Five people to fill his shoes

“The amount of passion that Jim had and what he committed to the sport, it’s going to take five people to fill his shoes,” says IFSA president Rob Greener. In addition to his role as FWT head judge, he also handled judges’ training and competition services — overseeing and supporting event development across the country.

The amount of passion that Jim had and what he committed to the sport, it’s going to take five people to fill his shoes.

–Rob Greener, IFSA president

He was also playing a big role in increasing the amount of competitions available for junior skiers. With up to 40 junior events slated for next season, Greener sees the IFSA Junior Series as one of the biggest voids created by Jim’s death. “We want to have five or six head judges next year that will be able to train, travel, and help out at the events,” Greener says, adding that they’re currently in the process of finalizing who those candidates will be.

Beyond the growth of junior freeskiing, the 2012/2013 anticipated merger between the Freeskiing World Tour and the Freeride World Tour is a realization of a long held vision of Jim’s: a true world tour, one in which Jim was slated to play a key judging roll. Although the details of the merger are yet to be released, negotiations seem to be on track for a six-stop tour in North America and Europe, where top athletes from both tours will compete in one series. This merger would represent the highest level, most prolific big mountain competition series ever organized.

“In hindsight, after February 19, moving into our next FWT event, it was like, ‘How is it going to feel, what’s it going be like?’ There was definitely some uncertainty there,” says FWT Director of Competition Bryan Barlow. “The first event that we went to was Snowbird, and everybody really pulled together despite the mourning that was going on, and celebrated the passion that Jim had for freeskiing, and how he enhanced peoples’ skiing and experiences at the events.”

As the next chapter of competitive big mountain skiing is written, Barlow acknowledges the roll that Jim played in getting to this point, and contemplates how the tour will go on without him. “Right now we’re mapping out what Jim Jack’s roll would have been this winter with the FWT merger, and then we’ll try to break it up as we can and give (the responsibility) to the right person,” says Barlow. “Unifying the tours and taking the sport to the next level was his vision, and he would be very happy right now with the direction we are going.”

At the end of the contest day — when the scorecards and award ceremonies were in the past — Jim was that familiar face that you’d see in a foreign landscape and immediately feel at home. His beard, his smile, his fun loving and goofy attitude, those things were comforting whether you’d met him once or known him for years.

From pre-dawn gondola rides in Canada to late-night dance parties in Argentina, Jim had a relentless enthusiasm for the sport, and for life. While the man with three first names might be gone, the family that
he nurtured will carry his torch on, lighting it early in the morning and burning it late into the night.

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