JT Holmes: Professional Skier

JT Holmes: Professional Skier


I first met Shane while skiing in Alta. Shane, Brant Moles, my friend Chris and I seemed to be the only skiers out on the mountain actually charging, looking for lines, cliffs to huck, and snow we could ski fast. So naturally, we ended up on the same chair. It was 1994 and I was 14,Shane was 24. He wore that silly thin hat that didn’t go over his ears and a long ponytail. I had braces and wore a purple jacket and a headband. Both of us rocked race boots (the fashion faux pas that we now constantly make fun of). We charged that day, all of us on skinny skis.

I remember getting into some things that were slightly over my head that day, but I trusted Shane immediately. He skied with such a sense of confidence that I just knew that one way or another we were going to make it through these lines we were dropping into and that it would be a great experience. We’d go on to trust each other’s judgment with our lives on a regular basis. The trust level was so complete. It was like his eyes were mine and vice versa. If we were evaluating a ski line or a cliff and he observed something that I did not, the observation was immediately accepted as fact. Shane and I were particularly chatty when it came to gear, and new gear developments. That day we got into a charged discussion about ski boots and I realized that both of us wanted to take advantage of any advance in gear that could give us a bit of a boost on our competition. We’re both competitive guys.

The second time we skied together was in Squaw, this time I think I was 15. I asked Shane, “What do you do for money?” He responded with a grin, “I am a rock star pro skier!” It was at that moment that I decided what I would do with my life. It wasn’t the last time that spending a few hours with Shane would change the course of my life.

It is impossible to choose a single best trip ever with Shane. There were several a year dating back to 1997, with and without camera crews. What I will miss the most is not the trip highlights, the deep powder, first descents or explorations and adventures in which we put our lives in each other’s judgment, but way more so, all the funny antics during those trips. And I don’t mean just on our downtime, but actually while we did hardcore things, our humor was at its finest. Sarcasm, practical jokes, storytelling. We were like 12-year-olds. We’d climb trees or walk across thin ice over frigidrivers… it was always a contest: Who could climb the tree higher or who dared to run andslide across the thinnest ice? We were constantly running up each other’s hotel room charges, letting money ride on games of roshambo.

“WE’D GO ON TO TRUST EACH OTHER’S JUDGMENT WITH
OUR LIVES ON A REGULAR BASIS. THE TRUST LEVEL WAS
SO COMPLETE.”

We went to a cliff in South Lake Tahoe with a gazillion cameras and just gave ski BASE jumping a go. People were beyond psyched. I think they could see in our eyes that we really knew we were onto something and that what we had started with was just the tip of the iceberg. We felt like kids again, now that our playground, Mother Nature, was being seen through new goggles. We needed to revisit all our favorite spots and check out the offerings. People could grasp our vision and there was no ignoring our enthusiasm. That started the ball rolling.

Shane was totally rad, but didn’t take himself too seriously. He was immature enough to get along with 13-year-olds, and deep down a genius who could challenge the intellect of any adult. Losing Shane has certainly made me re-think what I am doing. Really, the dust is just settling for me. I often feel troubled and I miss my friend.

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