Have you ever wondered what it’s like going down a mountain on a chair at incredibly high rates of speed? Well, we’re going to show you.
Let’s say you’ve skied, snowboarded, slalomed, snowkited and freestyled until you’re blue in the face. You’re looking for something new, something daring, something even many snow sport enthusiasts have never heard of.
Well, we’ve got something for you: jack jumping.
Also, known as skibock in Europe (that actually sounds cooler), jack jumping is simply skiing down a slope on a seat attached to a single (often homemade) ski.
What’s even more amazing is this sport has been going on for 4 decades. Outside magazine has a terrific piece this month on the sport and everything you need to know about it. The article is pegged to the Jack Jump World Championships, which have been held in March for the last 37 years on Mount Snow in Vermont.
“Competitors race down a dual slalom course, side by side,” Outside explains. “They’re not racing one another—they’re racing the clock. After a racer goes down one side, they then race down the other. The best combined time wins the championship.”
After a racer goes down one side, they then race down the other. The best combined time wins the championship.
Jack jumping began as a homespun folk tradition unique to Vermont.
According to Outside, the sport has been handed down among the farm folk of Vermont for at least two centuries, since the mid-1800s. The early jack jumpers used a barrel stave in lieu of a ski. Loggers back in the day would use jack jumpers to go down a mountain after a hard day of sawing. It’s actually genius. After a long day of cutting down trees, who has the strength to walk down a mountain?
Rigs are also highly personalized, with nicknames, local colors, and other highly personal flourishes. There’s lots of trash talking in the local patois.
“But don’t be fooled by the fine craftsmanship: the skis on these things are dumpster-salvaged junkers — yard sale scores at best — and their graphics (read: brand names) are hidden beneath layers of sloppily applied spray paint (read: another flip of the bird),” Outside writes.
Nothing apparently, compares to a great jack jump, at least according to Outside, which described the adrenaline rush after a great run.
“Everyone is grinning that mindless grin—the grin that appears after piddling thoughts have been scoured from consciousness by pure contact with pure elements.”