Red banners under a blue sky: Malay Day ‘destroys’ Golden Peak |

Red banners under a blue sky: Malay Day ‘destroys’ Golden Peak

Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Pat Milbery catches some air and style during the big air portion of Malay Day Thursday on Vail Mountain.

On the warning sign that sits at the mouth of the Golden Peak halfpipe, there is a fading skull and crossbones sketched underneath the signature of Josh Malay.

The tag, which is positioned directly in the middle of the largest of three snowboard icons on the sign, was no doubt inked by the late Malay — who died in a snowboarding accident in February — for two reasons.

One, Josh Malay was a Vail rider.

Two, Josh Malay did everything big.

For someone who didn’t have small in his vocabulary, the first Malay Day held at Vail on Thursday was a fitting tribute to an incomparable spirit — a sparkling morning and early afternoon jam session devoted to destroying the park and remembering a cherished friend.

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“Malay Day came about because Josh was a Vail team rider and we wanted to have a special day in his honor,” said Liz Weiss, the snowboard marketing coordinator for Vail who was the catalyst for the event. “Everybody has chipped in and donated their time. Josh was always up for anything. He was just always up for what Vail was doing. Just his vivaciousness and his vitality — hopefully, this event will carry that on forever.”

For $20, riders and skiers of all levels got to compete in three session-style competitions, starting with a halfpipe jam, followed by a railjam and then a big air contest.

Instead of bibs each contestant was given a ragged piece of red cloth to safety pin to their body — one of Malay’s favorite fashion accessories — and was treated to a free lunch, courtesy of Vail Mountain.

There was also a truckload of prizes given out to competitors for free or through a raffle that were donated courtesy of Vail Mountain, Oakley, Santa Cruz, The Other Side snowboard shop and Transworld Snowboarding.

All proceeds from the competition went to the Malay Memorial Fund, with the participating sponsors and Vail picking up the expense tab.

The best prizes were given to the “destroyers” of each competition — the best three or four riders — who were chosen by the three-judge, all-pro panel of “Ninja” Jay Isaacs, Barrett Christy and Adam Merriman.

‘Shredding for a cause’

While Thursday’s event featured real contests with real prizes, the most important thing was that everyone involved, from Malay’s family and friends, to fans who had come to show their support, never had Josh far from their minds.

“I’m just here to have fun,” said Rob Bak, one of Malay’s good Vail buddies. “I’m just stoked to be out here and shredding for a cause and all these people showing up, having a good time. It’s a contest, but there really is no contest. Everybody’s here for the cause. It’s a real low-impact contest. No one really cares who wins or who loses. It’s just a day of fun.”

“I knew him for about four years,” said J.D. Brown, a close friend who had met Josh through Oakley sponsorships. “I just met him at Beaver Creek one day, and we just rode together after that. I think this will honor him a little bit more (than just a memorial service). It’s good, because it’s something that will last more than just this year. This will go on for a long time.”

Malay’s mother, Pat, flew from Minnesota with her fiancee John to be at the event along with Josh’s younger brother Sean, who got big cheers from onlookers every time he dropped in on the pipe.

She was just happy to be back in Vail with Josh’s second family reveling in the sunny weather and the graciousness of her son’s professional sponsors.

“The people that are backing this have just been so generous,” said a smiling Mom Malay. “This is more what Josh would like. This is more what he’d be doing today. It’s such a beautiful day, too.”

The most telling sign that Malay Day was a success was that those closest to Josh, including his mom and Vail Team rider Rachel Nelson, said they could sense Josh’s spirit in the air.

“I knew him as soon as he moved out here, I guess,” said Nelson. “From then on, I rode with him almost every single day for the past five years. He’s totally screwing with me today. My battery in my car is dead and I forgot my gloves, but I know he’s like, ‘Just get up there and do it.’ Everyone is riding hard just because everyone knows he’s here with us now.”

Added a smiling Bak, before dropping in on his third run in the pipe, “I know he’s pushing me. I’m going to have to start going here pretty soon. He’s kicking me in the ass right now.”

Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via e-mail at

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