Next season K2 is planning to put out a special edition of the Pontoon skis, with part of the proceeds going to Sherry and Ayla. Matchstick has rereleased 'There's Something About McConkey,' and Gaffney says the company also plans to make an updated McConkey documentary to benefit his family. There is talk of a memorial photo book from Red Bull, which paid to fly Shane's body home, just as they had funded so many of Shane's trips over the past decade.
McConkey hated being away from home, but his job had him traveling three to four months of the year. His way of showing remorse was typically backhanded: He set up a competition he called "King of the Douches" with a half-dozen athlete-dad friends, including Daisher and Gaffney. At the end of each month, they had to report how many days they'd been away. McConkey kept track on a spreadsheet and crowned the "King Douche" at the end of the year. Last year, he beat snowboarder Jeremy Jones by one point.
Another, grimmer bet he called "Last Man Standing": A group of guys, athletes all, put $100 into a pot at the beginning of each year. The last one left alive keeps the whole thing.
Shane and Sherry had talked about what they'd do when he was done skiing, making plans for running steep-skiing camps and tending the rental properties Shane had bought years ago, before the market spiked. "It would have been easy," Sherry says. But despite knee surgeries, a dislocated hip, and other injuries, Shane wasn't ready to quit. If anything, ski-BASEing actually extended his career, sparing his knees and back the hard impacts off 40-foot cliffs. But it also meant he couldn't get life insurance.
Should Shane have slowed down at his age? Should he have given up his passion because he had a child? Could he have at least toned it down a little, skipped the ski-wingsuit-BASEing? Sherry dismisses the notion outright. "People are constantly asking me how I ‘let' Shane do what he did," she says. "It just floors me. To me, it would have been like putting an eagle in a cage – a tiny cage."
She had that in mind when she chose the quote for Shane's memorial program, from Leonardo da Vinci: "Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return."
Later in the afternoon, Ayla wakes up from her nap and walks down the hall, rubbing her eyes, still in her ballet clothes, blond hair falling across her forehead in bangs as she chases the kitten around the living room. "I got a kitty," she says proudly, finally snaring the creature. "Her name's Princess."
Ayla's like any three-and-a-half-year-old, concerned with snacks and books and dancing and toys, living a life of constant discovery and play. Like her father. She's already used to him being away for long periods of time.
Sherry leads me into Shane's office, which is cluttered and lined with books: 'Eat, Pray, Love' next to Ben Franklin's 'Fart Proudly.' On a shelf sits a photo of his old dog, Gage, a malamute who died a year and a half ago. That's when Shane and Sherry had to explain the concept of death to Ayla, which turned out to be a good thing. Now that Shane is gone, she knows right where he is. She knows that Daddy is with Gage now.