In Spyder's ad campaign, Jamie Burge is freeskiing's High Priestess. But to a group of third graders in St. Joseph, Missouri, the 24-year-old is simply the year's Coolest Show-and-Tell. "One kid asked if I've ever jumped over a plane," recalls Burge of the recent trip to her eight-year-old cousin's classroom. "I said, 'No, but that's a good idea! It could be done!' They were stoked."
In three short seasons, Burge's lesser stunts -- back-flipping off Squaw's Palisades, jumping over trains at Donner Pass and Rainbow Lodge, launching road gaps, going huge in the halfpipe -- have put her in skiing's limelight. But unlike some of her peers, the low-key Californian doesn't consider being a pro freeskier a divine right. "I'm just lucky," says Burge, who is working her way through her undergraduate degree by waitressing at a Northstar-at-Tahoe restaurant. "I met up with the right people at the right time."Burge's parents put her on skis at Northstar when she was two, but the diminutive blond had no formal training until she started racing at 17. "I've always been a little daredevil," she says. "When I was 12, I was doing back scratchers and daffies and spread eagles. I've always felt like I could keep up with the guys no problem. I would just stay on their tails and do whatever they did."
These days, Burge's favorite haunts are halfpipes and big, cliffy steeps. Her goals: go bigger, go faster, learn new jib tricks, and finish her education so she can become a physical therapist -- a fitting career goal, given the punishment she's taken as a skier. "Actually, I've been pretty lucky with injuries," she says. "I broke my nose two years ago -- I went off a rock at Squaw and bashed my knee into my face. Ugh. That hurt. I separated my shoulder at a stupid skiercross, and that killed, too. At another skiercross, I got a hole bashed into my shin. Literally."
Still, she's got a woman's good sense. "I do hold back when I don't feel like I can do something," she says. "Chicks can get away with that stuff. Guys just go for it no matter what."
Born: December 17, 1976
Skis At: Northstar, Squaw, and Mammoth, California
Workout: Skis daily. Gym (40 minutes cardio, 35 strength) five days a week. Sit-ups galore. Techno dancing late night.
Monster Huck: Once fell off a chairlift trying to unbuckle her boots. "I forgot to grab onto the back of the seat. I just leaned over and kept on leaning..."
Results: Gravity Games quarterpipe: third (1999); North American Freeskiing Championships: first (1999, 1998), second (1997); Lord of the Boards skiercross series: second (1998, 1997), first (1997); Squaw Valley Spring Jam big air: first (1998); Bear Mountain Superfly slopestyle: first (1998).
Disclaimer: "I don't cook, I don't clean."