MEET 14-YEAR-OLD JESSE LEWIS: “They call me ‘little Bode’ because I either get on the podium or fall trying to get there,” he says. “Last year I didn’t get to do much racing because in my first race I crashed and sprained my ankle, so I’m hoping this year I can get back in the loop.”
Lewis has been skiing since age seven, and ski racing for nearly as long, and for this young racer, the joy is in the speed of his events. He will compete in the Giant Slalom (GS), Super G, and Slalom local races this year: “My favorite is the Super G, because there’s a lot of room and you’re barely turning so you can just fly,” he says.
Every year the racers “go to Silver, Mt. Spokane, all the mountains around here, and at the end of the year there’s a Buddy Werner and each team selects the best two J5s because it’s only for J4s.” Two years ago, Lewis was one of those J5s; last season he was benched with injuries, and this season?
“I think maybe in the last few races of the season I’ll do a little better, but it’s hard to say because I’m not sure how my competition has changed since last year.”
Lewis trains both days every weekend during the season. “When I first started I only did one weekend day, and then the next year I did two days, but if I don’t feel like it on the second day, we just freeride.” His team organizes dryland training for fall and early winter, but as a wrestler for Lakeside Middle School, “the stuff we did for wrestling was probably harder because a lot of the training the team does is for the littler kids.”
SKIS: Lewis has one pair of Line skis, length 132, twintips, for freeriding, two pairs of Atomics, his GS11 skis (length 140) from last year, and a hand-me-down pair (length 150) from his brother he expects to use more this year, since he’s grown, and one pair of Volkls, 142, for slalom racing.
He will also have a pair of Head skis for GS and Slalom, which his coach Jimmy ascertained for him, and he hasn’t seen yet. “Jimmy says he got the best ones for me, so I’m really excited to see them,” he says.
How does he decide which pair to take to the hill each day? “Coach usually emails everybody if we’re doing a course, but if we’re not, I check the mountain conditions, to see what the snow is like. For powder, I usually take my Volkls because they’re a little longer.”
BOOTS: Salomon. “They were custom fit for my dad, but they fit me perfectly,” he says. Before each race, he tightens his boots, “then at the end of the race I loosen them and my feet are numb, so that’s usually the first thing I do when I cross the finish line.”
RACING SUIT: “I have two, but I think I’m going to wear my new one because the old one is purple, and it’s pretty small,” he says. His new suit is by Spyder.
LONG JOHNS: Lewis doesn’t have a preferred type, but he’s well accustomed to being cold—“I’m usually pretty freezing when I’m done, anyway,” he says.
OUTERWEAR: Full zip ski pants by Karbon and his team jacket by Karbon—“It’s the only coat I wear.”
POLES: Scott USA Series 4 poles. Good racers have two pairs of poles, Lewis explains, one for GS that are bent so you’re more aerodynamic when you’re in your tuck, and one that are straight with pole guards for slalom. “I just put the pole guards on the bent poles and call it good.”
SHINGUARDS: By Scott.
HELMET: Marker’s Cheetah model. “It’s got the face mask and everything.”
GOGGLES: Creek brand. “They were my mom’s, but I forgot mine one day so she let me use them, and I was like, ‘Mom, I’m keeping these.’”
GLOVES: Marker. “They’ve got all the padding and stuff on them. I’ve got those for one day, but then they get soaked, so I have another pair from the US Ski Team that I wear on the second day.”
ACCESSORIES: “I always have my iPod,” he says.