Hunting for Jerry

One man’s Instagram quest to capture everything ridiculous in skiing

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue (44.1) of POWDER Magazine.

Exhibit A: The Jerry. We’ve studied the curious case for years. Its many manifestations usually involve denim, clogging the lift line, the uncontrollable urge of going fat to flat, and braving unbearable cold without any regard for personal safety. The Jerry is either the most clueless or the toughest skier on the mountain, and now, thanks to a simple photo and caption, it has its very own modern-day documentarian. Colton Hardy, a 26-year-old tech consultant from Burlington, Vermont, is the mastermind behind Instagram phenomenon @JerryOfTheDay, a mobile archive dedicated to bringing us the dopiest downhillers in snowsports. The former University of Vermont ski racer began posting funny Internet pictures and captions during his college race days, but it wasn’t until his feed caught fire last fall that JOD exploded onto skiing’s social media scene. Now more than 134,000 followers are turning to JOD for their daily dose of on-piste ridiculousness and a reminder that no matter how hard we pretend otherwise, there’s a little Jerry in all of us.

Kade: Who is Jerry?
Colton: Jerry has a lot of different names—Joey, gaper, or my personal favorite, Joe-bag. It’s basically anyone who is doing something stupid or funny on the ski hill who is in their own world and oblivious to anything around them.

So where did Jerry of the Day come from?
The first actual Jerry of the Day was when I was training with the UVM Alpine Team and one of my teammates brought four pairs of boots to do all sorts of testing and stuff, but forgot his shinguards, so he couldn’t even train. He had all this over-the-top stuff and forgot his essentials, so I took a picture and uploaded it to Facebook. From then on when the team saw something funny, we’d post it as Jerry of the Day and…once I started posting to Instagram, people started reposting and it just went viral.

What’s your experience with Jerry?
We’d always pick them out of the crowd when we were younger when I was skiing Stratton. In my mind, Stratton is definitely up there as a Jerry epicenter—it’s the mountain everyone with money goes to from New York or Jersey. I basically grew up watching hooligans come up, spend $20,000 on a weekend, and have their goggles upside down the entire time.

Are there other epicenters?
The East Coast has plenty, but the West is all about Colorado—especially Aspen. It’s pretty outrageous how many photos came from that area. It’s definitely a hot spot for Jerrys. But it’s any place that’s well-marketed and close to a city with income, if we want to break it down.

Does anyone get pissed that you’re posting photos of them?
I haven’t really gotten any hate mail, but I had to stop posting kid pictures because people got a little weirded out by that.

You get the occasional celebrity post in there. Any repeat offenders?
I’ve done a lot of Tiger Woods, Kanye, Kim Kardashian, and crew, and even a few of Paris Hilton.

Kim and Paris on the sponsorship program yet?
I should really let them know I’ve been posting about them all year long. If Paris Hilton jumped on board, I wouldn’t be angry—let’s leave it at that.

What’s your go-to Jerry look?
I’m all about the Starter jacket, preferably a football team, and Levi jeans tucked into rear-entries. It’s just the classic.

Are you going to get into Jerry hunting full time now?
There are probably easier and better ways to have a career, but if I could figure out a way to set up a Jerry hunting post, almost like a deer stand, sniping Jerrys with a long-lens camera and camouflage. That route would be pretty funny.

What’s the best part of JOD?
The amount of pictures people send me, it’s outrageous. It blew up way more than I thought it would. I get sent, on average, 250-300 photos and videos a day. Sometimes I don’t have enough free time to scroll through them all. There aren’t too many things in the ski industry we can all laugh at and agree upon. It’s not everyday you have something in common with a Nordic skier. There’s really a Jerry for everyone.

How is JOD battling skiing’s rad epidemic?
I think it’s good to pull back and realize we’re all Jerrys in real life—we all do stupid shit. Skiing is definitely one of those sports where ego is a very real thing, and everyone is standing in the lift line looking around, sizing up those around them. It doesn’t really matter how good you are. Laugh about it, and stop trying to be radder than everybody else.

Marquee image: Colton Hardy sends one for the boys. PHOTO: Rick Levinson