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Bozeman, MT skier Jake Hopfinger talks dream lines

Bozeman, MT skier Jake Hopfinger is very serious. | Photo: Nic Alegre

Meet Jake Hopfinger: an ice-coast bred powder-hound in search of big terrain and bigger airs. He spent almost all season down in Jackson filming with TGR scoring lines he dreamed of riding as a kid. Watch Jake's episode of Legends In The Making.

We caught up with him down at the lodge and talked crew vibes, decision making, and tick-list lines.

Where are you from? How'd you get into skiing?

Bozeman, Montana is my home base, but I grew up on the East Coast in Rochester, New York. I started as a ski racer adamantly trying to ski as much as I could. But growing up on the East Coast, there wasn't a whole lot of it. My dad would always subscribe to these powder magazines and we'd get them all the time. One time I was flipping through and saw this line Dash Long did and we were actually able to execute that exact line this season. It was a dream come true.

What's your skiing super power?

I think my strongest suit in skiing is just taking big terrain and piecing turns and little natural airs down it. And that's why I do the best and that's where I really enjoy skiing. So I'm going to try to keep chasing that.

Jake Hopfinger takes air and style to heart in the Wyoming backcountry. | Photo: Nic Alegre

Favorite part about being out in Jackson for the season?

It's just such a good crew. It’s my first season out here and definitely won't be my last. But also living in the lodge and watching everyone rip in these big mountains has been epic. It just makes me want to go find big aesthetic mountains with good light and ski fast down them.

Where do you want to take your skiing next?

I think in the future I just want to continue to play it safe and progress my skill set into skiing heavier terrain and steeper mountains. I’m psyched to get out to Alaska and ski more spines and big wall rides, and start flying. I just like the aesthetic of them. That’s the stuff that really draws me to backcountry skiing; just skiing in big complex terrain and using your brain to figure out how to get down and making it work.

Jake pops off in the Wyoming backcountry. | Photo: Nic Alegre

Who’s the crew & what have you been getting into?

I’ve mostly been hanging with Parkin in the Wyoming backcountry and we've just been filtering people in and out crew-wise. Parkin is so fluent and good in the mountains, so it's nice to bounce ideas off of him and use him as a tool, because his mind works in funny ways sometimes. He just won't get out of bed and is always 45 minutes behind the program. He's always the last one at the trailhead. But then you get the kid in the mountains and he won't leave. He's so productive it's hard to get him in. He's smart and he knows what he's looking at. He’s like a little personal database because he can just see mountains in different ways. Like I've never seen someone be so efficient in the mountains and just execute objectives so well. So it's cool to be out here with him for the winter.

It’s been an A-plus crew all around. All the seniors are epic. We're all just like good buddies in the mountains having a good time and it's the dream. Dream team. We love it and I wouldn't change a thing.

Jake and Parkin Costain buddying around while filming Magic Hour | Photo: Nic Alegre

Any standout lines?

It’s got to be the line Dash Long did in 2016. It was a dream come true. We only found two ways to cleanly get down this rock wall and we both wanted to ski it, so we ended up convincing ourselves that we could both ski down at the same time. It was pretty intimidating, but it was sick to have your buddy with you on top of it because you're looking down at the beast and it's steep and long and fluted, with bushes and rocks sticking out of it. It was way steeper and longer than we thought.

Parkin and I were also looking at this other line for a while and it was sick to have the snow to actually ski it. Parkin chose this crazy ridge line, super close to the knife edge of this ridge with a big cliff on the other side. It filled in super nice and the light was on it, so Parkin kind of just ripped it per usual.

How do you like to make decisions in the mountains?

Rule number one is always come home safe. That's like the obvious most important thing. Like nothing is worth it in my eyes. So it's pretty easy for me to make conservative calls sometimes. I'm happy that my mind is coming around well enough to be able to make conscious decisions in the mountains, because a few years ago, I definitely was pushing it a little harder than I wanted to be. So it's nice to be conservative sometimes.

About The Author

stash member Teton Gravity Research

It all began with a dream and a little cash scraped together from fishing in Alaska... Since 1995, we've been an action sports media company committed to fueling progression through our ground-breaking films (37 and counting) and online content.