Although the sport of freeriding or freeskiing – that is, skiing or snowboarding on neglected, usually off-piste terrain with no set course – is currently not included in the Winter Olympics, Kai has other interests and options, such as:
Todd Jones joked that everything his son had done so far could just be a ploy “to make a really radical college resume”. Todd added, “He needs a backup plan. You can’t be a professional skier forever. “
Kai said he had no set goals for the distant future. In one breath, he said he could stop skiing in three years if it wasn’t fun anymore. A moment later, he suggested that he wanted to be among the legends of the sport, like Tanner Hall, an American who won a gold medal in freestyle skiing at the 2001 Winter X Games at the age of 17 and then won six gold medals by 2008 At the same time, Hall began an acclaimed film and advertising career.
Hall, 37, who arrived in his hometown of Montana last week, said he knew all about Kai Jones’ exploits, which he described as “refreshing,” although he wondered if his teenage successors could possibly be much more pressurized.
“With all that social media and how many eyes you have on yourself, it gets a lot harder,” Hall said. “Our generation was more of a party generation, and you can’t do that anymore. I would win a competition and then spend 10 percent of my income on drinks that evening.
“I was the boy who said skiing was not a business,” he added. “You know what? It is, but you must be a good role model and be good to yourself and good to other people. With the team that Kai has behind him, he has the upper hand. He just has to stay focused. “
On a recent stroll through the bustling Jackson Hole village, where the Kardashians and Justin Bieber can be A-listers, Kai Jones was repeatedly stopped by children about half his age who wanted to pose for photos with him. Others wanted him to sign their ski helmets while their mothers and fathers waited for selfies as well, though they would tower over the centerpiece of the photo.