Jaeger Bailey, Real Snow veteran, dies at age 26
Jaeger Bailey, 26, died on Wednesday in Mammoth Mountain, California. Bailey finished 4th in Snowboard Street at X Games Aspen 2013 and also competed in the 2014 Real Snow video contest. He was best known for his wildly innovative video parts for Think Thank, Absinthe Films, and Snowboarder Magazine, among others. Among his recent accomplishments, he won the 2018 Hot Dawgs & Hand Rails contest at Bear Mountain in California, and was featured in the 2016 Absinthe video "/fterForever."
"On the evening of December 25, 2019, snowboarding lost one of the most colorful, charismatic, creative, talented, and authentic individuals to ever strap in and send it," wrote Snowboarder Magazine editor Pat Bridges, in an emotional tribute on Thursday. "Jaeger is mostly remembered by the snowboarding masses for his endless stream of WTF moments, including but not limited to the Christ Air backflip, closeout hang-up frontflip, 540 erection plant, double-backie-to-knuckle-to-nollie-frontflip-out, and many, many, many more. Ultimately, Jaeger's legacy in snowboarding looms larger than his 5'2" height, but for those who knew him personally, his good nature, wide smile and fearless style will be what we miss the most."
Bailey opened 2013 with a 4th place finish in the Snowboard Street at X Games Aspen, where he impressed with a backside 270 wallride to frontside 180 out and a frontside 180 switch nosepress, and took the Snowboarder Magazine Rookie of the Year Award later that year, largely in recognition of his part in the Think Thank video, "Brain Dead Heart Attack," directed by Jesse Burtner.
"Jaeger was just such a passionate kid," Burtner told XGames.com on Thursday. "He just had crazy good energy and you could see it in his snowboarding. My first impression of him was that he was going to make it no matter what, he was going to get in the videos, he was going to make it in snowboarding, just off of sheer drive and because he was a one-of-a-kind athlete. He really has done a lot of tricks that no one else on the planet has ever done or probably will ever do. One of my favorites from our projects together was his double backflip to land on the knuckle and pop right into a frontflip. That was one of the craziest things I've ever seen in my life."
Burtner says many of Bailey's best film clips and never-been-done tricks were first-try attempts. But he was also known for his long and dramatic sagas to film some tricks.
"He would get really fired up battling a trick if he didn't get it right away," Burtner says. "He'd be trying some super technical trick and he would yell and scream, like, 'Come on!' We'd be getting kicked out of a spot, the cops were coming, but he'd take it to the very last second and usually get it."
Kevin Westenbarger worked with Bailey on a number of video projects over the years, including as a still photographer for Bailey's 2014 X Games Real Snow entry and on projects for Bailey's sponsors Bataleon Snowboards and Mammoth Mountain.
"For the Real Snow project we went up to Calgary, Canada and the first trick he wanted to film was a handstand on this railing into a boardslide 270 off a roof," Westenbarger recalls. "He had the unique out-of-the-box circus trick stuff like that but he also could do any trick anyone else was doing at the time. He had it all."
Scott Stevens, who competed in the 2012 X Games Real Snow contest and was featured in the Think Thank videos "Brain Dead Heart Attack" and "Mind The Video Man" alongside Bailey, says they first met when Bailey was an up-and-coming camper at the High Cascade Snowboard Camp in Oregon.
"I remember he was a young guy then -- I'm 10 years older than him -- and he came up to me and just kind of opened up about how much I'd influenced and inspired him," Stevens says. "It's not often that someone pours it out to you like that but he was super sincere about it. And then I feel like he did nothing but influence and inspire me in return for years after that. It's only good things I have to say about the guy. His impact on me was pretty heavy. Losing him cuts deep."
Though Stevens and Bailey were in some of the same videos, Stevens says filming video parts can sometimes be a more solitary experience than it might seem.
"I never got to film with him as part of a crew as much as it might appear from the videos we were both in, and that almost made it more fun to see the end product," Stevens says. "Like, 'Where the hell did you come up with that idea?' He loved getting those clips! It's a high: getting the clip and sharing it, stoking your friends out, stoking yourself out. He was on the map for doing astonishing stuff that nobody could really wrap their head around. He'd take it there, do the tricks that were completely outlandish, like the clip flip at Superpark, which was one of my most speechless moments. And there were a lot of moments like that. He'd be out there doing double corks one minute, then flipping in and out of rail tricks, then he'd be walking around on his hands with his snowboard in the air. It's insane what he did over a very short time, all the tricks he invented and reinvented. He did such dangerous stuff so effortlessly."