snowboarding, and the “Spirit of America’s Champions”. Many members of the Hall of Fame are athletes, such as Billy Kidd, the first American male alpine racer to win an Olympic medal (silver 1964), yet there are many others who are members because they also helped “Colorado make great advances in the sport of skiing." Such as Vail founders Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton, or legendary film maker Warren Miller.
2010 nominees included global celebrities, such as singer/songwriter John Denver, Burton founder
Jake Burton, as well as local icons, such as James Pascoe, who was head of Mountain Op’s at Vail Resorts and designed the now legendary Birds of Prey Downhill course in Beaver Creek. However there is one person who is not on the Hall of Fame, and who clearly deserves the honor: Shane McConkey.
If you've ridden a pair skis in the past 20 years, you’ve noticed how much skis have changed. So even if you might not know know who Saucer Boy was, you still traded in skinny for “parabolic” skis in the 90’s after skiers like McConkey made them popular. And today we ride reverse camber skis because he developed them.
Born in 1969 in Vancouver, McConkey forever changed the way the world skis. Besides many accomplishments, his legacy includes developing reverse camber skis, and founding the International Freeskiers Association, now the governing body for big mountain freeskiing competitions. He was also instrumental in lifting the ban on “inverted aerials” in ski areas—Vail included.
The now legendary story goes like this: In the early 90’s, while competing in the now extinct Pro Mogul Tour, McConkey had received several warnings by Vail’s Ski Patrol after throwing backflips in his training sessions (banned at the time by ski areas and the FIS). During his qualifying run, again, he threw a massive backflip. Ski Patrol had no choice but to enforce the ban on such tricks and asked him to leave. Instead of leaving he hiked back up to the mogul course, proceeded to take off all his clothes, and skied down naked, while doing a “spread eagle” on each jump. This got him permanently banned from Vail. McConkey died on 2009 in Italy, after performing a double backflip while ski-base jumping in the Dolomites (another sport he pioneered). K2, his sponsor, created a special edition Pontoon to honor him, with profits from the sale of these skis going to his family.
Two years after his death the time has come to give him a spot on Colorado’s Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. If you would like to see him nominated stop by the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame (ideally dressed as Saucer Boy), learn about the history of the sport, and very politely ask that he be nominated. You can also write them an email at: email@example.com. Or you can join the Facebook group: “Nominate Shane McConkey to Colorado's Ski Hall of Fame” to sign the online petition.