How Two Tahoe Skiers Invented the Term ‘Shred the Gnar’

The term “shred the gnar” is a heavily used saying in extreme sports. The terms’s popularity had grown so much in recent years that you can actually find “gnarly” in Merriam-Webster Dictionary with the definition “very difficult or challenging to deal with.”

Most people are familiar with “shredding the gnar,” but did you know it was invented by two skiers on the slopes of Tahoe?

Professional skiers Scott Gaffney and Shane McConkey (rest in peace) invented a game at Squaw Valley (now Palisades Tahoe) in the 1990’s to quantify the level of “radness” on each run or day of skiing. The game was called G.N.A.R. and stood for Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness, awarding points based on different moves on the mountain. For example, if you ski one section you might get 10 points, and if you jump and do a 360 you might get 20 points.

So when the two pro skiers would score points in their invented game, they would say “that’s gnar.” And the word used round the world was invented.

Here is a great explanation from a viral TikTok:

@kristin_aranya When you marry a skier #ski #skiersoftiktok #skilife #rossignol #vermontlife #vermonttok #sugarbushresort #sugarbushparks #skittheeast ♬ original sound – Kristin Aranya

Today, Gaffney still lives out his life as a professional skier, filmmaker and overall legend in the Tahoe region. Shane McConkey tragically died in a ski-base jump accident on the Italian Dolomites in 2009. In 2011, McConkey was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and is still remembered with the Shane McConkey Foundation and annual runs at Palisades Tahoe.

Thanks to these two skiing legends, we now have a great word to explain the joy of life.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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