By Doug Hare EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Jack Lovely’s earliest memories of skiing are lapping the Derringer lift in Moonlight Basin with his parents and siblings. Now, at just 17, he has moved on to more difficult terrain and picked up some sponsors along the way, including Giro, The North Face and Faction Skis.
Born and raised in McLeod, Montana, Lovely is currently pursuing his High School Equivalency Degree and a private pilot’s license. EBS recently sat down with the precocious athlete to discuss his aspirations in the world of winter sports, his love of flying on the slopes and in the sky, and how to stomp landings on the steep stuff.
EBS: You have had some success in freeride tournaments in the past few seasons. But tell me about your progression as a winter athlete. Did you grow up racing? Did you train with the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation’s freeride team as a youngster?
J.L.: As soon as my family moved to Big Sky, my sister and I were sent straight into the Buddy Werner race program. I raced for two seasons and then transferred to the freeride team for a season. After that, my father took over and started to coach my sister and me.
EBS: You are currently an ambassador for Big Sky Resort. How did that opportunity arise?
J.L.: I pretty much owe the opportunity to my sister, Maria. She started shooting with local photographers and videographers including Ryan Turner, Colton Stiffler and Chris Kamman. She brought me along on some of her shoots and it took off from there.
EBS: Who have been the most influential people in your life with regards to developing a passion for winter sports and being in the mountains?
J.L.: By far the most influential person for developing a love of the mountains has been my father.
EBS: Can you tell me a little bit more about your dad?
J.L.: My father and I are into most of the same things, and if we aren’t then usually we get the other interested. He is one of the most talented and athletic people I know. He taught me how to ski, ride bicycles and so much more. When I was seven he taught my sister and I to [spin a] 360. In seventh grade, he picked me up after basketball and he swished a three after not touching a ball since sixth grade practices. He used to lead me down the most technical bike trails, up steep climbs on dirt bikes, through tight trees on snowmobiles and so many other adventures. Possibly the most important thing he taught me was to work on and fix all of my outdoor toys because we are very good at breaking things. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without him in my life.
EBS: What are your goals for this winter season as a winter athlete?
J.L.: As far as winter goals go, I am submitting an entry in a Quiksilver competition and hoping to place. I’m also working to reach more people through vlogging so that people can follow my Youtube channel to keep up to date with my winter adventures.
EBS: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received about improving your skiing ability or technique?
J.L.: Arguably the most important piece of advice I’ve been given was from Cooper Raasch. He told me to land using four-point landings. At the time I had been hitting cliffs and landing straight up and down using just my legs. The four-point landing technique is to land with your poles making contact as you come back to the snow, keeping your body further forward on the tongues of your boots.
EBS: How did you decide to pursue your pilot’s license?
J.L.: Before my family moved to Big Sky we were based a half hour south of Big Timber in McLeod, Montana. My father had started an outfitting business and bought a plane and learned to fly to spot game—elk, deer, etc. I was very young when he took me up in his tiny two-seater experimental and when he pulled back I won’t ever forget the feeling. It was unparalleled to anything I’d ever felt before. Between skis, bicycles and everything else that I’ve jumped or been airborne in, flying an airplane is the best rush of them all.
EBS: How do you keep in shape during the warmer months?
J.L.: I spend most of my time during the warmer months on the clock. Throughout the summer I build bike trails and all the way until mid-December put in barbed wire fences. Both jobs are rigorous and physically demanding; I am heading into the winter feeling strong.
EBS: Do you intend on going to college? If not, what are your plans?
J.L.: Within the next few years I’d like to give professional skiing the best attempt I can. However, I also understand that skiing doesn’t last forever. So after skiing I would like to further my piloting and get a job flying air tankers to wildfires. Another one of my interests is in real estate. Investing in land and housing in markets that are on the rise is such an interesting way to make a living.