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Valley Profiles

Profiling skiing icons Bobbie Burns, Chuck Ferries, Rick Kapala, Langely and Wiz McNeal, Phil Puchner and Penelope Street.

(page 6 of 7)

About Whiz and Langely McNeal ...

Whiz McNeal was in the doghouse. While his daughter was making her figure skating debut at this past summer’s Battle of the Blades ice show, he was in an airport. To make matters worse, she won the whole shebang with a grand prize of $3,000 for her charity of choice, the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF). And Whiz had missed it all.

The video of Langely decked out in a bright ’80s-tastic costume, flipping around the ice and performing lifts with difficult-to-pronounce names is already going viral on the internet. (In defense of Mr. McNeal, his flight home from visiting family was canceled.) But here’s the thing: Langely isn’t even an ice skater. She is a skier. To be more precise, she is an X-Games ski cross racer and a former SVSEF and Division 1 collegiate alpine racer.

Born and raised in Sun Valley, Langely was swimming, skiing, and riding a bike without training wheels by the age of two. She credits her love of the outdoors and adventure to her parents and to this community, one that she says is uniquely devoted to its youth programs, complete with world-class coaches, facilities, mountains and trails.

She also has a father adept and accomplished in his own right as an avid outdoorsman and 30-year veteran of the Sun Valley Ski Patrol, who instilled in her the values of hard work and commitment, along with a lifetime love of the outdoors. Together they ski Baldy, ride dirt bikes (though Langely wasn’t allowed to have her own until she turned 19), race mountain bikes and explore the mountains. Whiz’s words of encouragement to his daughter are always simple: “Be cool Lange, be cool. You got this.”

Langely is currently trying to follow in her parents’ footsteps and make Sun Valley her permanent home. “To make a living here, you sometimes have to be pretty creative,” she says. She is now an accomplished athlete beyond her alpine racing career. After switching to ski cross in 2006, she was a member of the World Cup Ski Cross Team from 2007-2010, was one of the top two ranked female ski cross racers in the country, and has competed at several X-Games
and North American Cups.

As a ski cross racer, it helps that Langely grew up skiing the slopes of Bald Mountain. “Standing on top of Upper Greyhawk with four buddies while someone screams ‘FIRST ONE TO THE BOTTOM WINS!’ is exactly where ski cross came from,” she explains. -Katie Matteson




Sun Valley Magazine encourages its readers to post thoughtful and respectful comments on all of our online stories. Your comments may be edited for length and language.

Old to new | New to old
Feb 6, 2012 12:02 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Love these shots. And great stories too! Thx for sharing.

Oct 22, 2013 09:56 am
 Posted by  superskier

Bobbie Burns - I remember him when I worked on the Sun Valley Ski Patrol. Other characters were numerous - Les Outes, Cathy Palm, ALL 35 of the Ski Patrol and last but not least - Lea Bacos - my fellow Canadian who managed Dollar Mountain and was my room-mate. He called me his fellow wet-back.

Those were the days when moguls were moguls (not the whale-back shapes you find these days), men were men, and women were glad. We had 1st powder on our way to safe ski runs too steep for snowcats. Then packed the runs and then skied the rest of the time when not slated for the patrol shack.

The instructors hated us for that and we hated them for getting all the girls but never mind - we were there only for the skiing. One trick when en route to ski packing was to pick out a particularly unlikeable instructor addressing his class - and systematically ski over the back of his skis - one after another after another. Childish really, but the hatred was tangible and we couldn't help ourselves.

Wish I could remember the ski patrollers' names - but the guys from San Francisco and LA were as mad as hatters and the lieutenants were local ranchers when not skiing. And me - i was the mad Canuck. Not mad because of my behaviour but mad on my skis. I don't know why people made such a fuss over Bobbie Burns. In my mind - Exhibition after a good dump WAS ALL MINE. One explosion, then another, then another - avalement - sat waaaay back, arms in the air - but not in slow motion like Old Man Burns. I liked to keep my speed up and blast over those bumps. If i didn't fall 3 or 4 times a run - I wasn't skiing. No disrespect to Bobbie - just flying the maple leaf. Well done Mr Burns for all your successes - you certainly got me revved up. I can still taste those steaks in The Ore House on Fridays with pay packet in hand. And the heated outdoor pool each evening with a Coors in hand at The Ram Hotel. What a life - paid to ski, room and board and all the latest skis to try out. Lovely Job.

Oct 23, 2013 06:23 pm
 Posted by  superskier

And whatever happened to Moe on the ski patrol - I was The only Crazy Canuck on the Patrol...back in the winter of '68-69. I remember come springtime when folks would gather at the bottom of River Run at the end of the day to watch various Patrollers schuss from quite high up as the snow was slow and then jump the stream at the bottom. Moe was always asked to do silly tricks and he never shied away - even though he never managed to pull them off. I can still see Moe and his skis stuck in the river bank, vibrating until he gradually slid back into the water - what a clown! He's probably area manager today.

And there was some crazy yet colourful chick who skiied full out on hard pack down through the trees and if she ran into one - she'd break into fits of unconrollable laughter.

And then there were the wonderful jazz duos at The Ram - husband on piano, wife on double bass during Happy Hour after a hard day's skiing and a swim in the heated pool...with sometimes more than a few Coors. After the paid entertainment did their thing - i would sit at the piano and take requests - double shot of single malt if you please. i missed so many staff dinners that spring.

My room-mate and manager of Dollar Mountain - Lea Bacos - giving me a lecture for dating Cathy Palm - his future step daughter with him marrying her mother whose other daughter was possibly marrying his buddy Les Outes - Area manager which would make Lea - Les' step father in law. Lea had 3 pictures of himself on the mantelpiece standing as proud father of different families in each. And HE'S A CANADIAN.

What a laugh - it could only be Sun Valley...gosh - 1968/69 - that's 45 years ago. Raichle Red Boots and Head Killy 215 Downhill skis in moguls that were absolutely fabulous. THAT WAS HOTDOGGING !

Oct 23, 2013 06:40 pm
 Posted by  superskier

Part of our job on The Patrol was- first ride up to look for skiers who had sneaked in without paying for a lift ticket very early before the lifts had started and would hide face down in the trees and half way up the mountain. I could see them on a sunny morning as any metal bits would shine in the sunlight and we were supposed to catch them up and then escort them out of the area. I confess I felt if they went to that much trouble - leave them to it - bless them - lying motionless - freezing their backsides for the better part of an hour. they deseerved to ski for free...though these days I don't think the management would condone such tolerance.

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