By Susan Schnier September 2005
A shy kid from rural
In a line that regularly draws Shane McConkey, Kent Kreitler, Aaron McGovern and more, everyone at Squaw knows Jesse as the blond dreadlocked telemarker who’s out everyday screaming down the gnarliest lines on an oversized ski like Volant’s Spatula, or his new favorite, Volkl’s 193 split tail Sanouk.
What inspires Jesse to be at the head of the line every day? “Fresh tracks,” he says. “And because I like beating everyone else,” he adds with a smile. “It just feels very special when you get the first chair, and there are 100 people behind you. You can go anywhere you want.”
Home-schooled by his parents in
“There was a fenced-off cliff,” he adds. “We got last chair at 4 p.m., jumped it, and sped off before patrol did their sweep.” From then on, Jesse was hooked on the turn and the speed. Now Jesse is one of the most dedicated telemarkers on the hill. Missing only 14 days over the season, Jesse spent over 140 days last year focusing on Squaw’s most technical lines.
“Turns and fluidity are my priority,” says Jesse. “This year I was focused on turning because I wanted to ski spines. I like to ski fast, but I don’t like sacrificing control and fluidity for speed.”
A list of Jesse’s idols includes many of the names that wind up just behind in line for KT-22, including big-name alpine freeskiers like Shane McConkey and Scott Gaffney and lesser known heroes like Sheryl Varner, a Squaw legend known for setting the pace for getting in line at KT, as well as Hansi and Toni Standteiner.
Though most of his ski heroes lock their heels, Jesse doesn’t plan to switch over to alpine until he knees force him. “I don’t see myself as having lesser goals or expectations because I telemark,” he explains. “I do it because it’s harder.”
In the off-season, Jesse works as an apprentice blacksmith, crafting handrails and decorative ironwork. When Jesse’s not forging iron, he rides his road bike around 200 miles each week and just finished
If you want to spot Jesse this year, look for the fastest and smoothest telemarker on the hill, but the telltale dreads of six years are gone. Now Jesse has a mohawk, and his dreads hang in a bundle from the wind chime outside his door. “I grew them because my dad didn’t like them,” Jesse says. “But I shaved them because people kept asking me for pot.”