One thing is abundantly clear at every mountain: some people get it, and some people don’t.
Now, this is perfectly okay. Everyone has their own approach to winter sports. Some just struggle more than others…
Introducing Colton Hardy. You don’t know Colton, but you probably know his Instagram account (it has over 478K followers), Jerry of the Day. A quick scroll through the feed, and you’ll come face to face with a classic character seen at every mountain: The Jerry. Also known as Joeys, Gapers, Beaters, Barneys, or Kooks; Jerrys stand out as they struggle their way down the slopes in between trips to the bar (or the hospital). While they are more often the butt of jokes than a topic of respectful discussion, they rarely receive credit for the vital role they play in mountain culture.
Deep down, we all have a little Jerry in us in some special way. That’s why we decided to sit down with Colton to figure out where we all fit in, and how we can enjoy ourselves a little more by opening our minds and embracing the Jerry.
So, Colton, where’s your home mountain, which is to say, where did you first develop your eye for the Jerry?
Stratton Mountain, Vermont.
What is it about that place that breeds Jerrys?
Well, at Stratton, I’d classify that Jerry as a “Joe-bag” Jerry. That’s what we used to call them. It was all people coming up from Long Island, NYC, New Jersey, with tons of money but no knowledge of skiing or snowboarding. They’ve got the classic: blue jeans tucked into rear entry boots or hard shells, rentals, Starter jackets, probably no goggles or anything. I feel like mountains that are Gucci, well-marketed and close to cities… Like Stratton, for example, it’s the mountain that’s furthest south, close to New York, a legit mountain that markets itself a lot. So it’s a good combo of being easy to get to and well-marketed.
Are there different species of Jerrys?
Yeah, in my mind the beauty in it is that there’s an endless amount of Jerrys. It’s just in doing a Jerry move, so that could be anything. Just doing something completely wrong and being oblivious about it.
For skiing and snowboarding, if you were to break it down for the classic split up of gaper types: the “Joey,” like I described, is my favorite, but then there’s the “footy” Jerry. Anyone that’s 100%, “it’s all for the shot!” Footy comes first. Safety is second. You see people shoving their cell phone between their goggles and their helmet to get the shot. And I’m guilty of this one because I’ve got my little footy device that I set up kind of funny sometimes. The Go Pro setups these days are kind of ridiculous. You see the guy with a 15-foot rod either strapped to his neck or coming out of his ass or something. You look at it and it’s like, wow, that’s a great way to break your neck, but it must be a great angle!
A classic one that tends to be at any skill level is the “full send” Jerry. That’s the one with a lot of epic crashes that people love and tend to go viral. Pretty much, someone does something going so big and so fast that you just ask, “What was going through your mind other than, FULL SEND?”
What would Jerry do? Denim and $500 goggles that are upside down.
After studying the Jerry for so long as one of the subject’s few professional scholars, have you discovered any truths about the world of winter sports?
A lot of industries have this, but people get hyped when they look at the Jerry. Squads of people love submitting themselves, and people unite around this idea. That has been a discovery for me. I think the “Jerrys Unite” vibe, where everyone’s a Jerry, everyone does stupid stuff, the ski industry loves it because it has all these hierarchies that a lot of people don’t even know or see.
You can take a lot of different routes with skiing or snowboarding. If you’re just having fun, you can kind of make a mockery of it, where for a while before I started this whole thing I saw the industry being just about the sickest edits with the most powder and pros one-upping each other. People uniting and taking a step back to laugh about this is really great.
Do you have any advice for would-be social media wizards?
The hard part is getting the initial following. For me, a huge thing was having a way for people to submit so you can get authentic material without having to go hunt and get things from people. But from there, just cross your fingers because the way things go viral on the internet is pretty random. As web nerds say all the time, content is key.
Anything you want to add before we sign off?
In general, staying PG and not trying to hurt people’s feelings is important. Embrace the whole thing, that “Jerry” is really just all about doing something stupid. We all do dumb shit and stupid stuff from time to time, so thank you to all the Jerrys out there. I’m honored every time I get to be the Jerry of the Day, but with so many people submitting I haven’t had to fill that role for a long time. But maybe I will today…