Many clichés circulate in the world of skiing. There are so many “Legends” and for a while it was all “epic”, but when it’s really needed it’s a community like no other.
Shane McFalls was the filmmaker/engine behind one of the best things ever in freeskiing: traveling circus and the co-founder The Yoke collection. He had to go get a “real job” to support his family, despite his wife Allie supporting him throughout the skiing endeavor he decided to pursue! In June 2020, their lives received a hammer blow and you know what community stepped up…
Shane’s four-year-old son Soren was diagnosed with leukemia in 2020, and Shane, Allie and their daughter, Teagan, needed all the help they could get.
To thank everyone for any help or support, Shane came back behind the camera and, with the help of some old friends, gave us a little treat. To really understand the whole story, I recommend you watch “The Bravest People I Know” first.
We had a great chat, at 6am Shane time, and he told us the whole story….
Hello Shane! How is Soren?
He is fine. He’s in the treatment phase, for the next two years, where they slowly lower the intensity. He only has to go to the clinic once a month. The rest is daily chemo that you can just take at home. Then you go through different meds/drugs like right now he is taking these steroids for a week every month. They drive him crazy!
He’ll be the most extremely stupid/happy and then two seconds later it’s the other way around. It’s exhausting to follow.
It builds up throughout the week, so Sunday it will be the most manic and then it will stop. These weeks are a little trying, but overall very manageable.
His hair grew back and he finally went skiing this year. Her legs were so screwed up, from chemo to first grade. This caused nerve damage and he was unable to walk for a few months. He needed physio to walk straight. He wanted to but he just couldn’t do it.
He tried skiing that winter, right in the front yard, but his legs weren’t strong enough.
Had he skied before the diagnosis?
None of my children had skied until this year. Like they’d both been hanging out in the yard for a bit, but they’d never been in the elevator or a resort.
I took Teagan a couple of times on the rope or whatever, then I thought to myself:
“You’re done. You’ll understand. Just go!”
There’s a little T-Bar, which is in the video, in my town. It’s 5 dollars, it’s super cool.
Those were the most fun days, for sure.
I saw Soren on the rail in the video.
Yeah, he’s excited! We have a shit of Playmobil and he is constantly building rails. He’s completely into it, which is hilarious.
For a while actually, when they were little – before cancer, Covid, and being home all the time – they didn’t really watch videos. The only videos I showed him were skiing or skating videos. They were asking to watch them because they didn’t know there were other kids shows and stuff.
I wish I could have continued like this.
Have they moved on now?
Yeah. Once the cancer started and you’re just sitting in a hospital, you need a distraction, so they started looking at normal kids PBS shows and all.
They have a very strange knowledge of skateboarding/skiing, which is fun. They know everything about rails and flips.
Once in a while I’ll be “oh, I’ve been the best Japan” or “I saw a monkey” and I have to pull up an old traveling circus episode, as a reference.
He also snowboards. He has a snowboard, which he got into at the end of the year.
Foursome skiing and snowboarding is awesome.
Yeah, he’s completely down. About two months ago a big package arrived and it was a complete skateboard, that a traveling circus fan sent. I don’t know this guy at all.
It has a custom grip with dinosaur bone graphics. A complete skateboard for Soren, with very nice wheels, bearings and all. It’s nicer than anything I’ve ever ridden!
The man himself proudly showing off his skateboard!
It just popped up out of the blue with a little note to Soren.
I understood who it was and I contacted them in DM instagram. I talked to them a bit and they had a brother who died of leukemia. He was only one traveling circus fan.
It was well after the first wave of support, so that was pretty cool. He pushed around that in the house.
You said that’s why you made this video. Almost like a thank you to the ski community. Do you have other examples?
I was really hesitant to ask for help. People in my family said we should do a GoFundMe or a fundraiser, it was like the second week and I didn’t want to think about it. My mom said Ally just quit her job and we should do this and needed help.
It was so overwhelming to see the whole ski community. Whether it was brands I had nothing to do with or people I once saw on a trip to France or something or someone I slept on his couch in the Midwest. It was really overwhelming and I remember having a conversation about how am I going to pay this forward?
People said I’d find it, so it’s something I thought about, just to keep making stuff and keep contributing because not everyone has a community of people to turn to. It’s very special. As corny as that sounds.
It was also motivating. I always wanted to do stuff like that and it just took a little while for Covid and Cancer and everything to calm down a bit, so I could just do stuff.
We probably shot seven or eight days for this little video and it’s probably the most normal I’ve felt in two years.
I had plenty of plans to film other stuff and the weather was crap. Everyone is sort of an adult now, so the schedules are a bit more complicated. Will and Andy have such a crazy schedule. They stayed at my neighbor’s house a few times on their tour, but they wouldn’t arrive until late at night. I saw the van go by and -because of the COVID- I didn’t want to enter the house with these guys, they were everywhere!
I would leave the keys on the porch and watch the van come and go. One morning they had a few hours so I set up my rail for them. Will knock a couple times and Andy was in the van like “we gotta go!”
I’ve skied with them a few times at their tour stops, but I’m really picky about shooting park stuff. I don’t want to film in a random park anymore.
I m 35 years old ! I am old!
It was just a cool part of me to pay it forward and continue contributing to this community.
I just wanted to give Newschoolers a warning, because they played an important role in everything. I have been there for about 20 years. Maybe I’m not actively posting, as an adult, but I’m still here, that’s for sure.
I’ve been doing pretty much this kind of video, park skiing since I was 15.
It just felt like something I wanted to do over and over again To do.
When everything calms down, do you think you’ll want to come back in there?
Nope! I don’t think I’ll ever do that as a job. Doing that sort of thing, as a job, wasn’t a good balance, for me.
I don’t know, something got weird. That was maybe five or six years ago, so I thought I wouldn’t do this as a job. I have a day job where I make very boring videos. Just commercial stuff. It’s really easy and it pays our mortgage.
It’s like banking, marketing, everything. I’m just a video guy for them. I like it because it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it. The skiing becomes the fun part of the getaway. This was not the case at the end of CT. It was a job and it felt too much like a job. I never wanted it to ruin my relationship with skiing.
But you will stay involved in skiing?
I hope so. I always like to have a personal project on the fun side. Whether it’s a fun video or I made a JSkischart this winter, which I’m pretty excited about. Just doing side things for fun. Purely for fun.
I have ideas for other fun little videos. I want to stay involved until I’m really too old and it’s like; ‘Man, this is weird. You’re like a weird old man!’
We felt old at the end of CT and I quit six years ago, so I can’t imagine how they feel now!
These guys are drawn from a kind of fountain of youth. Will just doesn’t seem hurt.
Most of this video was shot at Sugarbush. I would get there much sooner than everyone else. These guys don’t show up until fucking noon.
Haha, they were texting me at 10; “What time do you expect to get there?”
I had already been there for about an hour, skiing alone.
It’s a little different these days, but I don’t feel like an adult.
I don’t ski as much anymore, so there’s a level of gratitude now when I do.
The Traveling Circus team gets the recognition it deserves
Do you have a message for Newschoolers or the ski community in general?
When I was younger, I was a super talker on NS. With pseudonyms and all. Just being an asshole on the internet when I was 18. There are so many things about skiing that I don’t understand or are not for me.
I’m old enough to remember a time when if you saw someone with twintips, from a chairlift, you would talk to them. Which is crazy now, you would never do that. You would never be like; ‘Yo! You too have twintips! Honey, we should ski together!
That’s entirely why I had some sort of career in skiing. That’s basically how I met Will and Andy.
I think the mentality of how this is a super unique community is something to hang on to.
I never thought I would need the ski community like I did when Soren had cancer. I just want people to know that I see you, I appreciate it and it was super, super important and helpful.
Here is the video and, on behalf of Shane, thanks to the community: