When pro skier Shane McConkey died in a ski-BASE accident in Italy on March 26, 2009 -- two years ago this week -- he left behind a wife, Sherry, and their now five-year-old daughter, Ayla. I visited Sherry at her Squaw Valley, California, home to talk about what it was like being married to skiing's most talented funnyman and how she and Ayla are doing in Shane's absence. These are Sherry's words.
Shane and I got married in 2004 on the beach in Thailand. On our wedding day, I went climbing and Shane went BASE-jumping. We spent our honeymoon in northern Thailand trekking through the jungle with barely anything. We didn't even bring a backpack. We slept on the ground. We ate from the jungle.
I never thought, 'Oh, he's Shane McConkey.' Shane was just Shane to me. Just a normal person. That's what I loved about him.
We thought we were having a boy. Shane was relieved when she was a girl. That way she wouldn't feel the pressure to live up to his name. I'd like Ayla to grow up being athletic because it's an incredible way to experience this beautiful world. I want her to experience the joy of skiing and what it can do to you mentally and spiritually.
I left Ayla with Shane when she was little and when I got back, he'd taught her to lift her shirt when he said "Girls Gone Wild."
I've BASE-jumped three times, just to say I've done it. I would never have done it by myself. And I'll never do it again. I'm a mom -- I'm the only thing she has now.
To me, life is risky. You can't avoid it. And it's over when it's over. I've gone through this experience and I have a million questions. But I know it's impossible to find the answers. I just hope the reason we don't have the answers is because it's the most beautiful place where we get to go.
Ayla knows that he's gone. We talk about him everyday. I'm so lucky with the amount of photos and film there is of Shane. It's still hard for me to watch a movie or read an article about him. It's hard on a daily basis and it's harder to hear his voice.
I can't even begin to name the thousands of people who have helped over the last two years. Shane's sponsors have been so generous. Squaw gave Ayla and me season passes for the next 20 years. A 17-year-old kid made a movie and showed it at his school and donated all the profits to Ayla's college fund. It just keeps going on and on.
People will remember Shane for the way he changed skis with reverse camber. Nobody believed him at first. I'm so proud of what he's done. You go in the lift line at Squaw and you can see his influence everywhere.
He wanted to change ski boots next. He wanted to make a lace-up boot that was more comfortable. And he thought about doing bindings using magnets.
Shane fulfilled every dream. He wanted to ski-BASE like in the James Bond movie, which he did. He had a dream to make a better ski, which he did. He believed he could do anything. He lived 100 percent and he took me on that ride.
Some people claimed after he died that he must not have loved his family if he did things like BASE-jumping. Who do they think they are for saying that? He was so passionate about everything, especially us.
In his Valentine's card the month before he died, Shane promised to cook more. He never cooked or did laundry. I got a photo of him cleaning the bathroom the one time he did it.
What do I miss most? When you're a mother or a father, only you can really delight in what your child does. It's so hard being proud of Ayla and wanting to share that with him. There's nothing I don't miss about him -- even his farts, his laundry, his mess.
The first year after he died was a year from hell. It was nonstop awful. It's not normal yet, but I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.