BY JOY SULLIVAN
We caught up with Jerry Meek, a Kenai Peninsula resident and BRAAAP Films athlete, to take part in our monthly Alaska Rider Profile series. Meek and his riding buddy Leif Hagen submitted a video for North Road Productions Amateur Sled Video Awards and won the overall competition. The prize was being featured in a BRAAAP video. With that he was introduced into the sled industry and has continued to excel and push the boundaries as an athlete. To follow Meek find him on Facebook.
Q: When did you first take interest in snowmachining?
A: My dad got me my first bump sled when I was 13. It was a short track 500 and I lived on that thing the first year I had it. I had a couple of years here and there that I got to ditch bang but I didn’t get into mountain riding until 2012. I got hooked pretty bad that year and was able to put on 1,200 miles in the backcountry.
Q: Is there someone in the industry who inspires you?
A: I’d say I love watching Cory Micku ride. That guy is so good! He’s just got style about his riding that’s noticeably different. But my main inspiration for snowmachining has always been my buddy Jed Brown. I’ve seen that kid do things on a sled that I’ve never seen any pro do! He has such a unique way he shreds – it’s ridiculous.
Q: What would you like to accomplish in your riding career?
A: I think my main goal is to just be in the mountains. When you’re up there, you feel closer to God, and the worries of home life, work and everything else doesn’t exist. It’s a beautiful thing. But also I definitely want to improve my whip game and get better at re-entries. While in Canada, I got a taste for the chute climbing and I could see that becoming an obsession, for sure.
Q: What snowmachine are you riding this season?
A: I just got a 2014 SkiDoo FreeRide 800 154. I picked it up this summer so I haven’t gotten to try it out. I rode the 2014 XM Summit in British Columbia and loved the eTec motor so I kinda have an idea of how it rides. I can’t wait to try it out. I rode a 2012 Polaris 800 155 Assault the last two years and absolutely loved it. It never gave me any issues in the 1,700 miles I put on it. Honestly I just wanted to try a different setup. I’ll probably switch back to Polaris when they come out with the next generation RMK. It should be good.
Q: Since we all know riding pays in fun, what is your day job?
A: I have an awesome job as a process operator at the Tesoro refinery in Nikiski. It’s a great place to work, and there are a lot of riders working out there so we’re always talking shop.
Q: What keeps you in Alaska?
A: I love Alaska, I’ve lived here most of my life. I’ve traveled quite a bit and there aren’t many places like it. It’s just so majestic. When we have a good winter, it’s hard to beat. I can’t see myself ever moving unless someone offered the right job and house in Squamish, B.C.
Q: Aside from riding, what other activities do you enjoy?
A: Mostly I try to spend as much as I can with my beautiful wife. We love to travel and I can’t wait to get her in the mountains on a sled! When I’m not riding sleds, snowboarding is my passion for sure. I also love downhill mountain biking, road cycling, and I just got into white water kayaking so that should be fun.
Q: You are a multifaceted athlete, you ride, film and produce … do you ENJOY doing all of that?
A: Filming is fun, but most days I just want to ride. If it weren’t for my partner Leif Hagan wanting to put a video together we never would have gotten on the BRAAAP team. Last year’s trip to BC was awesome for filming because Jaya (owner of BRAAP Films) was doing all of the camera work and he is a wizard with a camcorder. It was really neat to be able to just ride and let him work his magic. I definitely got some great filming tips from him as well. My ‘Adventure Videos’ as I like to call them, are just all about putting memories together. The Lord has blessed me with a fairytale life, an amazing family, and a solid group of friends and I love being able to put it all into a video and add some music to it.
Q: What kind of music motivates you as a rider?
A: I would have to say dubstep and electronic is my main hype for riding, but I also listen to a lot of rhythm & blues, George Thorogood type stuff too. Classics are key.
Q: You got to go to British Columbia to film for BRAAAP last season. What was the highlight of that trip?
A: Definitely it would be riding out of Sicamous with Rene St. Onge! He’s got a sweat lodge about 15 minutes from the trail head. Once you get into the mountains, the terrain is endless. You can ride two to three foot of fresh powder all day and never cross your tracks. The variety of terrain is probably what makes BC the mecca for backcountry riding. Pillows, tree riding, cornices, cliff drops … it’s all there.
Q: What sled did you ride while in BC filming?
A: We rode the 2014 SkiDoo XM Summit 154 and the 2014 Pro RMK 800 155 both great sleds.
Q: What are some of the differences in BC riding with Alaska riding and which do you prefer?
A: Probably the biggest difference is the snow type and availability of pillow drops. There were pillows everywhere! And the snow is perfect. Here in Alaska, the snow can often be a little heavy. And in Colorado I feel like it’s too light. But BC is the perfect consistency. Also you really have to pay attention to avalanche danger in BC. Bigger mountain faces means more potential for slides. I love Alaska riding on a good year but I choose a day of riding in BC over Alaska any day.
Q: Who are your current sponsors?
A: BRAAAP Films, Rehab Wraps, Peninsula PowerSports, IceRock Outerwear, AFX Helmets, & Eagle Valley Lodge.
Q: What does the future hold with you and BRAAAP?
A: I’d say my hopes are to get to meet and ride with more of the BRAAAP crew on their home turf. And maybe a couple of them can get up here to check Alaska out. Being on a team opened a lot of doors for me to ride other areas with guys like Rene and Jaya that know the terrain and love the sport. Not to mention the free riding lessons we got from Rene! I just hope we get some snow this year so we can put together a decent segment for next year’s film.
Jaya Lange owner of BRAAAP Films said this: “Jerry and Leif are amazing kids to work with, they are polite, aggressive, and snow smart! Really love finding guys like this that are up and coming, with potential for so much more! I look forward to many more years to come. Jerry is a ballz out rider and funny as hell!”
Go to Braaap.com to see local athletes Jerry Meek & Leif Hagan represent Alaska.
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