I Do What I Love To Do – Smoking the Pipe With Scotty James
In Episode 2 of the What Does It Take podcast, flatland BMX champion Matthias Dandois interviews Australian halfpipe rider and three-times Olympian Scott James.
Between heats at the Laax Open, where Scotty has finished the qualifiers in first place, they talk winning, motivation and dealing with stress, before discussing how family, photography, patriotism and self-expression have shaped the real Scotty James. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
“We are few and far between when it comes to snow sports”
Mention Australia and snow sports are not the first thing that spring to mind. Yet Scotty James, age 25, from Melbourne, is a world-class halfpipe rider, with an Olympic bronze medal, three world championship titles, five XGames medals and a US Open gold in his trophy cabinet. “I am the only Australian in my field right now,” says Scotty. “I’m up against national riders that have access to halfpipe and slopestyle courses in their back yards.” Scotty is on a one-man mission to get a superpipe built in Australia: “It’s the biggest part of my success and when I go up to ride… It is an absolute dream.”
“They were definitely a big part of my success”
Scotty grew up in a family that loved mountain sports. Every winter, from Friday until Sunday his folks would take him, his brothers and sister to the local hill to ski. Scotty’s first board was a doorstop from a Canadian snowboard shop that his dad picked up for $10. “I had a tendency to ski away from my ski instructors,” remembers Scotty of why his dad bought it. “That will put him on his arse for a little bit” he says was his dad’s thinking. Scotty still has the board.
“Snowboarding was my kind of way to feel like I was being successful or doing the right thing”
Scotty won his first contest age 13, followed by wins at the Junior US Open and Laax Open. Then in 2010, age 15, he became the youngest male athlete to compete in an Olympic Games; a record he retains to this day. He has continued to add to his tally, winning Olympic bronze, three world championships, five XGames medals and gold at the US Open. “That feeling of winning never gets old,” he admits. “I absolutely love it and crave it all the time.”
“I just try to keep a positive head on my shoulders about the whole thing”
The inclusion of action sports to the “big franchise” that is the Olympics is a hot topic right now; like the Marmite commercial says, “you either love it or you hate it.” Scotty is in the camp of lovers, as he sees it as an opportunity to show the world what action sports is all about. “You do you and I’ll do me and we’ll grow it together” is his attitude. “We are all still snowboarding!”
“There is a lot more to being an athlete”
Everybody seems to agree, Scotty James “is the funniest guy in snowboarding.” Last year Scotty, in the company of two of his brother, filmed a seven part web series, called ‘All Day SJ’. He describes as being “a good combination of life as an athlete and good comedic spin.” It is undeniably funny and in combination with his frequent social media posts you can see where people are coming from.
“If we were all the same it would be a bloody boring world”
Being an Aussie snowboarder already sets Scotty apart from many of his countrymen but there is a lot more to him than sliding sideways on snow. He is passionate about film photography because of the process and because, in this time of instant gratification, it gives him time to take an in-depth look at the world that surrounds; he also cares how what he does can affect his audience: “Sometimes it is easy to loose perspective of how much you are actually influencing people to snowboard,” he says. “We’re really positively influencing people to go for what they want.”
Catch this and other groundbreaking interviews on What Does It Take, with Matthias Dandois, every Wednesday at 6pm CET, from April 1, 2020.
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What Does It Take is produced by ASI Media Events and Maniac Studios for Red Bull Media House.