January 29, 2006
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP Press Release)—A Utah skier says he has set a world-record cliff jump at the Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming, dropping 255 vertical feet off the back of Fred's Mountain.
Jamie Pierre, 32, of Salt Lake City, said Friday he made his record-breaking jump on Wednesday as a way to spread the Christian word. He has previously dropped 180 feet and said he had been calculating this jump and waiting for perfect conditions for years.
"It wasn't some yahoo stunt, Pierre said. "I chose to do it so it would open up doors so I could witness my faith in Christianity.
Pierre said he had evaluated the jump for at least seven years before determining that his ability and conditions were right. Teton Gravity Research, a company that specializes in filming radical ski feats, measured the distance from the cornice to the landing hole with a range-finder to confirm the world record, he said.
The previous world record was set by Paul Ahern of New Zealand, who jumped 225 feet in 1995, according to an article in Skiing Magazine that mentions Pierre's jumping exploits.
Five photographers and three cinema shooters recorded the event, said Josh Nielsen of Teton Gravity Research.
"It was a really, really heavy and intense experience for all of us, Nielsen said.
He said Pierre managed the event and that the others were "kind of along for the ride.
Observers were solemn before the jump, Nielsen said, adding that Pierre said a prayer before taking off and clocked four full seconds of air time.[pagebreak]About 100 feet into the jump, Nielsen said Pierre couldn't keep his skis under him and went upside down. He landed headfirst and blew a hole 6 feet deep into the snow.
Nielsen said a photographer rushed in and dug Pierre out of the snow.
"Jamie pretty much walked away with a cut lip, he said.
Pierre said he was lucky to be alive.
Pierre said he landed in the perfect spot.
"I hit the nail on the head, he said. "The fact that I came out unscathed and landed where I planned — faith played a role in it.
Pierre said he took grief from his wife and parents for his jump. He was born in Minnesota and moved first to Crested Butte, Colo., and then to Salt Lake City to ski.
Pierre works with his father as a custom furniture maker and for a lawn irrigation business.
Susie Barnett-Bushong, spokeswoman for Grand Targhee, warned anyone against trying to duplicate Pierre's jump.
"This is nothing that an average recreational skier or snowboarder should consider doing, she said Friday. Even for elite skiers, she said, "we would never recommend anybody try this.
In January 2005, skier Brent "Newt Newton died after jumping off a 50-foot cliff at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Paul Ruff, a former world-record holder with a cliff jump of 110 vertical feet, died in 1993 on a 160-foot attempt.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press