There are many cliches that get thrown around the ski world. There are so many “Legends” and for a while, everything was “epic”, but when it’s really needed, it’s a community without equals.
Shane McFalls was the filmer/driving force behind one of the best things ever in freeskiing: Travelling Circus and the cofounded The Yoke Collection. He had to go and get a “real job” to support his family, despite his wife Allie supporting him all the way through whatever ski endeavour he decided to pursue! In June 2020, their lives were dealt a hammer blow and you know which community rallied around…
Shane’s four-year-old son, Soren, was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2020, and Shane, Allie and their daughter, Teagan, needed all the help they could get.
To thank everyone for any help or support, Shane has got back behind the camera, and with the help of some old friends, has given us a little treat. To really get the whole story, I'd recommend watching "The Bravest people I know" first.
We had a great chat, at 6 am Shane’s time, and he told us the whole story….
Good morning Shane! How’s Soren doing?
He's doing ok. He’s in the phase of treatment, for the next two years, where they slowly turn the intensity down. He only has to go to the clinic once a month. The rest is daily chemo that you can just take at home. Then you cycle through different medicines/drugs like right now he takes these steroids for a week every month. They make him insane!
He’ll be the most extremely silly/happy and then two seconds later it’s the opposite. It’s exhausting to keep up with.
It builds up throughout the week, so by Sunday, he’ll be the most manic, and then he stops. Those weeks are a little trying, but in the big picture, it’s very manageable.
His hair grew back and he was finally out skiing this year. His legs were so f*cked, from the chemo, up the first year. That caused nerve damage so he couldn’t walk for a few months. He needed physio to walk straight. He wanted to but he just couldn’t do it.
He tried skiing that winter, just in the front yard, but his legs weren’t strong enough.
Had he skied at all before the diagnosis?
Neither of my kids had skied until this year. Like they’d both putzed around in the yard a little bit, but they’d never been on the lift or to a resort.
I took Teagan a couple of times on the rope or whatever, then I was like:
“you’re done. You’ll figure it out. Just go!”
There’s a little T-Bar, which is in the video, in my town. It’s 5 bucks, it’s super cool.
Those were the most fun days, for sure.
I saw Soren on the rail in the video.
Yeah, he’s psyched! We have a sh*t-ton of Playmobil and he’s constantly building rails. He’s fully into it, which is hilarious.
For a while actually, when they were little –before cancer, Covid, and being home all the time—they didn’t really watch videos. The only videos I’d show him were skiing or skateboarding videos. They would ask to watch them because they didn’t know that there were other kids’ shows and stuff.
I wish I could have kept that up.
Have they veered off to other stuff now?
Yeah. Once the cancer sh*t started and you’re just sitting in a hospital, you need a distraction, so they started watching normal kids PBS shows and stuff.
They have a very strange knowledge of skate/ski stuff, which is funny. They know all about rails and flips.
Every once in a while, I’ll be “oh I’ve been top Japan” or “I’ve seen a monkey” and I have to pull up an old Travelling Circus episode, as a reference.
He actually snowboards too. He has a snowboard, that he got super into at the end of the year.
Ski and snowboard at four, that’s impressive.
Yeah, he’s fully down. About two months ago, a big package showed up and it was a complete skateboard, that a Travelling Circus fan sent. I don’t know this dude at all.
It’s got custom griptape with dinosaur bones graphics. A full skateboard for Soren, with really nice wheels, bearings, and everything. It’s nicer than anything I’ve ever ridden!
The man himself proudly showing off his skateboard!
That just showed up out of the blue with a little note to Soren.
I figured out who it was and DMed them on Instagram. I spoke to them a little bit and they had a brother who passed away from Leukemia. He was just a Travelling Circus fan.
This was way after the initial wave of support, So that was pretty cool. He’s been pushing around that in the house.
You said that’s why you made this video. Almost as a thank you to the ski community. Do you have any other examples?
I was really hesitant to ask for help. People in my family said we should do a GoFundMe or a fundraiser, that was like week two and I didn’t want to think about that stuff. My mom said that Ally just quit her job and that we should do this and we needed help.
It was so overwhelming, to see all of the ski community. Whether it was brands that I had nothing to do with or people that I’d seen like once on a trip in France or something or someone I’d slept on their couch in the Midwest. It was just really overwhelming and I remember having a conversation about how I am going to pay this forward?
People said I’d figure it out, so this is something I’ve been thinking about, just to keep making stuff and keep contributing because not everybody has a community of people that they can turn to. It’s very special. As cheesy as that sounds.
It was also motivating. I still wanted to do stuff like this and it just took a bit of time for Covid and Cancer and everything to just calm down a little bit, so I could just do some stuff.
We probably filmed seven or eight days for this little video and that’s probably the most normal I’ve felt for two years.
I had lots of plans to film other stuff and the weather was sh*t. Everybody’s sort of an adult now so the schedules are a little trickier. Will and Andy are on such a crazy schedule. They stayed in my neighbour's house a few times when they were on their tour, but they wouldn’t get here until late at night. I’d see the van drive by and -because of COVID- I didn’t want to go in the house with those guys, they’d been everywhere!
I’d leave the keys on the porch and I’d see the van arrive and leave. One morning they had a few hours so I set up my rail for them. Will hit a few times and Andy was in the van like “we gotta go!”
I skied with them a few times at their tour stops, but I’m really picky about filming park stuff. I don’t want to film at a random park anymore.
I’m 35! I’m old!
It was just a cool part of me paying it forward and keep contributing to this community.
I just wanted to give Newschoolers a heads up, because they’ve been a huge part of everything. I’ve been on there for like 20 years. Maybe not actively posting, as an adult, but I’m still on there for sure.
I’ve pretty much been making this kind of video, park skiing since I was 15.
It just felt like something I wanted to do and still do.
When everything calms down, do you think you’ll want to get back into this?
No! I don’t think I’ll ever do this as a job. Doing this kind of stuff, as a job, wasn’t a good balance, for me.
I don’t know, something about it got weird. That was maybe five or six years ago so I thought I’d not do this as a job. I have a day job where I make very boring videos. Straight up commercial stuff. It’s really easy and it pays our mortgage.
It’s just like bank, marketing, everything stuff. I’m just a video guy to them. I kind of like it because it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it. Skiing becomes the fun escape part. That wasn’t the case at the end of TC. It was a job and it felt too much like a job. I never wanted it to wreck my relationship with skiing.
But you’ll stay involved with skiing?
I hope so yeah. I always like having a fun side personal project. Whether that’s a fun video or I did a JSkisgraphic this winter, which I’m pretty excited about. Just doing things on the side for fun. Purely for fun.
I have ideas for other fun little videos. I want to stay involved until I’m truly too old and it’s like; ‘Dude, this is weird. You’re like a weird old guy!’
We felt old at the end of TC and I stopped six years ago, so I can’t imagine how they feel now!
Those dudes are tapped into some sort of fountain of youth. Will just doesn’t seem to get hurt.
Most of this video was filmed in Sugarbush. I’d get there way earlier than everybody else. Those dudes don’t show up until f*cking noon.
Haha, they’d text me at like 10; ‘What time are you thinking of getting there?’
I’d already been there for like an hour, just skiing by myself.
It’s a little different these days, but I don’t feel like an adult.
I don’t get to ski that much anymore, so there’s a level of gratitude there now when I do.
The Travelling Circus crew getting the recognition they deserve
Do you have a message for Newschoolers or the ski community in general?
When I was younger I was a supersh*t-talker on NS. With aliases and everything. Just being a dickhead on the internet, when I was 18. There are so many things about skiing that I just don’t ‘get’ or are not for me.
I’m old enough to remember a time when if you saw somebody with twintips, from a chairlift, you’d go talk to them. Which is crazy now, you’d never do that. You’d never be like; ‘Yo! You have twintips too! Sweet, we should ski together!’
That’s fully why I had any sort of career in skiing. That’s essentially how I met Will and Andy.
I think that mentality of how this is a super-unique community is something to hold on to.
I would never have expected to need the ski community in the way that I did when Soren got cancer. I just want people to know that I see you, I appreciate it and it was super, super important, and helpful.
Here’s the video and, on Shane’s behalf, thanks to the community: