(skip to 1:25 to see Jim McConkey in action)
Jim McConkey was once described by the legendary Austrian skier, Ernst Hinterseer, as the “Best all-round skier in the world”. There is no doubt that he was one of the first of the “extreme skiers” honing his considerable skills in the 1960s.
Born in 1926, he first experienced skiing when he strapped on, as he recalls, “very short skis with only toe straps ” to slide down a small hill in front of the family home in Barrie, Ontario. He went on to become one of the most famous of the so-called “powder hounds” for his superb deep powder snow technique. ‘McConk’ as he was affectionately known preferred what was then the strictly unconventional. His “gelandi jumping” and acrobatics on skis were the precursors to free-style aerials and the free-style movement generally. He sought out and reveled in difficult snow conditions, broken crust, ice and the infamous “mashed potatoes” conditions in order to improve his skills. Thought to be nearly impossible to ski, he was the first to conquer the gullies at both Alta and Snowbird. – skimuseum.ca