Kai Jones is not your average teenager. At 13, his ski resume is stacked higher than the snowy mountains that surround his home, including winning the North American Junior Freeride tour when he was just 11-years-old. More importantly, Kai has ridden more notable descents around Wyoming’s legendary Grand Tetons than a lot of skiers twice his age. And when he’s not skiing, Kai is an absolute dare-devil riding mountain bikes down the same slopes in the summer. But it’s hardly a surprise. Riding down these mountains is in Kai’s blood. His uncle Jeremy Jones is one of the greatest snowboard freeriders of all time, and Jeremy’s two brothers (including Kai’s dad, Todd Jones) were not far behind. The Jones Brothers formed the action sports film company Teton Gravity Research, so Kai grew up “on set” while they were making epic films about skiing, mountain biking and surfing. So it made sense that Kai would follow in their footsteps…but just how far he’s taken it has blown everyone away. He’s already starting to star in the TGR films, and his sections are blowing people’s minds. Through it all, Kai remains grounded and dedicated to progressing the sport and protecting the environment. “I just want to help inspire others to get out into nature and have fun,” says Kai. “If you’re not into anything already, I recommend just trying a new sport and before long you’ll be hooked and won’t even want to waste time on the phone.”
In my family, we just went skiing all the time. My parents started to take me when I was two years old. I remember when I was 4 and I was skiing with my dad on a powder day. We stopped and it was so quiet and cool. The snow felt so good. I was hooked at that point.
I like all aspects of it. I love being with my friends. I love being outdoors, standing on mountains, sliding down snow, taking air. It’s just freedom for me.
Well, I grew up on my dad's movies, so all the Teton Gravity Research movies are my favorite. But I watch a lot of movies, and have lots of favorites. They give me inspiration to go out and try new stuff.
I do a ton of visualization. Sometimes I will study something for weeks. I try to imagine myself doing it. Before I drop in I do more visualization work. I try not to do things that I am not comfortable with or that are out of my ability. It is about having fun. Staying in that space keeps it fun.
My biggest fear is injuring myself or getting caught in an avalanche, but I train and practice so much that I'm well prepared for the things I try. Yes, I get nervous, but not scared.
(Question submitted by Mary Dalby California)
I've been skiing since I was 2 years old and my best trick is a double rodeo 1080 (which is basically two flips and a 360).
I do a ton of visualization. Sometimes I will study something for weeks. I try to imagine myself doing it. Before I drop in, I do more visualization work. I try not to do things that I am not comfortable with or that are out of my ability. It is all about having fun, so it’s important to stay in that space that keeps it fun.
Part of courage is believing in yourself. But it's easier to believe in yourself when you know you've ready. If you're scared, you might not be ready. Fear is there to keep you safe. So take the time practicing, preparing and learning before you send it. It's okay to be a bit nervous the first time, but if you're scared, that's a sign you should prepare yourself a little more.
Yes, now that you've got the confidence from the tramp board, you're ready to send it. Check out my How To on backflips coming up for a few more tips.
(Question submitted by Gavin from Massachusetts)
I've pretty much been skiing my whole life (since age 2), but I probably got into the powder around age 4. More important than age is having the right skis for it. you want something that small and wide, for staying on top of the powder. I use Atomic Ben Chetler's, which are great for powder.
(Question submitted by Jaron from Utah)
Once you're getting into doing jumps and tricks, the first thing to do is work your way through all the various grabs. When you've got that dialed, progress to a 180, then a 360, then a 540. If you've got 540 dialed, you're ready to start backflips, then move to things like a cork 720 and more advanced stuff. But really, start with the grabs, then work your way up through the spins. The next will always seem pretty natural when you're ready for it.
(Question submitted by Isaac from Utah)
First of all, make sure you have a good jump with a soft powder landing. Bend your legs when you launch and use the energy from that bend to power your rotation (the more you tuck, the faster you spin). Also, push your hips forward as you spin. Look backwards and try to spot your landing, and then just stomp it. I do a lot of training and preparing for something like this, so I feel pretty confident before I try something new. If you're feeling scared, you might not be ready yet. Trampolines and tramp-boards are a great way to get used to the rotation and build your confidence.
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