This champion freeskier teen keeps his eye on the prize as he double flips and spins through the winter skies.
Jack Severson says he fell into freeskiing because he wasn’t very good at anything else on skis. But in the winter sports mecca of Park City, that simply meant Jack had a lot of world-class competition on the slopes. Turns out Jack, who has been downhill skiing since he could walk and racing and ski jumping since he was 8 years old, just happened to be better at freeskiing.
Now 13, the two-time junior national freeskier champion found his stride with the creative flips, big air and box-and-rail obstacles that define freestyle and slopestyle skiing. “Everyone usually spins [on the obstacles] as their first trick. I did a backflip,” recalls Jack. “When I think of freeskiing, it makes me feel like I can make my creative side wild, and I don’t have to care about what others think. I just do what I love.”
It’s no surprise—freeskiing is in his blood. Dad, Kris, was a Nordic ski jumper on the U.S. Ski Team who medaled in the Junior Olympics three consecutive years in the 1980s. Mom, Tara, skied and coached moguls on a regional level. Little brother, Zane, 10, is also an up-and-coming freeskier. However, being well rounded is important to the Severson family. Jack rarely devotes more than 13 hours a week to his freeskiing training, taking to the field with his middle school football team as well.
The teen recently grabbed the silver medal in slopestyle out of 79 competitors his age at the 2012 USASA National Ski Championship in Copper Mountain, Colo. and snagged the 2012 USSA Junior Nationals freestyle aerials in his age group. His signature winning tricks? A double backflip and a Misty 720, essentially one front flip with two spins thrown in. Jack was one of only half a dozen youth selected to join the U.S. Ski Team earlier this year at Project Gold, an invitation-only training session in Mammoth, Calif. His most memorable win was his first USSA Junior National freestyle aerial competition in Waterville Valley in 2010, where despite stiff competition and not considering himself a serious medal contender, he won first place in his age group.
Jack credits an intense desire to better himself as motivation to succeed. “I always want to be the best, try new tricks and keep getting better and better.” His hero is X Games champion and slopestyle shredder Bobby Brown, but he knows the road is long if he wants to achieve his ultimate dream of competing in the Olympics and X Games. “All the little competitions and the little skills you need to learn add up to the big goal,” he says.
Training hours: 10 hours a week in the winter, 13 hours a week in the summer, plus dry land training
Trick of the trade: He aspires to pull off a Double Misty 1440, which is two flips and four spins
Biggest jump: 80-foot gap
Chill zone: Park City Mountain Resort
Words of Wisdom
"My advice is not to be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. And never, ever give up on anything."