48 Hours of Celebrating Skiing: Tanner Hall Invitational, Shane McConkey Weekend and Dumont Cup

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The energy was almost palpable. With every attempt – whether stomped or a spill – the bar was raised; the air-time increased, the grabs became more technical. But every jump was focused on style.

A 720 blunt over the quarter pipe gap from Tanner Hall, himself. A massive dub twelve over the entire hip (30-feet across the tabletop) from Henrik Harlaut. A flatspin 720 from Sammy Carlson, topped off with his signature grab. And eventually, as the session wound down, a double backflip over the hip from Candide Thovex.

“This is the best day of skiing I’ve had all year,” one competitor cried out after clearing the hip. “Tanner, I love you! This thing (the feature, built by Snow Park Tech) is so sick!”

Nearly two-dozen skiers were on hand for the first-ever contest, but really, the Tanner Hall Invitational, held at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, was just a massive jam session between friends and fellow stylists – and it was just one of three celebrations of skiing going on across the country.

At nearby Squaw Valley, the weekend was dedicated to the memory of one of the most influential, original and hilarious individuals to pull on a pair of skis: Shane McConkey. Those festivities included a sometimes-sexy, mostly ridiculous Arabian Nights-themed gala; an all-out, no holds barred, “Chinese Downhill” race from the top of KT-22 to the bottom riding snowblades (the annual Pain McShlonkey Classic); and another opportunity to get weird: an ‘80s themed party where rhythm and a fashion-sense weren’t necessary and bright colors were a staple. The entire weekend was experienced in the spirit of Shane: dismissing ego, laughing at yourself and others, and being on the mountain with only fun on your mind.

The birth of the Pain McShlonkey event originated with Shane, but after he passed away four years ago, his wife, Sherry, saw carrying on the event as a way to “honor him greatly. “He started doing [the Pain McShlonkey race] because he loved to goof around and snowblades were [lame] and he always had to take the mickey out of everything,” she explained. “Everything is so serious in the ski industry, competitions are taken so seriously, so it’s just so nice to mix it up with fun.”

The entire weekend was hosted by the Shane McConkey Foundation, which is all about celebrating and commemorating the way Shane lived.

Meanwhile, across the country, one of those serious ski competitions was taking place: the fifth annual Dumont Cup at Sunday River, Maine.

“The event went great this year,” said Simon Dumont, whose functions as both the host and a competitor. “Sunday River stepped up big time and blew tons of snow and built the best course to date. Mother Nature was also on our side and gave us a sunny, warm day.

“The talent pool was a lot deeper this year; I think four athletes from the Open qualifiers made it through to the finals,” Dumont continued. “It’s amazing to see how far our sport has come and I’m very grateful to be a part of it as an athlete and event organizer.”

Of the 42 competitors in the contest (which counts for AFP points), our very own Joss Christensen managed to make his way onto the podium with a run which included some solid rail work, a right 10 leading tail, a left dub 12 double japan and a switch dub 10 tail to close.

“I’ve had good luck at the Dumont Cup in the past and I’m glad it still worked out! I’m 4 for 5 at the Dumont Cup for podiums,” Christensen said. “For me, the 2013 season has been a lot of fun. I missed out on a few contests though while recovering from knee surgery last summer, so that was really hard. But it has still been a journey of a season. I’m actually going to Europe for the third time this season, which is a record for me!”

Back at Sierra-at-Tahoe, after back-to-back, try-everything-possible jame sessions, the final result would be decided by the riders. Over the course of the day, every possible combination was exhausted on the two quarterpipes and two-sided hip ramp: quarterpipe-to-quarterpipe (in both directions), hip left, hip right, over the hip, straight airs, fakie straight airs, stalls, hand plants, double 12s, butters, and one of the longest truck drivers ever witnessed. After the jam sessions, once limits had been fitfully pushed and some spills resulted that promised sore bodies in the morning, a tally was taken. Phil Casabon won Best Style and Best Creativity, while Henrik Harlaut, who’d already had one hell of a season, won Best Skier.

“Today was just about bringing together some of the best and most stylistic skiers from around the world and having fun and getting creative,” Hall said. “This is one of the sickest features I’ve ever seen at a contest, and I couldn’t be happier with how today went. Everyone was loving it. It was a beautiful day.”

Video highlights from the Tanner Hall Invitational from Armada Skis: