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As program director and head coach for the Jackson Hole Snowboard Team, my role is to work with the best up-and-coming snowboarders in Jackson Hole. Since the first JHSM issue, released in winter 2005, 10 of the 13 riders featured in the Dropping Next column have been current or former members of the JH Snowboard Team. Many of whom I’ve had the pleasure to write about in these pages. This year I’m honored and excited to continue the tradition by adding Jimmy Hessler’s name to that distinguished list of rising shred stars.
I’ve known Jimmy for almost half of his 16 years and there’s one thing that I’m sure of: homeboy is RAD! His personality is an amalgamation of confidence, sarcasm and quick-witted humor that leaves everyone laughing their asses off while simultaneously wondering if he’s laughing with them, or at them. He also has an innate ability to turn any mundane situation into a borderline offensive freestyle rap. (I wouldn’t quit your day job just yet, Jimmy.)
Jimmy is one those guys who seems to be naturally gifted at everything he tries (barring rap, of course). More specifically snowboarding, skateboarding and soccer currently command most of his attention, with girls acquiring a greater market share by the day. Although, Jimmy admits: “I’ve never been on a real date with just one girl before. I’ve never really found that one girl that I want to spend my money on.”
I don’t believe in the idea that success comes strictly from natural talent. In order to stand apart from the crowd in any sport you have to stay committed and work hard, something Jimmy’s not afraid to do. His work ethic is abundantly clear when looking at his past USASA contest results. Since 2007, Jimmy has placed in the top five at more than 70 percent of the 43 halfpipe, slopestyle and boardercross events he’s entered. He also earned the “Prince of the Wasatch” overall title in both 2011 and 2012 at the King of the Wasatch event in Park City, UT.
Some of Jimmy’s success stems from being the youngest of four brothers, all of who are competitive snowboarders. Jimmy describes his most memorable shred days as “back when all my brothers were on the [Jackson Hole] snowboard team. When we were pushing each other every day.”
In August 2012, Jimmy spent three weeks shredding hard at SASS Global Travel (SGT) in Bariloche, Argentina. His experience included everything from getting his AIARE level 1 avalanche certification, competing in a pro big air contest, riding steep lines and deep pow, to hitting huge backcountry jumps, hucking double corks and crushing jib sessions. Jimmy got to see firsthand just how much time and effort goes into “getting the shot” as he put in long days in order to build a better portfolio. A lesson not many athletes his age experience, but one that carries a lot of weight as he becomes more involved in the snowboard industry.
Something I admire about Jimmy is that the quest for sponsorship has never been an overbearing goal of his. Instead, becoming a proficient snowboarder takes main stage. When I asked why sponsorship is now more important than in the past, Jimmy told me, “It’s the next step. Once you’re sponsored, you’re part of the greater snowboard world where doors open up to new opportunities such as more travel and different competitions.” I was impressed with his answer, especially in a time when so many kids are just out to get some free gear.
“Tugboat,” as he’s known in some circles, is heading into the 2012/2013 season with plans to continue competing in halfpipe and slopestyle on a national level. He also plans to branch out into big mountain freeride events. Ultimately, Jimmy shares the same dream of so many Jackson shreds: to get up to Alaska and clock some heli time. As for now, until he finds that “one girl” I guess he’ll just have to keep going out with numerous ladies who pick up the check.