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This past week, we had the pleasure of spending time with the charming and humble Hunter Wood. A man that has set out since graduating college to a path to live the DREAM! This entails working two jobs at Local and Teton Village Sports. He skis his heart out every moment in between.
On Feb 1 of 2013, during my first full winter here, I had a sighting of Hunter Wood at a movie premier all about his quest for living the dream. Hunter is a man that has quietly become one of the best big-mountain skiers in the world. The movie premier of “One Mountain” by David Reichert showcased Hunter chasing his dream of being a “ski bum” to score first descents on many peaks culminating with being one of just a few to ski the Grand Teton.
Against conventional wisdom and the stress of his father to get a real job and make money, Hunter followed his passion and dream of skiing big lines. To this day, he is glowing with happiness as he continues to live that dream. And, low and behold through various life situations, Hunter’s dad as of late has retired and enjoyed skiing every single day for 2.5 or so hours and lives for the cool breeze on his face as he makes blissful turns down the mountain.
Hunter started skiing at the wee age of 2 years old! With a mom (Catherine Wood Zimmerman) in the ski industry jamming out high rankings including winning the University Games in Grenoble France. Unfortunately, her career ended with blowing her knee in Alta. From there, Catherine and Hunter’s father Richard Wood coached future world champions Tamara and Steve McKinney. Richard won all of his masters races as well. So, by default, Hunter grabbed on to the passion of skiing from the get go and grew up ski racing himself.
Hunter grew up in Reno Nevada, and then skipped out of town to study at CU Boulder. Like many we interviewed, a college spring break trip landed a stop to Jackson to ski. With low visibility and rough snow, they ended up skipping out of town and heading to Alta where it was bluebird powder for days. Jackson didn’t give up on Hunter just yet and a year or so later, in the mid 90’s, it caught him by surprise and before you know it, he was here for good.
Set to make his dream a reality, Hunter looked into employment right away to make it all happen. He began the job hunt at JHMR. A job at the resort quickly takes care of a comp ski pass to enjoy the fruits of his labor daily. When he first applied, it was a toss up between Pepi Stiegler’s and Teton Village Sports (TVS). TVS had the opportunity to ski all day long and start work at 3pm and that quickly sealed the deal. Hunter was lucky to work with the legendary Doug Coombs who became a close mentor of his on every level of the sport. To this day, Hunter still works at TVS and additionally at Local Restaurant as bartender shaking up cocktails for many a powder thirsty soul.
Hunter’s favorite part of the Tetons matches many we have interviewed where the love and passion for endless steeps, countless powder turns and various ski projects continuously await. Hunter often finds himself traveling to other ski destinations, just to have a desire to get back home. His favorite area by far is deep in the backcountry, a “secret spot” is his ultimate favorite. Hunter loves the rewards of long ski lines and endless powder that he often enjoys with his friends.
When it comes to his advances in skiing, Hunter attributes it all to how a pack of friends will all collaboratively push each other to new limits. Hunter has high respect for his best friends Carl Daavettila, Owen Black and Cory Felton. They have helped him push the envelope to new levels with his skiing. One fun adventure of Hunter’s was hitting up a fun Project of Central, Breakneck and Gothic. And that is just how every day will go in Hunter’s world tagging lines all over the back country and having a celebratory beer after with friends.
At the tail end of the interview, I ran into some of Hunter’s buddies at TVS. Nate would say one of his favorite memories to date with Hunter is skiing his first trip to no name peak. Sam recalls skiing Buck for the first time on a perfect corn snow day. When Sam first met Hunter, he called him out as a local at first glance. His reasoning was because “his outfits look sick.” Hunter can now thank Scott Sports for that as they have outfitted him from head to toe. Hunter’s charm, delightful spirit, and ski style that has him floating from turn to turn makes any friend just want to spend a moment with him.
Over the years, Hunter’s favorite addition to JHMR was when they added the gondola. His stoke is high for the additional gondola to come in the 2016-17 season.
And if you catch him out jamming away to tunes, it is most likely the brash melodic indie rock outfit known as the Fratellis. He also loves to munch on cheese fondue bourguignonne with a good Cabernet. If you want to make his day after a sweet ski tune, surprise him with a pack of Stiegl Radler.
Skis aside, we always love to hear about our legendary skiers love life =) Hunter found love aside from the ski scene when he locked eyes on a beautiful gem named Caroline and they have been going steady for over a year now.
If you are looking to spot Hunter among the masses, just look for the beanie set high above his head in his own style. That style started when he was living in Reno and two legendary skiers wore their hat that way and from there it has become his staple look. He has 4 colors to choose from on any given day of raging orange, blue, grey and dark grey. Raging orange standing out as the favorite.
In the summer, Hunter loves to rev up his ski boat and water ski with his friends. Nothing is better than a hot summer day on Jackson Lake with your favorite pals making sweet rooster tails.
Lastly, at work there is always the favorite moment of bringing out the shot-ski at the end of the season after they have tuned and repaired thousands of skis.
Cheers Hunter! Thanks for being RAD.
Words by Jax | and Photography by Lance