Featured Picture: Courtesy Powder Journal
September 26, 2023, would have been Dr. Robb Gaffney’s 53rd birthday. Robb handed away at his dwelling in Tahoe, CA, surrounded by family members on September 22 after a heroic four-year battle with most cancers. Our deepest condolences exit to his family and friends throughout this time.
Robb was nothing in need of a pioneering icon on the earth of freeskiing. Alongside his brother, Scott, he skied among the most daunting traces at Palisades Tahoe (previously Squaw Valley), penned the legendary ebook “Squallywood,” co-created the sport of G.N.A.R. (Gaffney’s Numerical Evaluation of Radness) with Shane McConkey, and was a key a part of historic ski movies equivalent to “1999,” “Immersion” and “Partitions of Freedom.”
Robb grew up in New York State’s Adirondack mountains, creating an affinity for the Tahoe space over time as his household went on many holidays out West. Whereas learning pre-med on the College of Colorado Boulder, Robb and Scott would take highway journeys again to Tahoe, and it wasn’t lengthy till he moved on the market after commencement. He bagged groceries and labored within the mountain’s race companies whereas snowboarding among the most rowdy in-bounds traces on earth. Like everybody again then, he did it on 200 cm skis with a smile on his face. (Subsequent time you’re complaining about the way you want a tune, simply take into consideration that). Two years and plenty of epic clips and contours later, he migrated to Denver to complete medical college, the place he tore up Arapahoe Basin, Berthoud Go and in all places in between. Then it was off to UC Davis for a four-year psychiatric residency. Robb would usually head as much as Tahoe and movie ski segments throughout his brief breaks from medical college.
Whereas his dazzling snowboarding was and nonetheless stays mind-melting and attention-grabbing, it was his persona that made Robb the legend that we keep in mind. He was, by all accounts, inclusive and caring, wanting everybody to get a chunk of the enjoyment he and his pals skilled on skis. He additionally acknowledged the dangers, and whereas most skiers pushed the boundaries with out second guessing, Robb spoke publicly on NBC and gave Ted talks on the significance of longevity and dwelling by way of the hazards of motion sports activities. Most just lately, he overtly wrote about his battle with most cancers on CaringBridge and Instagram, opening the door for numerous others to share and discover peace within the ache they expertise. Time and time once more, his actions confirmed that he cared deeply for others.
His philosophy of enjoyable and liberation rings true at this time, because the world appears to constantly take itself increasingly critically. In his closing speech from the 2011 G.N.A.R. film, Gaffney aptly says, “My cause for getting concerned is that I’m a agency believer that our world wants to remain open. Issues like G.N.A.R, issues that push the boundaries, they should exist… All the pieces within the [terrain] park, all the things in Massive Mountain, all the things within the race scene is fairly darn severe nowadays as a result of all people is getting so good at what they do… Bringing enjoyable again into snowboarding is a extremely necessary factor.”
Despite the fact that the phrases are effectively over a decade previous, there’s nonetheless simply as a lot fact in them. Take the snowboarding critically, however by no means take your self too critically; that appears to be the recipe that Robb, Scott, Shane, and plenty of others lived by, and it’s a recipe that we will all profit from as we share this neighborhood and sport with the subsequent technology. Whether or not it’s medical college or the highest of a stomach-dropping line, all the time give it your finest with a smile in your face. That appears to be how Robb lived.
In fact, Robb was rather more than an unimaginable skier. He was an incredible instance of what a human may be. Selfless, adventurous, and passionate. His legacy is, in each sense, a seamless thread—one we stock on with each line we ski, each pole whack we throw and each smile we share whereas spending time on the hill. Robb Gaffney helped convey the enjoyable again into snowboarding, and it’s our job to maintain it right here! Thanks, Robb, and thanks to our pals at Powder Journal for the stellar time capsule of photographs that present Robb in his factor ❤️
Robb is survived by his spouse, Andrea, and his youngsters, Noah and Kate. In the event you’d like to assist financially contribute to the prices of Robb’s medical remedy, a pal of the household has arrange a GoFundMe.