By Alex Bunten | The Charlotte News
What comes to mind when you hear the word “jackjumper”? A quick Internet search will pull up a long-jumping, venomous breed of ant from Australia, some cables for jump-starting your car and possibly a few antiquated references to flailing your arms and feet around in unison at an aerobics class.
Dig a bit deeper and you’d see a single ski with a tippy-looking seat on top of a short post. Some are 100 years old, others of a more modern design. Look through images and there’d be a host of Charlotters riding these contraptions all over the state—at Mt. Philo, Lincoln Gap, Bolton Valley and others. Most recently, there was a flock of locals down at Mount Snow’s 36th annual Jackjump World Championship on March 6.
Once a year, “woodchucks” from around the state, and even from New Hampshire, descend on Mount Snow to test their home-made jackjumpers on a tight dual slalom course set on Charlie’s Chase. Each rider gets two runs and the times are combined. The grand prize this year was $100 cash for the top spot.
With a combined time of 53.91, Mark Stirewalt of Waterbury Center took gold for the second year in a row. Craig Bunten of Charlotte was a hair’s breadth behind him with a combined time of 53.95. Ethan Bond-Watts, who had previously won the competition three time in 2010, 2012 and 2013, came in fourth with a time of 56:21.
Other locals on the list of competitors were David Richardson, Sean Hirten, Tucker Bond-Watts, Matt Lageunesse, Neil Marchiese and Tom Deckman.
In a tentative testament to the ease of riding these wild-looking devices down a steep slope, Deckman, who had tried jackjumping only once on Mt. Philo the year previous, was able to compete in the championship without missing a gate.
Charlotte’s local inn-keeper, David Garbose, was also in attendance, watching the team sponsored by the Mt. Philo Inn. “It’s a great sport and seems to have strong connections to Charlotte,” he said, “We are happy to sponsor the riders, and we always love seeing them on Mt. Philo. Next year, if we get some snow in the valley maybe we’ll have our own competition in the north!”
Currently jackjumping is only officially allowed on certain lifts at Bolton Valley and Jay Peak. According to Lee Weisman, former Charlotter and an unofficial advocate for the sport, other mountains may open their gates to jackjumping in the coming year.