Common Ground Center's Kiesha Richardson is an avid Jack Jumper. We think the winter sport has great potential to become a favorite CGC pastime!
What exactly is a Jack Jumper? It’s a single ski with a homemade seat attached to it; you use only your feet and balance to navigate down a hill.
What is the benefit of Jack Jumping?
Well, I’ve been a skier since I was five years old. When I hit my 20’s and entered the real world, purchasing a ski pass for the winter was not exactly in my budget. My husband, Dave, and all of his friends had started making their very own Jack Jumpers using recycled old skis and wood for a seat (all stuff you can find hiding in different parts of your garage- so no cost involved). The best part is that you can use this contraption anywhere that has a downhill slope (you don’t have to spend the big bucks to use the hills of a ski resort). In fact, the hill between the Eco-Lodge and the dining hall at Common Ground Center would make a great spot for beginners!
Who can Jack Jump? Anyone who likes being outdoors and is creative enough to turn old skis into a new contraption. You don’t need fancy ski boots or awkward poles either, just your boots and a big smile. Dave even made some jack jumpers to give as Christmas presents this year. He gifted one to my family and everyone took turns using it Christmas morning. He gifted the other to our son Donovan who is getting better by the day as he practices on our sledding hill in the back yard.
Are there competitions? I have been involved in the sport of Jack Jumping for about three years now. Last year Dave and I traveled to southern Vermont to compete in the Jack Jump World Championships at Mount Snow. We went with a group of our friends and of the seven of us who competed, we had 3 finish in the top 10 on the guys side and 2 finish in the top 5 on the girls side (personally, I can say I was 4th in the world for the Jack Jump championship). But don’t get overwhelmed; anyone can compete in this family friendly event! Kids are welcome to compete, and there are those who beat a lot of the adult competitors!
This year there were 60 competitors total (I had to take a year off as I am currently incubating the next Jack Jump world champion: she's due in May). We traveled down to Mount Snow again with another group of 7. Our friend Ethan Bond-Watts took the title on the guys side with another friend, Craig Bunten, coming in a close second.
The greatest thing about Jack Jumping is that it is so inclusive. Anyone can jump on a Jack Jumper and ride down a hill (snow permitting, of course). I encourage everyone to dig through your closets for an old pair of skis, ask a friend, or even purchase some at a used ski sale and convert them into Jack Jumpers. For local Jack Jump hot spots, I recommend the Lincoln gap or Mount Philo. Perhaps a Jack Jumping weekend retreat at Common Ground Center is on the horizon!
Kiesha Richardson is Common Ground Center's rental coordinator. She grew up in snowy Vermont and found that Jack Jumping came naturally when she first tried it in 2010. In summer 2011, Kiesha herself rented the CGC site for her wedding to husband Dave! Kiesha, Dave, and their son Donovan live in Hinesburg, VT. They eagerly await the newest member of their family, a baby girl due in May!