How To Laugh At Yourself- Lessons from the Pain McShlonkey

294925_10150294293089521_5853638_n“You better run,” she said in a strong Chicago accent.

With my skis in one hand and pack on my back I did just that. I ran down the Amtrak platform towards car #3. It was 11:32 pm, early April of last year. All I really knew as of 1 hour prior to boarding was that I had bought a ticket from Salt Lake City, UT to Truckee, CA and I was heading for my first Pain McShlonkey (PMS). At 9:37 the next morning, the California Zephyr pulled into Truckee and I stepped off the train onto the sunny platform. Half an hour later I was changing into a cutoff one piece in a bathroom at Squaw Valley. I walked out onto the deck by the base of the Funitel and immediately I saw/made some friends. Last year I had the kind of fun which can only be had by giggling at yourself like a kid while skiing in costumes with friends.

This year when Sherry [McConkey] invited me back I was eager to return. Last year I missed the contest because of the train schedule. This year, I almost missed the start. I was trying to figure out how to put on my snowlerblades as the gun went off. I definitely ended up product testing the 10” of fresh snow Squaw received the previous night with my face. In other words, I fell repeatedly coming down Mountain Run.

Note to reader: while eating crap in mullet wigs consider using something other than a tiara to fashion said wig to your head. Also, when doing a Ski Ballet contest, I highly suggest choosing an 80’s love ballad to play on repeat in your head. It will help you become one with the moment, mountain, and music. You must become one with all three if you have any chance of winning… I guess you could also learn how to do pole flips. They’re pretty damn cool!

The energy at PMS is pretty damn cool too: an all-time stoke from absolute strangers. Skiing, which is full of ego so much of the time, can often turn into a contest of “Who can go bigger?!” At PMS the contest is not about who can go the biggest, but more so who can laugh at themselves the most. It’s easy to lose track of this even though it is the same feeling that has made us love skiing all along.

You remember that time when you were 9 and it dumped and you built that jump in your front yard, then refused to come into the house until it was dark (even though you were completely soaked)?

Or that time you were 16, went shredding all day with your friends, and did donuts in the parking lot until security threatened to call the cops, meanwhile you couldn’t stop laughing?

PMS is that kind of fun.

Alex Taran PMS

I never knew Shane [McConkey], I don’t have any grounds to write about him. But I can say: this event which is in his honor is incredible. There is some kind of joy, contagious laughter, and stoke for skiing which you cannot help but catch.

So, in case you can’t make it to next year’s Pain McShlonkey I have put together a list of things you can do wherever you are to “get into the mood”:

1. Be stoked to go ski no matter how slushy/hard/ variable the conditions are.

2. Don’t feel bad about doing ridiculous behavior (e.g. interpretive dancing) at awkward moments.

3. Do said ridiculous behavior loudly.

4. Do it with friends.

5. If your friends aren’t around, make friends with people you’ve never met.

And most importantly:

6. Do NOT take yourself seriously at all! Never miss a good opportunity to laugh at yourself!

By: Alex Taran



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