Bellevue native Jordan Niedrich was a budding entrepreneur about to graduate from Utah State University when he took one last trip up Bald Mountain in Sun Valley Saturday for "ski flying."
An eyewitness told the family the 24-year-old "had just done a barrel-roll and did a second roll and didn't have enough height," his father, Doug Niedrich, said Monday.
"He was on top of his game; he just miscalculated," Doug Niedrich said. "He died doing what he loved."
The sport, similar to paragliding but with a smaller "speed wing," involves launching off the top of a slope then gliding close to the surface as the skier descends.
Jordan Niedrich crashed on the Upper Greyhawk run on the Warm Springs side of the mountain around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the Ketchum Fire Department reports. Firefighters and Sun Valley Ski Patrol members carried him to the parking lot on a toboggan, trying to resuscitate him on the way to the hospital, where he was later declared dead.
It's some comfort to the family to hear that he didn't suffer, or have time to be afraid before the fatal crash, Doug Niedrich said. Still, he said, "there are no words to describe our loss."
"He was such a gift to the family, to the community: He was a bright light."
On Sunday, the day after the fatal crash, more than 200 people trekked to the top of Bald Mountain for an impromptu memorial for Jordan Niedrich, his father said. Then they skied down the mountain in a procession led by younger brother Michael Niedrich.
"It was a beautiful tribute. It was so touching to have so many people there on such a special day," Doug Niedrich said, noting that Sunday was the last day of skiing Bald Mountain and, dubbed Gaper Day, traditionally was "Jordan's favorite day on the mountain."
Jordan, the third of Doug and Lisa Niedrich's four children, had traveled home to help his father, who is recovering from major surgery, with the family's tree farm south of Bellevue. Born and raised in the Wood River Valley, he was "a true mountain-town kid," Doug Niedrich said.
"He was an incredibly gifted athlete: long board, rock climbing, tennis, mountain biking. He rode unicycles down mountains."
He studied business marketing and entrepreneurship at Utah State and had several business enterprises set up for this summer, including buying a sprinter van and reprising the Pro-gression sports camp he and his brother Michael ran to share their love of mountain activities with children ages 8 to 12.
He is survived by his parents, Doug and Lisa Niedrich; sister Lindsay and brothers Michael and Kyle.
Friends set up a Jordan Niedrich Memorial Fund page on GoFundMe to raise money to help the family with funeral and medical costs and air fare to bring Jordan's siblings Michael, Lindsay and Kyle home. In one day, it exceeded its initial $20,000 goal.