Imagine telling a professional athlete, “I can’t believe you’re a pro. I’m so much better than you.” That’s exactly what the game of G.N.A.R., played at ski areas around the West, encourages participants to do. Meant to showcase the good-natured part of the sport of skiing, G.N.A.R points can be scored anytime, anywhere.
In 2003, Robb Gaffney wrote the book “Squallywood“, a guidebook to the most exposed lines at Squaw Valley. Legendary skier Shane McConkey added the chapter “G.N.A.R”, which stands for Gaffney’s Numeric Assessment of Radness, poking fun at those on the slopes taking themselves a bit too seriously.
Skiing certain lines at Squaw, where the game originated, score a certain number of points. But there are ways to improve the score. You get extra credit for skiing a difficult line while also talking to your mom on your cell phone. If you really want to up the fear factor a notch, try skiing the line BN, short for Butt Naked. That provides an extra 5,000 points for men and 10,000 points for women. (I suppose that extra 5,000 points is a either a consideration of how we women actually have more to show or perhaps a way of encouraging us to show it off more often.)
In fact, rumor has it that a certain female ski patroller scored 10,000 G.N.A.R. points for an after-hours naked ski run at Crystal Mountain recently. She even tried to call her mom on her cell phone at the same time, but her mom didn’t answer. Certainly leaving a message for your mom while skiing Discovery Chair butt naked deserves a few extra credit points. But I digress.
Robb Gaffney is no stranger to extreme skiing. He lives with his wife Andrea and two children in Tahoe City and works as a psychiatrist in Squaw Valley. Starting in 1990, and continuing through medical school and residency, Robb helped his brother Scott produce numerous ski films including the most recent and probably the most popular, “G.N.A.R. The Movie“. He skied in most of his brother’s movies and has had several segments in Matchstick Productions films.
Currently Robb’s interest lies in backcountry skiing all over the Sierra Nevada and sharing some of these excursions with his kids. He has also founded a project called Sportgevity, with the goal of increasing the lifespans and physical health of athletes in action and mainstream sports.
This week on The Edge Radio, Gaffney will talk to us about playing the game of G.N.A.R, the late McConkey and how to get close enough to the edge without going over it. So often big skiing has been filled with big egos and bigger checkbooks. But Robb Gaffney reminds us of our roots. Sometimes the biggest risk is to throw away the rules and just have fun. Robb Gaffney is the man that knows how to do that.