A gift from above in Vail at Malay Day
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Josh Malay had a gift for all those who came to shred in his honor Thursday.
Powder, and plenty of it.
Malay, the Vail rider who died in a snowboarding accident in February 2004, may have been a great snowboarder but was better-known as that guy who everyone knew and loved. The legacy of his generosity continued at the fifth annual Malay Day, as riders and skiers were greeted at Vail’s Golden Peak with close to a foot of fresh snow on a mid-April day.
“I’m sure he’s up there making it snow now,” said Brian Peters, one of Malay’s friends.
“I honestly think so,” said Sean, Malay’s younger brother. “I’ve never, in four seasons here, seen it April 10 with 8 inches of snow on the ground and 5 or 6 in the park or pipe.”
And on a day when the park would normally be empty, more than 100 people spent a powder day hitting the halfpipe, rails and big jumps in a friendly jam session.
“That’s the way Josh liked to ride and have fun,” said Malay’s mother, Pat. “It wasn’t all about who did the best trick or who had the best moves, it was just push yourself and better your riding, have fun and enjoy everybody with you.”
Pat, who came into town from Minnesota, was right in the thick of things, standing between two rails with event organizers and Malay’s friends, tossing out prizes to boarders and skiers after they attempted tricks.
“It’s exciting to see all the kids who turned out on a day like today. They are crazy,” said Pat, donning a black jacket with a pink bone pattern. “I’m wearing Josh’s jacket, Sean’s pants and Sean’s goggles. I’m ready to go. I wish I had an inner tube so I could slide down.”
Along with the snow and free prizes, everyone was greeted with hot dogs and drinks and plenty of high-fives. Even without two of Malay’s good friends on hand ” Rob Bak and Steven Laterra were in Cancun, Mexico, for Laterra’s wedding ” the event had just as much flavor as years past.
“Any event that can hang on for five years, no matter if it’s a grass-roots or pro event, is a very cool thing,” said Greg Johnson, competition director for events such as the Session and the U.S. Snowboarding Open. “Luckily, there have been enough people in Vail to remember Josh. I also have to give mad props to ‘Ninja’ (Isaacs, Malay’s manager) ” he’s always making sure no one forgets. That’s huge. His core body of friends, some are here, and some are gone, but still people gather in Josh’s memory, and that’s what it’s about.
“Events in general have that competition edge to it. This is more of a gathering, kind of a feeling of a spirit.”
On Feb. 29, Sean and a core group of Malay’s friends hit the slopes for a mini commemoration.
“Leap year is every four years, and he died on leap year,” Sean said. “It was a close gathering. We destroyed the park, then went to Masato’s, and they gave us all this food.”
But on Thursday, the group included everyone from longtime friends like Andrew Steward to those who knew of Josh through a riding friend to the next generation of riders wearing the Malay handkerchiefs passed out at registration.
“He won’t ever be forgotten,” Steward said. “People that know him, and people who don’t know him want to show respect.”
“I wasn’t sure after the first year if it would continue, and it kind of snowballed,” Pat said. “I’m humbled. Vail takes good care of the Malays. It’s just awesome.”
As the snow continued into late Friday night, it was obvious that Malay takes care of Vail, too.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2935
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