Professional skier Jamie Pierre, full name: Matthew Jamie Pierre, died Sunday afternoon after he was swept off a rocky cliff by an avalanche he triggered dropping into a steep northwest facing slope while he and a friend were snowboarding at Utah's Snowbird Ski Resort, according to sources.
ESPN.com confirmed Pierre's death with Salt Lake City's Unified Police Department on Sunday night, reporting that the skier's death is the first avalanche fatality of the winter season.
We got the call about 3:13 p.m. this afternoon of an avalanche with a victim, said Unified Police Lieutenant Justin Hoyal. We, along with Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, were called to the scene. Once we were able to get to the victim, he was deceased.
Pierre, a 38-year-old backcountry specialist and daredevil, was swept hundreds of feet over a rocky cliff in the resort's South Chute area. Hoyal said that he was not buried, but likely died of trauma.
According to the Utah Avalanche Center, Pierre and a friend left the currently-closed Alta Ski Area and continued to Snowbird Resort via Mount Baldy to access the Peruvian Cirque and the Gad Valley. Pierre dropped into a steep northwest facing slope and triggered the slide.
Rescue reports indicated that they had likely triggered another slab avalanche prior to the victim triggering the fatal one, according to an accident report on Utahavalanchecenter.org. The partner did not recall hearing any collapses or whumphs in the snowpack, however.
What is ironic about Pierre's death is that the resort had not yet opened for the season and conditions throughout the area were already hazardous in the aftermath of a major storm, according to ESPN.com. Grindtv.com reports that the incident is under investigation but the Utah Avalanche Center
The Utah Avalanche Center, which interviewed Pierre's unidentified partner, posted a statement on its website, saying, With the partner watching, the victim dropped into the slope, immediately triggering the slide. He was carried hundreds of feet through steep rocky terrain and reportedly went over a small cliff band and came to a stop only partially buried.
The partner called for a rescue, alerting both the Snowbird Ski Patrol and Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, who subsequently accessed and evacuated the victim.
Snowbird Ski Resort is scheduled to open Nov. 19. According to Grindtv.com, the avalanche that killed Pierre was one of several in Little Cottonwood Canyon area on Sunday. A skier suffered a pelvis injury in another slide. Skiers and snowboarders were cautioned by the Utah Avalanche Center, which listed the danger level as considerable.
Lee Cohen, a Powder magazine photographer who lives at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon, posted on Facebook: A great person, a little misunderstood at times, but anyone who knew him knows he had a heart of gold.
The Ski Channel wrote on its website: Jamie Pierre was near and dear to us here at The Ski Channel, and we had the pleasure of getting to know Jamie during the production of our 2010 film, 'The Story.' Not only did his performance in the film woo audiences around the country, but his 255-foot cliff huck on Fred's Mountain at the back of Grand Targhee is a world record! However, Jamie can probably be best characterized as a loving, devoted father, a master athletic craftsman and sweet human being. The loss of Jamie Pierre is tragedy for his family, the ski community and the world.
Between 2001 and 2008, Pierre appeared in films from Warren Miller Entertainment, Teton Gravity Research, Matchstick Productions, Level 1, Rage Films and others. In 2006, he set the World Record the Ski Channel mentioned for biggest cliff jump at Grand Targhee, Wyo.
Check out the video of the world record cliff jump below: