Jim Norm Jack – The Eagle

Michael Bird Shaffer pays a moving tribute to his colleague and friend, Jim Jack, one of freeride skiing’s most colourful personalities, who was killed in an avalanche at Steven’s Pass, Washington, in 2012. Jim Jack, a name that is synonymous with the start of freeride ski competition standardization in the early 2000s, also lent his training and support to young skiers. This was a man as demanding in the mountains as he was relaxed in the valley. A free skier.

Jim Norm Jack, the only guy we knew with 3 first names, strong names from his father’s before, but they weren’t quite enough to cover his reach as our ambassador to life and skiing.

Our brother passed to the other side in 2012, in that gawd awful avalanche at Stevens Pass, gone in an instant, but his spirit remains in many of our daily lives.

Being man of the mountain, a real woodsman, he was a man’s man, but with tenderness of heart.
He searched out ways to help others, even taking prison workers out in the woods and teaching them the beauty of hard work in nature.
For me, though, it was skiing that really delivered his message of: live life with love. Jim knew that skiing made us better people and he was able to harness the mountain’s energy to touch everyone he met along the way.

As a competitor in big mountain competitions, he was a fierce skier, smooth in style and always with a big smile. If he were not a podium winner, he would be the first to congratulate his friends.

Shane Wilder

Taking his experience competing, along with his leadership ability, he helped, along with Shane McConkey and others, found the IFSA. The IFSA is the governing body that helped formulate how big mountain free ski competitions would be judged. Fluidity was the key in Jim’s way of thinking, his goal was to give the competitors as many options as possible, while trying to keep them in control. Jim became head judge and traveled the world, handling all the pressure with so much grace, able to leave politics to the side, while judging every skier, on only their ability.

Jim helped to bring the junior free ski competitions into existence, which helped bring youngsters away from skiing gates, to shredding the mountains in fun filled competitions. Jim’s focus was the kids, he always said that the kids were the future.

Now, looking at all those he taught, many now leaders in skiing, it becomes easy to see and feel the philosophy of Jim Jack: each skier is an ambassador of the sport with the responsibility, first to be kind, and then, to look out for others. No matter, a champion skier, lift operator or maintenance man, each representing the sport of skiing, each needing to be recognized and thanked during the time we have together.

When Jim went away so suddenly, on that fateful day at Stevens Pass, our world lost an exceptional human being, shoes that really can never be filled, but he will always be remembered because he is alive in each of us, those that knew and loved him.

Shane Wilder

ON my car there is a sticker, made by a friend, that guides me as I go out for adventures. What Would Jim Jack Do? I read the words in my head and even out loud speaking directly to Jim. “What would you do, JJ”?

The answer comes in many forms as I hear Jim’s voice that carries a smile.
“ smooth is fast” and “ski from your heart” ring often from him, but what ever the wise words that I still hear from him, they all echo in a common thread – always strive for fullwingspan!

Thanks for watching over us! Thanks for being a leader among us, even after you are not physically with us.

“ It’s better then being a movie star, because I get to talk, teach and inspire. Life is love”.

Jim Norm Jack…The Eagle lives on….

Shane Wilder

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