The sinking feeling you get when you hear a skier that you've never met has died; we've all been there. The strange emptiness the world elicits as you wake up the next day in a world without them. Why is the feeling that something has been taken from us so tangible while the good feelings of yesterday far less perceptible? I was 16 when Shane Mcconkey died. I was on a bus heading down Little Cottonwood Canyon when I overheard two guys talking about Shane and his death. I couldn't believe it. Strange, that someone who engaged in one of the most dangerous sports on a daily basis could seem so immortal. Skiing felt different the next day, the conditions were the same, I'm not sure a single snow flake was out of place from the day before, I had been diminished. I stared at a pair of Pontoons resting against the lodge; they seemed to immortalize his memory and yet utterly fail to encompass his life at the same time. No super-man front can ever quite satisfy the void.
It wasn't until this year that I realized how inextricably tied I was to skiing. 2 years ago I had the best season of my life; the best times of my life with tons of old and new friends all stomping new tricks together. The next year, I moved away to college, got really busy with school, started working long hours and stopped making skiing a priority. I skied 3 times that season and it wasn't the old friend I had remembered. I was skiing at a new resort with a different group of friends and everything felt out of place. I didn't enjoy skiing like I used to. I woke up one definitive Saturday morning and didn't go skiing; I didn't do anything at all.
This year, winter rolled in, Alta's lifts started turning, the season's first edits and early-season stoke filled my news feed, and I didn't get a pass. It's the middle of January and I still haven't bought a pass. The community that had always been a literal part of me had fallen out from under me. Worst of all, it was completely my doing; I had forgotten who I was. Don't chase after something to discover you don't like who you've become. Don't turn your back on the community that has shaped you. As for me, I'm going skiing next week for the first time in over a year. I'm looking forward to returning to the sport that has brought about my greatest memories, that is my identity, skiing.