Vail Valley celebrates late snowboarder
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – It’s been more than six years since 23-year-old Josh Malay died after a snowboarding accident in Spain, but it doesn’t stop Vail Valley locals from keeping his memory alive, year after year.
Skiers and snowboarders celebrated the seventh annual “Malay Day” Thursday – a day where the locals get together at Malay’s favorite mountain to remember him for his attitude, care-free spirit and his contributions to the sport of snowboarding.
“He gets me motivated on life,” said Caitlin Rapson, of Edwards, who knew Malay for many years. “He holds a really special place in my heart. He was so genuine, so honest – he kind of gives you something to strive toward.”
This year was just the second year Malay Day was held at Beaver Creek instead of Vail, and Malay’s friends and family members agree that Malay Day is right at home at Beaver Creek.
Malay was a Vail team rider, but Beaver Creek was where he felt at home, said his younger brother, Sean Malay.
“Today is about keeping his spirit alive,” Sean Malay said.
Sean Malay is a snow cat operator for the Beaver Creek Park Crew, and when the crew is designing terrain park features, Josh Malay is always in the back of their minds.
“When I’m in that machine I’m thinking he’s going to come here tomorrow and ride what I built,” Sean Malay said. “This is all his style.”
Josh Malay was someone who always wanted to progress in snowboarding. He pushed others around him to push themselves, and the people who celebrated his short life Thursday never forget that about him.
“He was probably the best snowboarder any of us have ever seen,” said Joe Otremba, of Eagle-Vail, who was friends with Josh Malay. “He was just a natural talent. He would go bigger than everyone else – he just inspired a lot of us to keep going and get better.”
Josh Malay’s friends say he touched their lives in different ways. For Rick Rodriguez, it was Josh Malay’s leadership as both a person and a snowboarder that left lasting impressions on him.
“He took me under his wing,” Rodriguez said. “He showed me that you can still be a gnarly snowboarder, but people can still like you – you can still be a good influence.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.