It’s 6.45am as we roll through the gates of Scotty James’ Warrandyte home. The sun is rising and the heavy mist starts to lift in the backyard, clearing a postcard-worthy view of rolling hills and sun-drenched mountaintops.
He’s been home a week post Winter Olympics and while the celebrations continue there’s little down-time for this 23-year-old PyeongChang bronze medallist and double World Snowboard Halfpipe champion; his focus is still as strong ever. Like a true, dedicated athlete, he’s on a mission to do Australia proud and, it goes without saying, he certainly is doing just that.
It’s not every day you hear of a two-year-old shredding the slopes, but that’s how it all started for our Aussie superstar, whose first board was a $10 display board purchased by his father. By the age of three, young Scotty had developed a fascination with the sport and an unconditional bond with the slopes that only grew in strength, as did his determination to compete for Australia and chase his dream on an Olympic level.
Scotty has come a long way since being the youngest male of all competing nations at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics – when he was just 15. Now based in Colorado, in the US, he is fast becoming one of Australia’s greatest winter Olympians.
ACC was lucky enough to catch the young gun (just hours later he was flying out to Japan for more intensive training) for a quick chat about all things health, happiness and gruelling training regimes.
Australia watched and celebrated with you when you won a bronze medal at this year’s Winter Olympics and no doubt it’s been a busy and exciting few months since then. How are you feeling post games? I am feeling great post Olympics. It was so cool to be able to get back to Australia and celebrate the medal with my family and friends. Australia really got behind our winter team, which was an awesome feeling for us in PyeongChang. We could feel the energy coming from home all the way to Korea. The messages of support and enthusiastic fans at the event made it all the more enjoyable on competition day.
As a professional athlete from such a young age – just fifteen when you competed in your first Winter Olympics in 2010 – was it ever a challenge to stay focussed on your career when your friends were likely out partying and enjoying being teenagers?
It was really hard and it’s something I would think about a fair bit when on the road. There were a lot of moments where I thought, “I just want to be a normal kid at home with the family and go to school with my friends”. Looking back now I’ve realised just how fortunate I was to be given the opportunities that I experienced. It’s easy to lose perspective when your interest is somewhere else.
When you’re not training and competing, do you still snowboard just for fun or do you prefer to have a break and perhaps visit some warmer climates?
It’s one of the cool perks of my job. I get to enjoy riding the mountain with my family and friends as well as pursue my ambitions on the competitive stage. I definitely take the time to go out for fun. However, by the end of the competition season, I always look forward to a summer holiday!
You learnt to snowboard at just two years of age, did you always know you wanted to be a professional snowboarder?
I wasn’t a great skateboarder, surfer, wakeboarder or anything that resembles a snowboard, but I have always had a big passion for board sports and knew it was something I would pursue on the world stage…so I guess snowboarding picked me, which I’m very happy about!
Your family have publicly been a great support to you and are so proud of what you’ve achieved – how much of a role did your parents and family play in what you’ve been able to achieve? My family have been my rock since the day I set out on the journey. There’s been a lot of road blocks to overcome and being an Australian in a sport like snowboarding was a huge battle in itself, to name one. People come and go in your career and life, but your family are always there. The unconditional love is why they have played a huge role in my success to date.
People come and go in your career and life, but your family are always there. The unconditional love is why they have played a huge role in my success to date.
Aside from your family, who have been your biggest role models throughout your career? I have a lot of awesome role models in my life.
I’ve always admired people who have taken the leap to achieve what seemed so distant and what others said they couldn’t, because I feel I can relate to their story. I’ve been lucky to spend some time with some of Australia’s most iconic athletes in Mick Fanning and Daniel Ricciardo who I believe embody true sports people in Australia and globally. Modest, hard -working and genuinely good blokes.
What does your training on the slopes look like?
3-4 hours in the pipe everyday depending on the weather, usually with some goals set out and technical tweaks to be made pre-competition. But its also important to keep that spontaneity alight, it’s what keeps our sport creative.
And your training off the slopes? Talk us through your routine. If I’m in season, it consists of a more recovery- type session in the gym everyday, and depends on the time of season. When it’s off-season, I will be in the gym twice a day 9-11am, take a break for lunch and then 1-3pm session. Explosive power, mobility and aerobic work is what we base my training around.
We spoke recently about social media and its role in today’s industry – What’s your take on social media and has it helped build your brand?
I think social media definitely has it’s positives – it’s great way for brands and personalities to communicate directly with their audience, but it can also be a little toxic and a distraction. I think there’s a generation of people who might struggle to have a face-to-face conversation with a bit of eye contact in a few years. We’d all be doing ourselves a massive favour by limiting how much time is spent in social media La-La Land. It’s often a little fake and can leave you a bit disconnected from the important things in life.
Do you undertake any mental or psychological training in order to prepare for competition? I definitely do some mental training. I use most techniques I am taught when in training to test the mind when there’s a will to give up. Most importantly keeping the passion alive. That is what keeps a smile on my face regardless of the situation I’m in.
What does your day on a plate look like in the lead up to, and after a big day out boarding?
Being 6’2” I am controlled on what goes in when in competition. I’m strict around intake based around my training sessions. So I have enough to get me through but not carrying anything extra when I don’t need it. Most guys on tour will be around 5’10” to 5’11” so I need to be a little more strict to make sure my agility is as good, if not better, than everyone else.
What do the next few months bring for you?
Hopefully, some more time in Australia, travelling to Europe for some training camps, and attending a couple of footy games to watch the mighty Bombers fly.
Photography: David Higgs
Styling: Rebecca James
Creative Direction: Brooke Meredith