Things You Do Not See on the Slopes: The Teton Juggler

Gregg Frantz | | Industry NewsIndustry News

Many people participate in skiing throughout the winter season, and even professional skiers routinely practice juggling while balancing on ropes to hone their agility, balance, and focus. However, not many people bring the two together and ski down a black diamond slope, hit a feature, or do a backflip while juggling as Joe Cronquist does.

Joe Cronquist, a native of Anchorage, AK, is like many other people today, searching to find meaning and a purpose in the world. Joe, AKA the Teton Juggle, saw a spark in his life about five years ago when he started to learn to juggle. He had been skiing since he was 12 but found a new passion in juggling, which he soon immersed himself in. Cronquist soon merged the two disciplines and said that he hit a jump while trying to juggle and managed to land it, and that is when he felt that “spark” in his life he was searching for.

It is not every day you see someone skiing while juggling, and I asked Cronquist what the resorts said to you when he first started skiing down the mountain. He said, “It wasn’t good at first, but they (ski patrol) saw that I was in control and wasn’t hitting anyone.”  Cronquist also added that the ski patrol gave him a chance, and that was something he was very appreciative of. He said, “I was being proper, courteous, and respecting others, and ski patrol saw that.

When talking to Cronquist, it became apparent that he was not doing this for self-gratification or any affirmation for himself. Throughout our chat, he always mentioned “the stoke” and what it meant to see other skiers, riders, and guests watch him juggle and ski and how that affected them. It was easy to see that making other people feel good about themselves, feel excited, and bring joy to people around him was important to Cronquist.

Cronquist said that he understood the pressure and darkness that COVID-19 brought to the world but also stated, “I saw people’s expressions and the joy it brought to people around me when they saw me juggling. He recalled the season of 2021/22 when ski restrictions were lifting, but he could still sense people’s fears and apprehensions concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, in the season of 2021/22, there were still regulations and mandates regarding the pandemic at ski resorts throughout the country, and watching a skier flying down the slopes doing back flips while juggling would probably bring excitement and smiles to anyone’s face.

“The Teton Juggler’s” pursuit is to go through life’s journey, follow his intuition, find his own “flow,” and merge with the moment. Cronquist found his “flow” when he combined the two disciplines of skiing and juggling and brought them together. However, the “flow” to Cronquist is also about bringing out the happiness, excitement, and joy in others when they see him skiing and juggling (Skuggling). He said he had received feedback from guests throughout his journey, and they said it was the day’s highlight for them.

When looking to the future, Cronquist said, “I would like to have my own independent show to bring the excitement and the ‘stoke’ to a mountain. His vision would entail performing lift-line entertainment while people wait to board the lifts, doing a “Hollywood Line” while hitting moguls and getting reactions from the people in the lift above him, and hitting tree lines and bringing the excitement and energy to the guests. He also stated that hitting features and jumps is something he wants to continue to do and improve on. Cronquist said, “Flip juggling is a big deal for me,” and doing a backflip while juggling, sticking the jump, and maintaining control of the clubs throughout the process is something not many people on the planet can do.

I did ask Cronquist how difficult was it for him to start juggling while skiing and how did you prepare to do this? He said that he had been skiing a lot in the previous years in Jackson Hole and spent a lot of time in the backcountry, hitting as much fresh pow as possible. He had only been juggling for about five years, but he said that he loved it and spent many hours a day practicing it. He said, “Learning to juggle blindfolded, working with rhythm and staying in that” was important, and “Keeping throws in a tight pattern for about 10-15 minutes helps to improve focus on skiing.” 

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