Jaxin The Ripper: Breckenridge born-and-raised skier hopes to qualify on Wednesday for Grand Prix finals (podcast)
December 4, 2018
Jaxin Hoerter says his father tore at least a couple of ski jackets each season back when he would chase his then pint-sized son Jaxin and his friends through the tight trees at their hometown Breckenridge Ski Resort.
More than a decade later, the Breckenridge born-and-raised freeskier Hoerter is a member of the U.S. Freeski Rookie Halfpipe team. On Wednesday, at Copper Mountain Resort's halfpipe, Hoerter had his sights set on finishing in position to qualify for Friday's freeski halfpipe final at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix, the first World Cup halfpipe event of the 2018–19 International Ski and Snowboard Federation season.
Wearing bib No. 16 in a 44-skier field, Hoerter hopes the cold Copper pipe is fast enough during Wednesday's two-run qualifying round for him to post a score good enough to qualify as one of the top-10 skiers for Friday's final round. Ready for the season after spending a month and a half with U.S. Freeski Team coaches at The Stomping Grounds Park training venue at the glacier in Saas Fee, Switzerland, Hoerter believes he has inventive takes on a switch double-cork 1080 and a double-cork 1080 that can ultimately push him into contention for the final round.
But long before Hoerter was one of the country's best rising halfpipe skiers, he was a typical Breckenridge youth bobbing and weaving beneath the waist of nearby, much-taller adult skiers on some of the resort's most challenging terrain.
LISTEN: Breckenridge freeskier Jaxin Hoerter describes growing up on-mountain in Breckenridge, becoming one of the best young halfpipe skiers in the country and previews what to expect at the U.S. Grand Prix
Growing up, Hoerter was a staple at the annual Dew Tour events at Breckenridge Ski Resort, with his family and friends watching the world's best skiers pioneer a still relatively young competition in the halfpipe. Considering his smaller stature, though, until he was about 11 years old Hoerter didn't mess around with Breck's park and pipe features too much because he couldn't clear the jumps.
So instead he'd join his father and family at above-tree-line spots off of the T-Bar or 6-Chair. Up there, he was inspired to see elite park freeskiers such as Bobby Brown and Duncan Adams showcasing park-like style in more of a big-mountain setting.
There was also Hoerter's childhood perception that doing anything on Breckenridge's massive superpipe was much scarier than high-alpine skiing.
"The pipe was scary back then, at 22 feet when I was 3 feet tall," Hoerter said. "It's just, the thought of flying straight up and then straight down as opposed to over a cliff — growing up I'd ski T-Bar over and over and over with my dad and that was just what I did."
So as a kid Hoerter found himself perfecting more of a big-mountain craft on his favorite Peak 9 spots at The Windows or Broadway. Hiking up to that terrain four or five times a day, his dad would chase him and his friends around through those chutes too narrow for an adult's body.
During a poor early season snow year at Breckenridge a pre-teen Hoerter decided to stay below tree line and give the park a try. Inside the park and pipe playground, a young Hoerter was amazed at some of the things he was seeing from athletes such as Brown and Adams, inspiring him to spend even more time on the halfpipe.
"Duncan could go 20 feet up doing switch in a halfpipe and it was so crazy to watch," Hoerter said. "I was training at Breck one day and he learned a new switch dub 12(60). And it was crazy because I never saw anybody do that trick. And I was like, 'That's what I want to do. I want to push myself to the next limit for this.'"
These days, though Hoerter dabbles above tree line at spots such as the Ballroom off of Peak 10 on a powder day, like any other Breckenridge local, it's most always halfpipe all the time when on snow for the 18-year-old. And after an offseason when Hoerter decompressed by spending two months camping and dirt biking out in Moab, Utah, and Grand Junction, he feels he's healthy and ready for the early season halfpipe skiing blitz of competitions he's scheduled for himself. Within a two-week span, Hoerter will compete at two World Cup events at Copper and in Secret Garden, China, while also dropping in at a Rev Tour competition. With all of that coming up so soon, Hoerter views the Copper Grand Prix as a competition where he needs to dial in his run.
"Get the tricks I want in, make sure I land and we'll see where it goes from there," Hoerter said. "I would like to land my big tricks, make sure they are in, because there are three competitions right on top of each other."
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