Tahoe Skier Ryan Faye Had A Weekend To Remember

For Lake Tahoe, California, skier Ryan Faye, this past weekend was one he won't soon forget.

Faye won the legendary Pain McSchlonkey Classic on Saturday and, the next day, on Sunday, tricked Eagle's Nest—one of the resort's gnarliest lines. Each feat is more than noteworthy on its own, but together? Heroic.

Here's Faye's 360 down the center of Eagle's Nest.

The Pain McShlonkey Classic (known as the PMS), where Faye clinched his other accolade, functions as a celebration of life for the legendary Shane McConkey, as well as raising money for the charity created in his name.

The rules, outside of the fundraising component, are simple. A crowd of pro skiers, local legends, and eager no-names line up at the top of a run on Palisade Tahoe's piste. After a starting gun is fired, they race to the bottom. Whoever makes it down first wins the Golden Saucer.

The catch? Everyone must compete wearing snowblades. Carnage predictably ensues.

On the day of the PMS this weekend, 15 inches of fresh snowfall made the course difficult to navigate, but Faye came prepared, wielding a pair of custom wide snowblades fashioned from a pair of his dad's old Rossignol powder skis.

While it was a tight race, Faye, as we now know, clinched the victory in the male category, joined atop the podium by Wendy Fisher, the women's champion.

To learn more about his incredible weekend—and hear how he balances skiing and working—we tapped Faye for a quick question-and-answer session via email.

What makes doing a 360 off Eagle's Nest more difficult than, say, a more standard cliff feature?

"Eagle's Nest is likely one of the steepest runs available to the public in North America; its face hovers between 45-60°. The upper face terminates in a 20-40' cliff (which happens to point directly into a band of trees), so it's often skied as a right to left glorified side-slip; although one that would make most skiers think twice."

"The angle of approach on the bottom air lends itself to a leftside 360, although balancing your takeoff and pinpointing the landing definitely step up the difficulty more than the average cliff."

How did you prepare for the 360? Was it a carefully thought out decision, or was the snow good and you thought, "well, I guess today's the day"?

"I'll paraphrase from one of my favorite books, Squallywood by Dr. Robb Gaffney. If you show up to Eagle's Nest not expecting to ski it, the thing often looks friendly and skiable. But if you show up with big plans, the face feels much steeper and gnarlier than anticipated." 

"So when on Saturday morning I happened to glance up at a crew already on the Nest scouting it out, I didn't have much in mind. From the top I watched Noah Gaffney and Reinhart Plexico send their own lines, which told me the snow was good and the face skiable. All the right elements were there, and after doing my usual mental calculus on the risk factors involved, I gave it a go and came out unscathed!" 

You also recently won the PMS. Did you have a strategy, or did you just point 'em and pray?

"Man, the PMS this year was wild. It had snowed 15" overnight, combine that with 50+ snowbladers all racing for glory and you've got yourself an entertaining morning. I actually have a custom pair of blades - old Rossi powder skis that my dad cut in half and remounted on the tip section. These ultra-wides definitely helped out, but we were all leap-frogging each other on the way down. It was anyone's game until the very end."

Speaking of the PMS, what's it like riding through the opening section with people falling left and right? It looks like total madness.

"There was actually a decent sized slough pocket that popped off the upper cornice when we all dropped in. At least half of us got caught and swept off our feet but luckily the snow was light and we all made it out fine. After that, people were tomahawking harder than I've ever seen in the deep pow- only to pop right up and regain the lead when invariably everyone got stuck in the numerous flat sections!"

Finally, you're not just a ripping skier. You're also an engineer. How do you balance skiing and your work life? How often do you get to ski during the season?

"I'm a licensed engineer at an architecture firm in Truckee, so a pretty typical 9-5 office job. However, they let me have some flexibility towards skiing on weekday powder mornings. The FOMO can be real though when I'm staring at the webcams from my desk on a sneaky mid-week powder day. I'm fortunate enough to get in about 60 ski days a year, which I'm very grateful to have while still working a "real" job."

Related: Registration Is Now Open For Palisades Tahoe's Iconic 'Pain McShlonkey' Snowblade Race

Don't miss another headline from POWDER! Subscribe to our newsletter and stay connected with the latest happenings in the world of skiing.

We're always on the lookout for amusing, interesting and engaging ski-related videos to feature on our channels. Whether you're a professional or just an amateur, we want to see your best footage and help you share it with the world. Submit your video for a chance to be featured on POWDER and our social channels. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch high-quality ski videos.