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