The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

GCC grad Ingle home from Winter Games


March 1, 2018

Submitted photo

SHAUN WHITE, thanking the half pipe crew in South Korea after winning the gold medal. From the left are Shaun White, Jake Ingle, Albert Zehtner, and Mark Pevny. Photo submitted by Jake Ingle.


Ironwood - Gogebic Community College Ski Area Management graduate Jake Ingle, who grew up in Appleton, Wis. is home in Petosky from the Republic of Korea, where he was instrumental in the construction and maintenance of the snowboarding half pipe used in the Olympic Games.

Ingle said, "GCC has opened almost every door for me. The knowledge gained on my internship at Copper (Mountain, Colo.) built a base in mountain operations and I used that to build my career."

Considering Ingle was recruited to build the half pipe at the Olympics, some might argue he has achieved the pinnacle of success, but Ingle would say when he enrolled in the SAM program in 1996, where he is now was not on his mind then. Ingle said it was an honor to go to South Korea and work with the local Korean team to create the showcase half-pipe.

Ingle said he grew up skiing before changing to snowboarding at 12.

"Throughout high school I was competing in the local USASA half pipe contests at Tyrol Basin, Blackjack and Marquette Mountain," he said.

It was during those competitions Ingle said he met a bunch of good snowboarders from throughout the Midwest and they were all migrating to Colorado to pursue snowboarding as a career. That sounded like a good plan and Ingle said he planned on following in their footsteps to Colorado after his senior year of school.

Ingle said his dad "firmly suggested" he look into some form of college, which led him to the SAM program at GCC. Ingle said it was the best of both worlds. He would be in Big Snow Country, which was already his favorite place to ride in the Midwest, and he would earn a degree in a field that suited his tastes.

In 1996, Ingle enrolled at GCC. In the second year of the program, he spent eight weeks on campus before leaving for his internship at Copper Mountain, leading to his graduation in 1997. At CM, he started in the "snowmaking department." After Christmas, he switched to the trail crew, which Ingle said was fun because he was on his board all day. Then in the spring he filled in for three weeks on the "Cat Crew."

Ingle said that internship helped show him the ropes and it was a bunch of former GCC graduates doing it. Jason Gusass was on the snowmaking crew, Matt Weiler on the trail crew, Bill Ninneman on the Cat Crew and slope maintenance manager Brian "Smoothie" Admuson all took turns showing Ingle the ropes. All the guys were graduates of GCC, according to Ingle.

The internship turned into six years of employment with snowmaking and grooming in the winter and lift construction and snow installation in the summer. Ingle said during this time they began building some of the first half pipes and terrain parks. Gusass took Ingle under his wing and the two of them began learning the art of grooming and cutting the pipe. They used a 12-foot green pipe dragon machine, whereas Ingle said now he uses a 22-foot machine.

After six years at Copper Mountain, Ingle said he took a job at Timberline Ski Area cutting half pipes and building terrain parks for summer snowboard camps on Mount Hood in Oregon. At this juncture, Ingle said he began learning about different snow conditions and developed his skill in pipe cutting. The summer snow, according to Ingle, was a different animal than winter snow.

Ingle said he stayed at Timberline through 2012, before accepting a park manager position at Mount Hood Meadows, where he recruited his friend and fellow GCC graduate Jason Stankevich to be his right-hand man. The U.S. snowboard team approached Ingle to help with Grand Prix events and he said he struck out on his own to build the Contest Series of snowboard competitions. Ever since, Ingle said he has been the exclusive pipe builder for the U.S. team.

Ingle said he keeps in touch with most of the guys from his graduating class. Many of them are managing ski resorts. According to Ingle. GCC's SAM graduates are a fraternity and keep in touch while looking out for each other. He says the world of the ski industry is small, so he loves finding out operators and snow-makers are GCC grads as he travels around to different resorts.

Ingle said he is going to take some time at home with his wife, Clare, and their new puppy, Maple. In a few weeks, he is scheduled to start building some spring parks and photo shoots and training camps. However, the four-year build-up to the next Winter Olympics will also start soon, but perhaps a camping trip to GCC and surrounding parts is in the cards this summer as Ingle said he has not been back to Ironwood or to visit GCC in a number of years.


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