McConkey: Not just for skiers

Written by Anna Husted on  at

I saw McConkey with a packed house at the Tribeca Film Festival last April. It was the World Premiere and I was surprised Matchstick Productions and RedBull Media House chose Tribeca as its World Premiere (truly, it's more like Tribeca chose McConkey). This was no ski movie tour or ski movie premiere. It was just another New York City film festival and another documentary. Where were the skiers? Where was the hooting and hollering when Shane goes big at Squaw Valley? I was frustrated that the people I stood in line with weren't skiers or snowboarders and who didn't know who Shane McConkey was. I was frustrated that during the post-premiere Q&A a woman asked director David Zieff what this ski-BASEing really was. I was frustrated because I felt happiness and sadness and grief all at once as I watched this film about a man who I grew up watching in almost every ski movie from the time I was born, who was so full of life and took skiing, a hobby for almost everyone, so seriously. I was frustrated because it seemed as though the Tribeca audience just thought this guy was some adrenaline-seeking loose-cannon. Maybe he was, but he was every skier's adrenaline-seeking loose-cannon, not theirs.

But then I read the reviews and the audience reactions over the following weeks; turns out New Yorkers loved this documentary. People who didn't even know how to ski or know who McConkey was, found the film compelling. And that is a tribute to McConkey's life and the legend he leaves behind.

Rotten Tomatoes, a movie review site where various reviews are compiled into one score, doesn't have a single review (and therefore no score) for Warren Miller's Extreme Winter or Ride or Impact. Not only does Rotten Tomatoes have a score for McConkey, but it is a score of 100%. I have seen better documentaries than McConkey, but Rotten Tomatoes is not wrong. McConkey is heartful, honest and grapples with a man who filmed almost every part of his life (even the tough parts), threading a narrative through his life that was as big as him. It's not just a skier's film; it's a filmgoer's film.

Join us at Lone Peak Cinema November 27 for the Big Sky Premiere of McConkey.
-Anna

Movie Poster

Saucer Boy