Jamie Pierre Avalanche, world record-holding professional skier Jamie Pierre, who once famously jumped off a 255-foot cliff, died in a weekend avalanche in Utah while on a steep slope at a closed resort.
The skier was swept over a cliff Sunday at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in the Wasatch mountains about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
Pierre was snowboarding one of Snowbird’s steepest slopes with a friend when he was sent cartwheeling over a cliff after he triggered the late afternoon slide, the Utah Avalanche Center reported.
It was the season’s first avalanche fatality in the U.S., authorities said.
Jamie’s sister, Naomi Pierre, 33, of Minnetonka, Minn., said her brother was a deeply devout Christian who prayed before every jump or run down a dangerous slope.
“He absolutely loved the Lord. That was his purpose and mission in life, and his skiing was all about honoring God. He was incredibly passionate about getting that word out to youth,” Naomi Pierre said Monday. “So he did that through jumping off cliffs and skiing down dangerous chutes.
“He always asked the Lord first if it was OK to go,” she added. “He was a wonderful person.”
More than a foot of fluffy snow had fallen in the mountains over the weekend where snow was already waist-deep, creating what authorities said were dangerous avalanche conditions.
“Early season is our most dangerous time of year — just the opposite of what most people think,” Bruce Tremper, director of the Utah Avalanche Center, said Monday. “It’s not anything you want to mess with.”
Snowbird doesn’t open for skiing until Saturday and hasn’t cleared the mountain of danger. The resort had signs warning against skiing, and Pierre and his ski partner shouldn’t have been on the slopes, Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said.
“They’re trespassing, technically, and it’s very dangerous,” Hoyal said Monday.
Jamie set off from nearby Alta Ski Area and made his way to neighboring Snowbird over a series of ridges. The two apparently avoided injury in one slide earlier in the day, officials said.