Colourful, cuddly monsters enticing young kids to come outside and play in the snow. Freeriding pre-teens competing in front of judges for international fame and fortune. Big-time action photographers showing their “stuff” in front of thousands of cheering spectators. If you’re in the snowsports business and looking for somebody to help you with creative event thinking, then look no further. Jack Turner is your man…
Entertainer, storyteller, adventurer — and irrepressible mountain jester — Colorado’s Jack Turner is the quintessential outside-the-box thinker. Indeed, an argument could be made that the man is congenitally incapable of staying inside-the-box in the first place.
Recently I had the pleasure of spending some time with the famed American iconoclast. On a long-weekend “business” visit to Whistler, Turner joined fellow industry outlaw, Doug Perry and I for a day of playing on the mountain. “It’s been 15 years since I last donned a pair of skis, but my son, John, is hooked,” the snowboard aficionado told us over breakfast. “Who would have thought that an ol’ boardhead would take up skiing to get in touch with his 15-year-old son...”
And Perry and I both made sure his first experience back on two planks was an energetic one. From non-stop runs down Whistler Mountain’s Redline to long hikes into Harmony Bowl, we didn’t let up on Turner all day. But he didn’t flinch once. Indeed — his 15-year hiatus from skiing barely showed. And his enthusiasm, as always, was infectious.
Whether engaging a stranger in discussion on a chairlift ride, or stopping a mom and her kids struggling with their gear for a candid camera shot (and then helping them carry their stuff to the racks), Turner managed to carry on some seriously sophisticated consumer research — while still enjoying his skiing experience to the maximum.
“What an amazing day this is,” he kept saying, a trademark grin splashed across his face. “What an amazing sport we have.” And then, more soberly: “Sometimes I worry that we are getting weak at celebrating what really makes skiing and riding so special — it’s not real estate, or lifts, or even a place as epic as Whistler. A kid riding a mom-and-pop area in Wisconsin is every bit as much a skier as an X-Games athlete.”
Turner comes from one of my favourite mountain places in the whole world — Durango Colorado. Smack up against the fabled Four-Corners — that magical piece of high-country real estate where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico converge — the former ranching town is a self-propelled funhog’s paradise. Climbing, mountain biking, skiing, touring — it’s all at one’s fingertips. And it’s functioned as Turner’s spiritual touchstone since he was knee-high to tumbleweed. For unlike so many newcomers to the area, he’s no Johnny-come-lately. His family settled there five generations ago.