Excerpt from The Phoenix Project (Summer 2020)
II thought back to Copper Mountain earlier in the year when J.J. Thomas (Olympic Bronze Medalist and coach to Shaun White) said, “Jesse, where is the crossover between us? While you were becoming an Army Ranger, I was going to the Olympics.
I told J.J. the similarities are strikingly close, perhaps confused myself he didn’t already get it. I went on to describe an Army Ranger air assault mission and the Halfpipe competition.
Rangers come in hot on a helicopter to the target; U.S. Snowboarders execute a death drop into a curved skating rink with walls 22-feet high. Rangers move with speed, precision, and stealth to the breach point; you do your first trick to set the stage.
Next comes the explosive breach with a big bang; you nail a monster second hit with authority. Then comes our firefight, likely comes your super big air. We search the target for follow-on intelligence for the next mission; you do a clean-up hit. Then we take off in the helicopter; you exit the halfpipe.
J.J. just smiled as we turned back to watch Lucas Foster and Jason Wolle land runs in the halfpipe worthy of a podium at the upcoming World Cup with authority. I simply said, “Basically, we are the same breed. We match each other’s crazy”.
Remembering this bromance while the top snowboarders in the world waited for my response, I suddenly realized I was amongst a class of warriors as close to Army Rangers as I could get. I admired the irony of my journey, where it had taken me over the past two years and took a breath.
🎥 @brettpittman.photo Thanks Brett for capturing the first big #sendit.
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