Although Jamie Pierre had just recently moved to Big Sky, the Bomb Snow Team was fortunate enough to spend some quality days on the mountain with him skiing, taking photos and eventually getting to know Jamie as the genuine fun-loving guy he was.
The above interview was shot only a couple months ago, and was made with the soul purpose of portraying the Jamie Pierre we knew to the rest of the ski-world. The real behind the scenes Jamie who just wanted to ski and have fun. A down to earth guy who valued what was best for his family. Someone who wanted a quiet place with less distractions, less people and more skiing.
It’s a damn shame we have to show this interview under the unfortunate circumstance that he is no longer with us. Our sincere hope is that at the very least, this interview will shed some light on a man who was often misunderstood for much of his career by those who never met him.
The Jamie we knew loved life, had a passion for going big and most importantly had a huge heart. Thanks for the good times and fond memories amigo. You will be greatly missed but always remembered.
The snowpack consisted of a layered structure with a depth of a little over 2 feet deep. There were about 8 inches of light powder sitting on top of 3 inches of loose faceted snow, which was on top of a “melt freeze” crust of varying thickness, which was sitting on top of 3/4 of a foot of large grainy snow left from the October storm. Essentially it was a melt crust sandwiched between two weak layers of unstable snowpack. Not only did the snowpack have a high suseptability to collapse, but the distance and scope of the potential avalanche was increased as well.
Who would have thought the first avalanche fatality of the season would be a professional skier, let alone The Legendary Jamie Pierre? That is the question we are left with after this tragedy. Details are still coming in, between Jamie’s riding companion and the fine work of the Utah Avalanche Center and Snowbird Resort Ski Patrol, most of the gaps in our understanding of the day’s events will be filled. However, there are so many more circumstances that we could never hope to understand and may end up being chalked up as one of the great mysteries of life.
What we do know is that Jamie Pierre was a beloved member of the ski community. He was a devoted family man, and loved his two little girls. He knew “there was more to live for in life than going big”, and despite any misconceptions — he was a safetey-conscious individual who respected the mountain as much as he loved hucking himself off of it. We can all take solace in the fact that he lived his life to the fullest and died doing something he loved. Most of us seldom get such an opportunity to be on the edge of glory, Matthew Jamie Pierre experienced more than we could have ever imagined or previously thought possible. His death is a terrible loss, and he will be missed.
We at The Ski Channel would like to express our sincerest condolences to the Pierre family and those closest to Jamie. Please enjoy this small video tribute to a man who was truly larger than life.
On November 13, 2011 our friend Jamie Pierre died in an avalanche while skiing in Utah. We will always remember Jamie as being an incredible professional skier, but more importantly as a father, husband and friend. He will be missed.
The way he inspired us was anything but conventional and for that we thank him.
Below, some of Pierre’s close friends remember him in their own words. If you have any memories, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Pete O’Brien – Cinematographer:
I have had some incredibly great memories skiing and filming with Jamie over the past 13 years. On so many occasions he’s left me standing there, both hands on my head with my jaw wide open in awe of the feat he had just pulled off.
About 10 years ago, in the beginning of December, we were hitting one of the practice kickers in Grizzly Gulch by the houses. It was Jamie, Sage, the Collins Brothers and Rick Wroblewski. Jamie was the last guy to hit the jump on the guinea pig round, and with all the boys looking up from the landing, he hit the kicker with more speed than anyone else, cocked his head back, grabbed both knees and brought around a double backflip right to his feet. He cleared everyone else’s bomb holes and landed in fresh powder. It was his first attempt at a double.
One of Jamie’s mantras was “Speed is your friend. If you send an air out to the apron, then the rocks aren’t a factor.”
To this day Jamie is the only person to make it over the Pyramid Gap Jump on both a snowboard and skis.
Jamie evolved to become one of the most well-known names in big mountain skiing. It was a lifelong goal that he had accomplished and he was very comfortable in that position. He had one of the biggest hearts I know of and he treated everyone with exceptional respect. He was far and away one of the most approachable professional athletes out there, extremely humble, down to earth and always looking out for the little guy. When introduced to you he would never forget your name.
My heart goes out to Amee, Clementine, and Royal
Julian Carr – Professional Skier:
Jamie Pierre opened up a world of impossibilities on his skis. I remember my heart rate increasing in anticipation for all of his TGR segments, especially “High Life”. When I finally had the opportunity to meet him, fittingly, it was on top of a cliff in the Hell Gate backcountry of Alta. He was very respectful of my space up there and the mental process involved. At the time, the cliff I was lining up was the biggest cliff I’d set up for, about an 80 footer. I aced it, he was yelling just like me afterward with stoke, then he asked if he could jump it too. Of course I said yes, he busted one of his signature mute grabs off of it and we were friends since. He was actually a much better skier than me and he is a much better skier than he is even in the air. I was very impressed with his kindness and love for the sport. What an incredible person with a heart of gold. You will be missed brother. Cheers Jamie.
Todd Jones – TGR Founder:
I recently got to hang out with Jamie, his wife and his kids up at the Yellowstone Club. I had my wife and two kids with me as well. It was so cool watching our kids play together and seeing Jamie be such an awesome Dad on and off the hill. I think one of my last visuals baked in my mind will be of Jamie in lift line in Montana, one kid on the back and his wife and other kid by his side. He had the biggest shit-eating grin on his face. He was truly happy. His search was complete. It was bigger than the grin he wore the day he hit the World Record cliff at the Ghee. That’s how I will remember Jamie.
Dash Longe – Professional Skier:
Jamie was a bad-ass skier that helped shape and push the sport for many years. He has been making what we all thought to be impossible, possible, since the beginning of the freeskiing era. I will never forget seeing his Wolverine Cirque line that won “line of the year” in person and realizing the sheer magnitude of what he was doing. What he dropped dwarfed anything his peers would hit. Jamie accomplished a long list of ‘firsts’ within the sport of skiing, paving the way for many people. I hope he is remembered for the fact that he took skiing beyond the next level and worked as hard as anyone in the game to be at the top of the sport.
Dustin Handley – TGR Associate Producer:
Jamie raised the bar and was a huge influence to many. Jamie was a true family man. I will never forget how happy Jamie was in Bulgaria when he indicated to the crew that he was going to propose to his future wife as soon as he returned to the States. I will always remember Jamie for his enthusiasm, tenacity, skill and passion for skiing and life.
Even before the big Hail Mary, the 255-foot leap from a Wyoming cliff in 2006, Jamie Pierre had been labelled “skiing’s most dangerous man” (Powder, February 2004). But Pierre was something of a study in incongruity—devout Christian, husband and father and hard-charging skier whose particular chi drove him to become one of skiing’s foremost airmen.
“He wasn’t in it just to get his photo taken,” said photographer Brent Benson of his friend Pierre, who was killed Sunday in an avalanche at Snowbird in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon.
“His skiing was all about honoring God,” Naomi Pierre, Jamie’s sister, told the AP today. “He was incredibly passionate about getting that word out to youth. So he did that through jumping off cliffs and skiing down dangerous chutes.”
While not one much for self promotion, Pierre was “by far the hardest working guy I ever shot with,” Benson said in an interview today with Powder.com. He added, “That’s what made him probably one of the top five most-published skiers out there.”
Pierre is survived by his wife, Amee, and their two children, Royal and Clementine, ages about 3 and 5, respectively. After 10-plus years in the Salt Lake area, the Pierres had recently relocated to Big Sky, Montana. It was a family trip to Hawaii that had brought Pierre back to Salt Lake this week, and fresh powder that drew him and his snowboard up Little Cottonwood Canyon for Sunday’s outing.
Today, in the aftermath of the accident, Pierre’s legacy and memory is reverberating around the ski world and beyond. Overwhelmed with grief, Benson, a Salt Lake-based ski photographer who befriended Pierre in the late ’90s, said he was up all night last night. At 11 p.m., he set about scanning and editing his catalog of images of Pierre. The resulting video slideshow—”I put it to AC/DC because that’s what Jamie would want,” he said—features 80-plus images spanning 10-plus years.
“He would ski from sun up to sun down, on the coldest days, no matter. Jamie was always skiing,” Benson said. “He’d just ski and ski and ski. He’d wear out photographers. He’d start with one, then get on the phone to find out who else was out there, then hook up with them.”
“Everyone in Little Cottonwood Canyon just can’t even believe the stuff he’s done over the years,” he added. “Not a lot of people know this, but he was a really good snowboarder and really good tele skier too—he did the Pyramid Gap on all three. He was also one of those persons who was sometimes misunderstood. He spoke his mind. And when he said something he meant it. But he always helped out everyone who needed help, and he was always into encouraging people. A lot of people have said this, but it’s true: He had a huge heart.”
Jamie leaves a beautiful family; Amee, Clementine 5 and Royal 2. A fund has been set up to help, where donations to the family will be gratefully accepted. See www.jamiepierre.com for more details.