Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
October 1, 2009
The last thing I expected was for a bunch of guys from Jackson Hole to be singing “Rocky Mountain High” at the top of their lungs in the Ajax gondola.
It was almost two o’clock in the morning last Friday, and we were all a bit lightheaded from partying at 11,212 feet during the premiere of Teton Gravity Research’s latest release, “Re:Session”, a celebration that got us high to say the least.
First of all, I gotta hand it to the Skico for being so ridiculously cool as to let a bunch of ski punks have a party at the top of mountain. It’s hard to believe they would not only allow this, but go so far as to condone it. The Meeting has really evolved over the last few years to become a ski industry favorite. Bringing together all these great athletes and filmers and industry types in the offseason when they don’t have a whole hell of a lot going on and it’s drop-dead gorgeous here in Aspen was a brilliant idea. Brilliant enough to get TGR’s co-founder Todd Jones cueing up old John Denver tunes on his iPhone for a late-night sing-along on the gondola ride down, at least.
I was definitely shocked when I got my schedule for The Meeting and it went so far as to say the after party for TGR’s movie started at 12:30 a.m. So not only do we get to ride the gondie at night, one of my all-time favorite things to do, but we get to party at the Sundeck into the wee hours of the morning. And that’s exactly what we did. Somehow I felt like we were getting away with something, like partying when Mom and Dad were out of town. I guess you could say we’re pretty lucky here in Aspen. Our parents are pretty cool.
Speaking of cool parents, it continues to blow my mind that we’re all still doing this, leading this crazy ski town lifestyle that allows us to have so much fun and to celebrate life and to honor and appreciate the beautiful places we’re lucky enough to live. That’s even more amazing as we’re pushing 40 and some of us have even gotten married and had kids without really ever truly having to settle down.
That’s especially true of Jones. I met Todd in 1997 when I flew to Jackson for the first time for the premiere of “Harvest” to write about them for Powder magazine. I know you guys have heard this story a million times but there’s always a way to tell it again and include something I might have left out.
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Todd is the middle child in the Jones brothers trio that also includes Steve and Jeremy. Steve co-founded TGR with Todd after the money they made commercial fishing in Alaska was enough to get their first production, “The Continuum” off the ground. Jeremy is the youngest, and he’s the big mountain pro snowboarder who stars in most of their films. I’d met him first, during a photoshoot in Island Lake Lodge, B.C., for Transworld Snowboarding magazine. He told me about his brothers, and I though it’d make a great feature story pitch for Powder magazine. The rest, as they say, is history.
From the start, Todd’s passion was the most tangible. It’s somehow permanently imprinted on his face with deep dimples, bright eyes and Cheshire cat grin. There’s always trouble, to be sure, but it’s trouble of the best kind. No one ever gets hurt, (though fragile things, like glass or pool sticks or hotel rooms, do get broken a little). All the brothers are amazing athletes, and Todd is probably best known for a technical line he skied that was captured and featured in “The Continuum.” An avalanche fractures and takes him with it, and somehow he comes barreling out of all the snow and debris and slough on both feet, skiing away like he was shot out of a cannon. That’s one reason people often think of him as a bit of a cannon ball, or “loose cannon” as they say up in Jackson.
These days he’s the technical genius behind TGR, a principal cameraman, editor and producer. He’s the techno-geek, the guy who knows all about viral marketing and Twitter and the latest and greatest digital camera-to-Internet technology. He’s also married with two boys, ages 3 and 3 months, and even that hasn’t slowed him down much. He’s still careening around with some unidentified force behind him.
“All those years of staying up all night really prepared for parenthood,” is what I said.
Anyhoo, what I’m getting at is it always gives me a bit of a thrill when those guys come to Aspen and love it as much as they do. Living in Jackson ruined me for other mountains because it’s bigger, taller, steeper, scarier, and because it’s home to some of the best athletes in the world. But I also revere Jackson because it’s home to TGR and because I fell in love with them that first trip. I so badly wanted to be a part of it, of the passion and excitement and the kind of raw, unbridled energy that only a bunch of boys can create and manage to live through. One season was enough for me.
So when they come to my town and love it and celebrate it with me I realize it’s not about Jackson. It’s about living the dream, this lifestyle that continues to make us so happy and feel so alive and still brings us together even as we grow older. But it’s also the pride I feel in sharing this place and these mountains at their most glamorous time of year, when all that glitters truly is gold. Not how most people think of Aspen, but in the most meaningful and relevant way.