If you grew up skiing, you grew up watching the antics and borderline insanity of Shane McConkey. McConkey had a cult-like following in the skiing world; idolized for his “no fear” attitude, incredible sense of humor and zealous approach to life.
A Matchstick Productions (MSP) and Red Bull Media House collaboration, “McConkey” brings back all of the most memorable scenes from my childhood along with new, never-before-seen footage. The documentary features film MSP garnered from movies McConkey starred in over the course of 17 years, showcasing his audacious stunts in locations around the world. To lead us through McConkey’s life, heartfelt commentary is offered by his parents Jim and Glenn, his wife Sherry and close friends. The remainder of the footage comes from McConkey’s own private recordings, portraying both the adventures and struggles of his everyday life.
In “McConkey,” we watch McConkey progress as a skier: from airing enthusiastic spread-eagles in his elementary school days to competing in races and, finally, to jumping off the edge of inconceivably-high rock faces, detaching his skis and parachuting to the ground with a grin across his face. On one fateful jump, however, his luck ran out.
McConkey was an entertainer and a dedicated and talented athlete but, most of all, he was a man who followed his passion no matter the cost. He died doing what he loved, and although his friends and family mourn his loss, they all seem to accept his passing — Shane McConkey couldn’t have died any other way. He was never going to stop skiing, never going to stop pushing the limits. No matter what he was doing, McConkey was making the most of every moment.
As Freeskier editor Henrik Lampert aptly put it, “‘McConkey’ isn’t so much a film about Shane McConkey, as it is a film about a guy named Shane McConkey who’s trying to find himself.”
In one particularly inspiring scene, McConkey reads a bucket list he wrote in elementary school for class — a list of what he would do if he found out he only had a few more months to live. As he reads, images of him doing every single item on the list flash across the screen.
The 109 minutes of “McConkey” will take you on an emotional roller coaster. You’ll laugh at McConkey’s infamous antics as the whiskey-chugging, snowblading “Saucer Boy” and gasp as he makes a constant mockery of the law of gravity: You’ll feel flashes of adrenaline, grief and it may even bringing you to tears.
“McConkey” is much more than a ski movie: It’s a documentary celebrating what it means to be a skier and, moreover, the importance of following your dreams — no matter how wild they may be. McConkey’s legacy is eternal; his dedication, humor and zest for life will inspire skiers and non-skiers alike for years to come. After the film is over, you’ll want to go tear up the mountain, go travel, go skydiving — go out and live life on the edge and make a conscious effort to make the most of each day.
The film will show twice on Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Emerson Cultural Center at 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. A limited number of presale tickets are available at PhD Skis and Cactus Records for $15. Tickets are also available at the door, but a sold-out show is anticipated. Red Bull Media House is hosting an official after-party at the Bacchus Pub downtown, featuring a costume contest and Red Bull drink specials — movie-goers are encouraged to wear their best Saucer Boy costume to celebrate McConkey and win prizes.