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Too Rad Too Quick: The Unofficial Game of G.N.A.R.

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Can you ever have too much of a rad thing?

The jury is deadlocked, but many recent signs point to yes. Your dull headache and those tequila sweats may be two of them. The outcome of the Unofficial Game of G.N.A.R., a recent unorthodox Squaw Valley ski competition, was definitely one of them…

The Game of G.N.A.R. is a balls to the wall, extreme ski and personality competition designed by Shane McConkey and Robb Gaffney and featured in the last chapter of Gaffney's Squaw Valley guidebook, 'Squallywood.'

McConkey and Gaffney created G.N.A.R. — short for 'Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness' — as a point-based system for determining who was the 'raddest' skier at Squaw within a given time frame, be it a week or an entire season. G.N.A.R. points are awarded based on the discomfort a situation presents and your attitude towards conquering it. Following that formula, stomping a big cliff air might get you 500 points — but skiing that same line naked after shouting at the top of your lungs that you were 'about to rip the s--t out of it!' would earn you over double the points. G.N.A.R. points are also won or lost for random acts as defined in the rulebook: Losing your goggles in a crash costs you 1,000 points, while skiing into the High Camp hot tub fully clothed earns you 10,000.

In late February, local ski media website UnofficialSquaw.com announced its intention to host the first-ever professional Game of G.N.A.R. as both a competition and a documentary film project. The plan was to invite 20 athletes to battle it out the first two weeks of March for a winner-takes-all $25,000 bounty.

Within a week of the announcement, Unofficial Squaw had chosen the aspiring competitors based on video interviews.
Successful applicants impressed the judges, including Gaffney and Sherry McConkey, Shane’s wife, with the complete package — serious Squaw skills and a wicked sense of humor.

The Unofficial Game of G.N.A.R. commenced on Tuesday March 9, at about 4:30 a.m., or at least that’s when the first contestant arrived at the KT-22 lift line to claim his 5,000 points for first chair. What transpired once the lifts spun is unlike anything the Valley had seen in many, many years.

Not only did every skiable line get ripped, but the zany competition pushed the athletes to up the ante and toss tricks or look for other means of scoring extra-credit points. One skier tossed an inverted Lincoln Loop off the Fingers to earn a 1,000-point trick bonus. Dozens of skiers dropped technical 'BN' lines — BN being short for Butt Naked — and earned even more.

The freak freeskiing fun showed no signs of stopping until about 2:30 p.m. when a BN run went sour. Squaw Valley General Manager Mike Livak personally caught one of the contestants skiing naked after a Palisades lap. Livak was not amused. He pulled the skier's pass (5,000 point penalty) and asked to speak with Unofficial. Despite attempts, Unofficial was unable to contact Squaw management that Tuesday evening.

The G.N.A.R. negotiations began unexpectedly the next morning when Squaw Mountain Manager Jimmy King met up with the crew as they waited in line for KT-22 to open. He immediately told them the game was over until further notice, pulled their passes, and asked to hold a meeting with everyone involved that morning.

Squaw management met with the competitors about an hour later. They let them know that while they appreciated everyone being safe (Squaw’s first concern), they felt many competitors had shown poor judgment skiing naked as Squaw had received complaints about the behavior. According to one of the competitors in attendance, the discussion remained fairly positive as suggestions were made on how to change the rules and keep the game alive. Closing the meeting, Livak said to await a final
decision later that day.

At 3 p.m. Livak handed down his decision — G.N.A.R. was over! Livak cited the complaints and said there was no room for negotiation. Squaw could not allow an unsanctioned contest that had already broken resort policies and upset guests. Before competitors could get their passes back, Livak asked them to sign a waiver specifying that if they continued to compete they would risk an indefinite ban from Squaw.

Though crushed and dumbfounded, Unofficial quickly regrouped and began brainstorming alternative ideas on how to keep the spirit of G.N.A.R. alive. A backcountry freeride contest was toyed with, as was a contest held at a different resort, but in the end, Plan B was inspired by the obvious answer for many a wayward ski-bum — take a road trip!

Two days later, the contestants jumped in RVs and headed off on a week-long journey to bring the spirit of G.N.A.R. to four neighboring resorts: Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Mammoth, and Snowbird. As the new venues had no attached point values, the competition for the $25,000 was called off. The prize money was used to pay for the road trip and the remainder was donated to charity.

The competitors continued to put on a show at the alien resorts by rat packing around and hucking big lines in full G.N.A.R. regalia. Several serious hits were stomped on snowlerblades, but no further trouble ensued with resort authorities as most of the crew kept their clothes on and steered clear of dubious pranks. Though the raddest skier at Squaw was never crowned, Unofficial did succeed in collecting hours of hilarious footage that will be released this fall in a full-length G.N.A.R. documentary. No word yet on whether you’ll be able to witness the train of three 'BN' skiers rocketing down McConkey’s chute, but it’s damn certain that Shane saw it — and officially, that’s what counts.

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Reader comments so far...

Lance Smith (not verified)
Thanks, Squaw Valley, for not tolerating anything beyond the bounds of your smallmindedness.

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February 14, 2019