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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Kai Jones: The Veteran Freeskiing Daredevil’s Remarkable Journey

Jackson Hole, Wyo. — Let’s talk about a young buck named Kai Jones, a 14-year-old pro adventurer on skis, who’s got more guts than a bull in a rodeo. 

This kid who is also known as kai veteran freeskiing daredevil got tales that’ll make your jaw drop, and it all started when he was a mere 11-year-old sixth-grader.

A Skiing Legacy and a Determined Youngster

Back in the day, Kai’s biggest dream was prepping for his first leap off a mean, rugged, 35-foot monster cliff in the wild Wyoming backcountry, known affectionately as “Smart Bastard.” 

Imagine butterflies the size of pterodactyls in his stomach! He’d peer over the edge, feeling the intimidation crawl up his spine, but Kai’s got grit, my friends. He’d close those eyes, picture the approach he’d planned, and then, bam! Eyes wide open, he’d go for it. And you know what? It worked out every time because he put in the sweat and tears to study the game.

Embracing the Risk

Picture this: Kai takes flight, soaring through the sky for three heart-pounding seconds. Then, BAM! He nails the landing, a splash of snow enveloping his pint-sized frame. Cameras rolling, he emerges from the snowy cloud, slicing buttery turns down that crazy-steep slope under the famous rocky precipice.

With a heart still racing, he whips out his phone, calls up his mom, Shelly, and yelps, “I just stomped it, Mom!”

Shelly, a true ski enthusiast herself, couldn’t be prouder. “I congratulated him,” she said, playfully. “We’re a ski family, after all.”

A Rising Star in the World of Freeskiing

That epic moment wasn’t just a thrill for the Jones family; it was Kai’s ticket to stardom. They turned that breathtaking feat into Kai’s big-screen debut, and boy, did it make waves on YouTube, racking up over three million views. A winter sports prodigy had been born, fearlessly conquering the untamed wilderness.

Fast forward a few months, and Kai, who practically had skis on his feet since he was in diapers, snagged the International Freeskiers Association’s North American championship for skiers under 12. 

Then, the sponsorship deals started rolling in from Red Bull and Atomic Skis. Kai was now a preteen sensation, signing autographs, and rubbing shoulders with the bigwigs of big mountain skiing. All this while he still played with Legos on the side.

As Kai puts it, “Being famous is cool, for sure,” with a mischievous grin. “But you gotta stay humble and be a good role model.”

An Evolution in Extreme Sports

Kai’s meteoric rise in the skiing world may sound like a fairy tale, but it’s a tale as old as time, with a modern twist. You see, skiing daredevils have been making a name for themselves since the ’70s, but back then, it took ages to build that legendary status. Those adrenaline-pumping films only dropped a few times a year, and lugging those clunky cameras up the mountains was no joke.

Now, we’re in the era of drones, high-tech video wizardry, and the magic of social media. Kai can pull off a gravity-defying double backflip at sunrise, and by lunch, his 45,000 Instagram fans are sharing that clip around the globe. Todd Jones, Kai’s dad and a former pro skier himself, gets it. He co-founded Teton Gravity Research back in ’95 and knows firsthand how times have changed.

The Father-Son Connection

But hold on, there’s more to this story. Kai’s been skiing with his old man since he was seven, cutting epic lines on snowy peaks across North America. Some folks used to say he only got where he is because of his dad’s legacy. Kai laughs that off these days, saying, “I credit my dad with everything, but I’ve worked my butt off every single day.”

Todd chimes in, grinning, “Sure, I’ve helped, but the kid’s put in the hours. The proof’s in the pudding.”

Facing the Perceived Danger

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – the danger. I mean, come on, soaring off mammoth cliffs and all that, it sounds risky, doesn’t it? Especially when Kai admits, “I crash a lot.” But his mom, Shelly, isn’t too worried. She knows there’s a whole lot of prep that goes into it, long before Kai takes that daring leap.

And remember when Kai was eight, he decided to ski off the roof of their house, just for kicks? Shelly was there, and she couldn’t help but be impressed when he stuck the landing on an icy snow drift. “He was never afraid to catch air,” she says with a chuckle.

An Uncertain Future, But Boundless Potential

Now, as for Kai’s future, it’s a bit of a wild card. He’s a high school freshman at the Picabo Street Academy in Utah, a private school with a flexible, virtual model that’s perfect for young athletes like him. Freeriding or freeskiing might not be an Olympic sport yet, but Kai’s got options. College film programs, perhaps? Todd Jones jokes that maybe this whole journey is just about building a killer college resume.

Dreaming Big and Staying Grounded

But here’s the thing, Kai’s not tying himself down with grand plans. One minute, he’s saying he might quit skiing in three years if it’s not fun anymore. The next, he’s dreaming of joining the legends of the sport, like Tanner Hall, who started making waves at the Winter X Games at just 17.

Reaching out to Tanner Hall, now 37 and still kicking it, he calls Kai’s journey “refreshing.” But he also knows the stakes are higher these days, with social media’s watchful eye. “It’s a whole lot harder now,” he says, reminiscing about the party days of old. “You can’t do that anymore. I’d win a competition and then spend 10 percent of my earnings on drinks that night.”

So, there you have it, folks. Kai Jones, the 14-year-old ski sensation, taking on the world, one daring leap at a time. And in the midst of the celebrity and the adventure, he’s got one piece of advice for everyone he meets: “Have fun, OK?”

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