Photo: Dave Holland
Jungle Jim Hunter
Jungle Jim Hunter – Crazy Canuck, Broadcaster, Coach
Whether you meet Jungle Jim Hunter in his broadcast studio, on the street or hear his message over the airwaves, you will turn away inspired.
With the zeal of a preacher, Canada’s first Olympic medal male alpine skier has carved out a career as a high-energy motivator. He’ll go to any lengths to drive personal improvement, whether his motivational charm is directed at a teenage sport prospect or a boardroom CEO.
“Motivation is my life mission. It’s my job to inspire, communicate and educate excellence in life to everyone I meet,” he says. “If I get on an elevator, even if I’m going one floor, I make it my mission to say something to lift someone up.”
Hunter, 62, made his name as one of the original Crazy Canucks, the Canadian alpine skiers of the 1970s known for their fearlessness on the World Cup ski tour. Raised on the flatlands of Shaunavon, Sask., Hunter won an Olympic and World Championship bronze medal in the combined event in 1972, but is probably best known for his unorthodox training methods. There is video of him in a ski tuck testing aerodynamics on the roof of a moving pickup truck; spinning inside the rim of a tractor wheel and practicing starts down a hayloft in the family barn. It was part of the fabric of a young man driven to exceed his limits.
Photo: Courtesy Jungle Jim Hunter
Jungle Jim Hunter
Jungle Jim Hunter – winner of the 1972 combined Olympic and World Championship bronze medal.
Hunter says outside the influence of his father and mother, B.C. ski coach Larry Nelles played a big role in pointing a ragtag teen to the pinnacle of sport. “You felt like he could look right through you. He could tell whether you were really connecting your head with your heart, or whether you were just doing push-ups.”
The greatest motivator is someone who touches the heart before the head.
“Understanding motivation is understanding the character of a person,” Hunter says. “The greatest motivator is someone who touches the heart before the head. Until you touch the heart, you aren’t really motivating someone.”
Olympic bobsleigh driver Christina Smith may be Jungle’s biggest fan. “The first time I met him he walked right into my life through his words that inspired my heart. Within a minute he had said enough that I knew I had so much more to bring to life, that it has energized me every day.” Smith is continuing her sporting journey, currently studying at the Olympic Academy in Sochi, Russia.
Hunter has established himself as a broadcaster, author, motivational speaker and performance coach. He counts more than 1.9 million words of script for his productions on Rogers Sportsnet radio and he’s in the process of turning his work into a series of motivational and performance books and videos.
The trilogy includes advice on spending time on task; how to raise a champion (the secret: get out of the way and let them fail); and sport literacy, understanding the difference between being athletically gifted and performance literate (those athletes who know how to win on race day).
“I’m not about winning. There’s only going to be one person atop the podium,” Hunter says. “Life is about what you’ve done with what you have, to determine how much you’ve grown, how much better am I today than I was yesterday, because that’s improvement.”