Extreme skier Julian Carr’s record-breaking cliff jumps have led him to a larger life
By Geoff Griffin and Kathleen Curry
Setting world records for flying high on nothing but skis requires a love of altitude. For Julian Carr, altitude is a place and state of mind where he’s always felt at home.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I always had a trampoline I was jumping around on,” Carr says. “And for some reason, every time I went to get off of the trampoline, I had to do a front flip.”
He started taking gymnastics classes at age 4 but paid little attention to the instruction. “I was always messing around in the foam pit,” he says, because he could drop into it from various heights and thrill to the feeling of flight. “I would climb up into the rafters and drop 40 feet into the foam pit. Those things are just built into me.”
Fast forward a few years to the time when Carr, who calls Salt Lake City home on his website JulianCarr.SquareSpace.com, was getting onto skis for the first time as an eighth-grader.
“It just clicked,” he says. “Right from the first day. As soon as I tried skiing powder, I instantly saw that a mountain is just a ridiculously sized version of the foam pit.”
From there, Carr skied his way to the top—literally and figuratively. He holds two world records for getting big air on skis. He set the World Record Invert by doing a front flip off a 210-foot cliff in Engleberg, Switzerland. Back in Utah at Snowbird, he did a front flip off a 140-foot cliff to claim World Record Cliff in a Competition. He refers to those numbers as his “baseball cards stats,” and emphasizes that there’s something deeper at work than digits.
“What drew me to both of those situations was how much I loved those mountains,” he says. “You fall in love with the cliffs and the byproduct of that is a world record.”
As for facing those dizzying heights on nothing but skis, “When I see pictures of those jumps,” he says, “I admit it seems ridiculous.” However, he notes that beyond the adrenaline rush is a calm sense of “meditation and hypersensitivity” as he soars through the air.
The accomplishments in Carr’s ski career also include appearing in more than a dozen films, including five Warren Miller productions and numerous television appearances, competitions, photo shoots for ski magazines and even stints writing stories and columns in various industry publications.
All the flying around on the slopes became a base from which he launched himself into other areas. He’s now a businessman and a public speaker. He’s spoken at the University of Utah Business School and given a TEDx talk. Carr approaches his off-mountain pursuits with the same mindset that took him off cliffs. “I think, like anybody, I’m just a curious person,” he says. “I like to be engaged with something.”
His desire to feel engaged has led to his successful business ventures. Discrete Clothing (DiscreteClothing.com) is a brand focused on clothing and accessories to keep skiers comfortable and stylish. The Discrete Cirque Series (CircqueSeries.com) is a summer mountain running series with a 2020 schedule that includes local races at Brighton, Alta and Snowbird, but also will travel to Arapahoe Basin, Colo., Grand Targhee, Wyo., and Alyeska, Alaska.
For the Cirque Series, Carr says, “I wanted to lend my skill and expertise of being in the high alpine country. It lets me use my skill and knowledge of where to go in those areas and tell other people about it.” It also doesn’t hurt that running a high-altitude running series, “has me in the mountains year-round,” he says.
As someone who cares about those mountains, Carr wants to make sure there will be plenty of snow to ski in years to come. To that end, he has become an advocate for addressing climate change. “I want to be educated about it at a minimum,” he says, and he looks to “align myself with organizations” that educate others about climate change.
Whether it’s advocating for the environment, public speaking, running a business or doing front flips off a cliff, Carr is guided by a quote from motivational speaker Zig Ziglar that he can reel off without a hitch and which he has posted on his website:
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.”