Kai Jones can see the future of skiing. | Photo: Nic Alegre
It’s hard to believe that Legend Has It is Kai Jones’ fifth TGR film. The 16-year-old freeskiing prodigy exploded onto the scene and since his debut, he’s captivated global audiences with his supernatural skiing skills. Undoubtedly unique, Kai’s legendary story continues to unfold before our eyes, as he simultaneously calls his own personal legends his peers. Keep scrolling to read our conversation with Kai. Watch Kai's episode of Legends In The Making.
When did you know that skiing would be your path?
Finding my path was a bit of an evolution. It really began for me when I watched TGR’s Almost Ablaze. The lifestyle the athletes lived and the locations they traveled to ski had me hooked, and I realized that skiing was exactly what I wanted to do. Also, when I was 11 my segment went viral on YouTube [a casual 6 million views], which helped cement my spot in the crew for the following winter’s movie, and now we’re here after five films. I couldn’t have done this without my sponsors (Atomic, JHMR, Dakine, Mammut, TGR Optics), being a part of Red Bull’s team, and I’m just super grateful to have the opportunity to pursue my passion.
Kai doing Kai things.| Photo: Nic Alegre
How has your approach to skiing changed since you began filming with TGR at age 11 or 12?
I feel like it’s stayed super similar. For me it’s always been about having fun and being creative. I love playing around on the mountain and using the natural features to maximize my experience. However, filming has helped me become more patient. It’s helped me prepare for a winter in a more strategic way, dialing in my training, nutrition, and mindset. But in the end it’s still the pursuit of catching air and having fun.
What impact has growing up at Jackson Hole has on your abilities and motivation?
Jackson Hole is the mecca for big mountain and backcountry skiing, in my opinion. Growing up around all the legends here, it’s been an amazing environment to grow in. So many locals here are passionate about sliding on snow and are always sending it. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from growing up here. Seeing the passion has pushed me to improve every winter and make the most out of every day. It’s also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and the scene and terrain have helped me gain the right tools to become the skier I am today.
Your talent has made you a legend in the making over the past few years. How’s that feel?
It’s super cool. I love skiing and love pushing my limits. Skiing is my passion and it’s really inspiring and humbling to see all the kids being inspired by me. At the end of the day, it’s all about sharing the love and getting people stoked on the mountains!
Kai Jones floats in the Jackson Hole backcountry. | Photo: Nic Alegre
You’re in a unique position; so many groms roughly your age look up to you and your otherworldly abilities. How does that feel, and what advice can you give to these kids who want to ski like you and continue to push boundaries?
First off, I’m so thankful that all the groms look up to me and that I can be a source of inspiration for them. I just love skiing and it’s wild to see where it’s taken me, and I’m stoked that my experience has inspired other kids to push themselves. My advice to them is: have fun with it, let opportunities come to you, and make the most of every single day. Do that, and it’ll all fall into place and make you the best skier you can be. In the end, it’s all about having fun, so don’t lose sight of that!
A legend and his Padawan. | Photo: Nic Alegre
Who are your legends that inspired you and continue to inspire you today?
My number one legend is my dad, Todd Jones. He helped create TGR and his passion for spending so much time in the mountains has made a massive impact on my life. He’s helped pave the way to be who I am today. [Tim] Durtschi, man I’ve learned everything from him and it’s so cool to call him one of my best friends. [Nick] McNutt, he’s another great mentor. Watching his breakout segment in Almost Ablaze, helped inspire my style and creativity. Sage [Cattabriga-Alosa], [Ian] Mac, Bobby Brown, Shane McConkey. Their life paths inspired me to pursue my passion and helped me take chances to become great.
What goes through your mind when you’re staring down a line most people wouldn’t even dream of skiing?
My mind goes into this hyper-focused world. I snap into flow state at the top of my line, I plan where I’m going to ski, I lean into my instincts and embrace being totally in the moment. All the gnarliest things I’ve done have been nearly spontaneous. I don’t plan ahead very much, I observe and then use my intuition. When in the zone, I see a vision of my line and I know it’s possible. Then all I have to do is drop in and have fun!
Masterclass in straight-lining | Photo: Nic Alegre
Where is your favorite place to ski on earth?
I’d say Alaska. It’s so untamed. Everywhere I go, it’s new and I feel like there are endless possibilities for creativity up there. My favorite zones in AK are Girdwood and Juneau. I’m excited to continue exploring up there!
What are your goals for the future?
It’s pretty simple: keep skiing and having fun, keep traveling all over the world to ski, and continuing to inspire people and share the love for skiing.
The injury. We don’t need to dwell on that too much, but everyone would love to know how you’re progressing in your rehab. We’re all super excited to see you on skis again doing what you do best.
I’ve been spending a lot of time down in LA at Red Bull’s APC (Athlete Performance Center) working with the best trainers in the world and I’m excited about my progress. I’m working really hard to get my strength back and I’m stoked to get back on snow when I can!