Hundreds gather to celebrate Malay Day
VAIL – There’s opening day. There’s a powder day. And then there’s Malay Day.You’d be hard pressed to find a day more magical at Vail than Malay Day, where hundreds of people gathered to do what they love for a guy they loved.Friday at Golden Peak, the masses assembled for the third annual Malay Day, commemorating local pro rider Josh Malay, who passed away in February 2004 in snowboarding accident.Under sunny skies, boarders and skiers rode the park, ate, drank, relaxed and laughed, all while keeping Malay in mind.
“It’s a good day to come out and rip with all your friends. Everyone comes together to remember (Josh),” said Joe Otremba, who like Malay, came to Vail from Minnesota. “I met him when I came out here. He’s a big inspiration to us all. He used to ride with us. He’d give us pointers and show us what’s up.”Of the more than 400 people at the event, it seemed like everyone had some connection to Malay.”I moved up here right before he passed away,” said Tony Bennett. “He’s so nice. All my friends knew him, and every time I met him, he was the nicest guy. This is the best gathering of the year. That’s why I drove three hours just to do it.”Others, like local pro rider Rob Bak didn’t have to travel that far, but that in no way diminished his enthusiasm for the event.”On a stoked level of 1-to-10, it’s at a 29 right now,” Bak said. “This is amazing. This one is going off. Josh’s mom (Pat) is so stoked right now.”
A happy faceThat so many people can gather to remember a 23-year-old may seem astounding, until you meet Malay’s mother, Pat. Then you see how Malay could have befriended so many.”This is incredible energy,” Malay said. “I expected a little more than last year, but not this many. It warms my heart.”Pat Malay couldn’t have been any more proud of her son Josh and his endeavors, or any more thankful for the support she has received from his friends.
“They’ve stayed in touch with me and they’ve been my energy,” Malay said. “E-mails, calls, flowers – they’re incredible. They’re just an extension of Josh’s family. I learn a little more every year.”This is the third Malay Day, and a couple of this kids asked specifically if I could come back for this year, and I couldn’t say no. And of course, Sean (her other son, who operates a snwocat at Beaver Creek) was at the top of my list. I wouldn’t miss it for Josh either because I get so much energy from him. He’s just here. He’s so here.”There was an air of friendship on the mountain – between the cooking on the grill, passing out slices of watermelon or sharing big smiles – that just doesn’t happen on a normal day. “It’s a day for everybody to remember,” Bak said. “Everybody’s got a friend that’s passed. It’s for Josh today, and for everyone else. It’s for the cause – to come out get gnarly.”
MomentumPat Malay was astounded by how quickly the event got put into motion the first year and how much effort is put in each year.”I’m so grateful to the entire Vail community because they all step up without hesitation,” Malay said.And sometimes it’s just the small things that really put a smile on her face.
“I just walk down the mountain and people say, ‘Hey Pat! Hey Ms. Malay,'” she said. “I look forward to seeing them once a year and getting my energy back.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado