In Remembrance: Bryce Newcomb

In Remembrance: Bryce Newcomb

Photos by Fredrik Marmsater

On March 27, 2018, Bryce Newcomb was the victim of a cornice failure outside of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, suffering blunt trauma to the head after a lengthy fall. The pro skier was in a coma for the next three months and died on June 15. The enormous outpouring of support from the Jackson community, greater ski industry and all those he touched during his life was a true testament to Newcomb’s character and his impact on those around him.

We offer these four remembrances of Bryce as a way to memorialize him within the pages of FREESKIER.

“It’s still a struggle to put into words what Bryce meant to the Atomic family, the people he worked with and, selfishly, to me.

I first met Bryce on the SIA showroom floor. He was wearing a Muenster Factory shirt and had a beer around his neck in a junior Moon Boot held there with a shoelace. I knew before words were even spoken that this would be the start of a great friendship that would span the rest of our lives. I was constantly humbled attempting to follow Bryce around Jackson Hole on skis. His effortless yet powerful skiing style showed through in every photo and video of him.

I remember when we offered Bryce an athlete contract with Atomic. He was so excited when I called him and told him, he immediately hung up the phone. Shortly thereafter I received a FaceTime call from Bryce perched on a ladder on the side of a house in Jackson with a breathing mask on and a paintbrush in hand telling me he was coming to Utah that minute to celebrate. After convincing him that the paint he was using would dry out and no one likes a half-painted house, we agreed that we would celebrate the next time our paths crossed. But the story of that celebration would need its own article.

Fast forward to Alta, Utah, in December 2017. Bryce was invited to ski with our sales and R&D teams from Austria at our annual sales meeting. He showed up before the sun rose to help set up tents, unload skis and force smiles on a weary morning crew. Bryce, only knowing one speed on skis, aired a big wind lip and, upon landing, clipped a rock hidden under the snow leading to a nasty tomahawk. He quickly got to the bottom of the hill and realized something was wrong. As he went into the clinic I picked up his truck and headed that way, hoping the damage would be minimal. As I walked into the clinic, he looked at me, broke a half smile and told me not to make him laugh as it hurt too much. I drove him back to my house in his half-ton diesel and he insisted on staying. He spent the next four days sleeping sitting up on my couch. Every one of those days, around 5 p.m., I would get a text from him asking me to pick him up for dinner with the Atomic team so he could still be part of the event, share some stories and continue to bring that Bryce smile we all knew so well. When he went in for a follow-up appointment after returning to Jackson he found out that he’d broke and displaced his scapula by an inch and a half and would require surgery, immediately. Bryce was one of the toughest people I’ve known, and I always envied him for the authentic life he lived and the way he treated everyone that came into his life.

Bryce left a postcard of himself on my desk the last time he was in the office, autographed, “Love you long time! — Bryce Newcomb.” It sits next to my monitor as I type this. I miss you, buddy.”

Sean Kennedy, Atomic

“While Bryce’s life was short, he wasted no time maximizing his adventures, his love for his friends and family and, of course, days on his skis. It was all about heart for Bryce. He wore it on his sleeve-or maybe one should say breast pocket, as Bryce was often found sleeveless due to an age-old skiing tradition. He will be missed. His shining eyes and grinning smile that could be found in the tram line, the local ski shop, the bar and sending it down mountains will remain a part of the Jackson Hole spirit, and the spirit of all skiers.

I spent part of my early ski career with Bryce. Driving to competitions, spending time in hospitals when he sent it too hard and filming around Jackson Hole. The day with Bryce I’ll remember the most was when he, Jess McMillan and myself hit the classic Jackson cliff, “Fat Bastard.” I can’t remember why I was chosen to go first. But I do remember the conversation I had with Bryce. I had never hit anything that large, so I peppered him with questions. I asked how much speed I should take, he said, “A lot.” I asked how many turns I should take, he said, “Very few.” And I asked what I should do in the air, “Knuckles to buckles,” he said. I’ve said that to myself off every air I’ve hit since. And I’ll think of him now anytime I’m floating through the air—a place I hope he’s floating through, too.”

Hadley Hammer, Pro Skier

“Bryce worked for me from the time he was 19 until he was 30. He was very loyal, always by my side. He was one of the best skiers. He just saw the mountains differently. Anytime anyone came to town, Bryce was their local tour guide. He was happy to show people around, regardless of who they were. He didn’t care if you were a local or a “gumby”—he’d always take you to his special spots. He partied hard, full throttle, but would never be late in the morning. He must have known he wasn’t going to be here for long so he fit it all in. If he met you once he knew you for forever. He had an intelligence that many didn’t know about and even his economic degrees didn’t do it justice. He did a lot behind the scenes—with his education, his skiing and his personal life. He loved helping people. He was never cocky about his own skiing. He was always just sending it. I’ll miss him and remember him always.”

— Bootsie Huggins, Teton Boot Lab

“At the top, I walked off the tram deck alone, back into the windy, gray day. As I put my skis on, I heard someone over my shoulder. “Hey, you’re still in town!?” It was Bryce. “Let’s go skiing!” I was in Jackson Hole for what was supposed to be less than a week. That was potentially my last day in town, freeskiing alone, but after I ran into Bryce, he showed me one of his favorite runs in Four Pines. Then he offered me his couch to sleep on. I ended up staying and skiing with him for at least another week. He showed me the ropes on more classic Jackson lines, we drank beers together and we looked each other in the eye as we passionately talked (over a few more of those beers) about everything we wanted to ski together in the future. Before that week, we’d barely met. But, from that chance rendezvous atop the tram, he was a sincere friend to me. He opened up his home, his mountain and his community to me like we’d known each other for a decade.

But, you see, what was special about Bryce was that my experience getting to know him was far from unique. That’s who he was: a genuine human being who knew how to have a great time and would invite anyone to join him in doing so. And I certainly wasn’t the only skier who he’d invited to sleep on his couch with zero hesitation. A lot of you may have known Bryce better and longer than I did, but I think that was also exemplary of him: you didn’t have to know him long to know how great a friend he was.

As I drove away from Jackson, after another night of sleeping on Bryce’s couch, I rejoiced in the memories of my time spent skiing, laughing and living life with him. We all want to ski a little more like him, but more so than that, I thought to myself that I want to live a little more like Bryce. And so I started by inviting a lot more people to sleep on my couch when I got back home.”

— Drew Petersen, Pro Skier