Avalanche Kills Minnesota-Born Extreme Skier
MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) – As a boy, he learned to ski at Bloomington’s Hyland Hills, and after years of jumping off cliffs and riding in deep powder as a professional skier, he died Sunday in the snow.
After graduating high school, Jamie Pierre followed his heart to the snow-capped mountains of the American Rockies. Quickly, he became one of the world’s greatest extreme.
Todd Isberner, a Pierre family friend, said Pierre was a really well known in the extreme skiing community.
“He was one of the most liked professional skiers,” Isberner said.
At age 38, Pierre died while snowboarding near Utah’s Snowbird resort.
Pierre and a friend were out for an early season snowboard run in the heavy snowpack near Gad Valley when the avalanche took them. They had entered in the backcountry of Snowbird, which isn’t set to open for public skiing until Nov. 19. Because of that, no avalanche control had been done.
The Utah Avalanche Control Center had put out warnings throughout the weekend due to the dangerous conditions at the upper elevations. Because new snow had fallen atop a base left over from October snowfall, forecasters had placed avalanche conditions above the 9,500 foot elevations as “considerable.”
To say that Jamie Pierre was well-known and well-liked is no exaggeration. Few professional skiers have more endorsements, magazine shoots or skiing films to their names.
“I think people think that Jamie jumping off cliffs is a risk taker, and you’d have to be. But never without care, he was never careless,” Isberne said. “He was one of the most studied professional extreme skiers, and he knew what he was doing.”
What made Pierre so famous throughout the skiing world were his incredible runs through deep powder and off steep cliffs. His 2006 world record jump, a vertical drop of 255 feet, is still a YouTube sensation. The video of the feat has been seen by 1.8 million viewers.
Rick Halverson, another family friend, said, “All of his jumps were calculated. He didn’t just go out and jump off a cliff, he studied it four to five years before he did the jump.”
Pierre was in high demand for photo shoots and promotional videos, but his friends said that he had recently traded the risk of the sport for fatherhood. Pierre leaves behind a wife and two young children.
“[Pierre] was a deeply dedicated Christian man, outspoken about his faith,” Isberne said. “I know that would be the most important thing he’d want people to know.”
Pierre had recently moved his family to Big Sky, Mont. where he was to begin work as a spokesperson for three major ski resorts. Unfortunately, he had no life insurance at the time of his death. Family and friends have set up a memorial fund to help care for his wife and children.
Donations can be made through the Jamie Pierre Memorial Fund at any US Bank or by calling 1-800-USBANKS.