Last week was a mixed bag. Personally, it was a great week. I spent a week locked away in a cabin in Whistler with seven friends. We rode Whistler and Blackcomb five days in a row (I have to admit to a Blackcomb bias) and did very little work. Tough week to beat.
While in Vancouver, I also had two of the best meals I have had in a very long time. The first, on Friday night, at Boneta was healthy and creative and unlike anything you’d find on most menus in the States. The second, on Saturday, was at Bin 941, an equally creative and fantastic tapas restaurant downtown. I also had a Sweet 16 cupcake at Original Cupcakes, the best bakery in town. (You might remember reading about OC cupcakes here at AR.com. They were the subject of Eric Adelson’s first installment of his semi-semi-irregular guest blog Eric’s Eats.)
Good riding, good friends, good food. As a vacation goes, it doesn’t get much better. (And I can’t wait to return for a month next February. Vancouver 2010, here I come!)
Professionally, however, last week was a downer. First, on my weekly ESPNTheMag.com blog, I wrote about yet another action sports athlete—this time, 18-year-old snowboarder Jamie Anderson—with a ruptured spleen. It’s a serious, rare injury in most sports, but in action sports, it seems to happen a few times a year. Fortunately, after a week in the ICU at Bennington Medical Center in Vermont, Jamie was sent home without having to undergo a splenectomy and with 1/3 of her spleen still fully functioning. She’ll be out for three months, but ready to return to snowboarding in time for summer training in July.
Then, on Thursday, I got a call from my friend Kristi, a professional skier, informing me that big-mountain ski pioneer Shane McConkey had been killed in a BASE-skiing accident in Italy. Shane was originally from Vancouver, and the news hit many people in the area hard. Ski lift operators at the mountain wrote good-bye notes to him on their white boards on Friday and every paper in town made mention of his death, and more importantly, of his life. Shane was 39 years old, a husband to wife Sherry and a father to three-year-old Ayla. He was one of the most well-liked and well-respected skiers in the world, and just a hoot to be around.
Today, I wrote about Shane for ESPNthemag.com. We also republished a piece from EXPN Magazine I did with him three years ago, when he first started ski-BASEing regularly. It was eerie to re-read the transcript from that interview, which talked so much about death, but also about life. It seems more fitting when writing about the death of someone like Shane to talk about life. He was a true pioneer and a visionary and few people lived their lives more fully. Which makes his absence seem like so much more of a loss.