A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to see the movie "McConkey," a film about Shane McConkey one of the best skiers ever. Shane led the path for freeskiing and ski-BASE jumping, he had a sparkling sense of humour and inspired countless lives.
As you may have read in my previous blogs, I am always searching for new ways to live my best life after 40. Finding that place of newness and adventure, where I am continually looking around the corner to see how I can learn more and explore different parts of the world. It is too easy after 40 to fall into a sedated state and stop trying new things.
I honestly, did not know too much about Shane McConkey before I saw the film but I had heard that Shane had been one of the preeminent freeskiers. That really intrigued me.
Before finding my seat in the theatre I spoke with Shane's wife, Sherry McConkey. A mom to a seven-year-old daughter and outdoor enthusiast herself, Sherry reveals her thoughts on the film that documents her late husband's life: "It is not a ski movie but a message that people can live the life they want to live," Sherry continues, "People walk away so inspired by him, he was an amazing man."
Sherry who lives in Squaw Valley, California with her daughter has also started The Shane McConkey Foundation which supports environmental awareness in schools.
When I entered the theatre, a hushed tone took over the audience. The film reveals the story behind Shane McConkey's death. On March 26, 2009, Shane McConkey died while skiing in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. After performing a double back flip, McConkey intended to glide away in his wingsuit, a stunt he's executed a number of times.
The film is nothing short of jaw dropping. Shane skied down mountains that left my hands sweaty and my heart beating with anxiety. I believe we all have our own path and be the pioneers of our own lives, Shane was a living tribute to that.
You do not need to ski black diamond runs to be your own pioneer. Putting on a pair of skis for the first time and taking the tow rope, is a huge accomplishment. I regularly ski green runs and this is a good place for me.
Another leader in the outdoors I admire and believe to be one of the best photographers of our time is Jimmy Chin. He has documented some of the best climbers in the world.
"Skiing and climbing have given me some of the greatest joys in my life and they are incredible ways to have fun and connect with your friends, family and spouses" says Jimmy. I asked Jimmy his suggestions for anyone wanting to try winter sports for the first time.
Jimmy's tips for trying winter sports:
What advice would you give people trying winter sports for the first time?
Skiing and snowboarding require a lot of equipment. This can all add up fairly quickly and be tough on the wallet. You can rent or borrow gear to go out and try it before you commit.
What are some of the highlights of being outdoors?
Being able to climb or ski with your friends and family is always really fun, usually a bit of an adventure, but the best thing about going out climbing or skiing is the time in between the actual activities. Catching up on the chair lift or hiking in the backcountry while you are skiing or sharing stories around the campfire after a long day of climbing is priceless. True human interaction and connection seems to be harder and harder to experience these days.
What is the one thing you would want everyone to know about being outside?
It's really healthy for your mind and body to get outside and play and a great way to make real connections with your friends and family. I also like to remind people it's cheaper than therapy....
After speaking with Jimmy, I felt more inspired than ever but can understand how driving up to a mountain and strapping on skis can be intimidating. Winter sports may seem to be for extreme athletes only but nothing could be further from the truth.
I am slow as a sloth, ripping up the green runs and regularly have six year olds yelling at me to get out of their way. These four foot skiers publicly shaming me in front of their peers. Despite this, I still have a smile on my face. I love being outdoors, trying new trails and meeting wonderful people in the outdoor community.
Being in nature is healing, happy and brings out the very best in life. Being outside is nothing short of magic. If you have never tried winter sports or it has been a long time, dust off those old skis and capture the magic that nature will bring to you.
Keep watching my blog as a I continue to go out and see more of the world, I will share tips how to have the best time of your life.
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