Who is Scotty James?
Name: Scotty James
2016/17 World Snowboard Tour ranking: 1st
- 2017 X Games halfpipe gold medalist
- 2017 Burton U.S. Open halfpipe silver medalist
- 2-time world championships halfpipe gold medalist (2015, 2017)
- 2017 WST halfpipe season champion
James made his Olympic debut in 2010; the youngest rider in the field at 15 years old, he placed 21st in halfpipe while riding with a broken wrist. He returned to the Winter Games in 2014, competing in both halfpipe (21st again) and slopestyle (16th) but not posting strong results in either.
Thanks to an impressive 2016/17 season which saw him take a major leap forward and win several top-level contests, James is now a legitimate gold medal contender in halfpipe for the PyeongChang Games. He appears likely to pose the biggest challenge to Shaun White, the two-time Olympic champion and presumptive favorite for gold in 2018.
At over 6-feet tall, James is one of the tallest riders on the circuit and has learned to use his size to generate explosive amplitude out of the pipe. During the 2016/17 contest season, his growing arsenal of tricks expanded to include the backside double cork 1260, which became a staple of his runs. James has also developed into one of the field's most consistent riders.
This season, with the Olympics approaching, James has been exceuting some of the most technical runs in the field. He set a new bar at the Snowmass Grand Prix when he landed back-to-back 1260s and a switch backside 1260 in one of his runs. The switch backside 1260 is arguably the most technical trick currently being done in men's halfpipe.
James got his first taste of the sport as a 3-year-old while visiting New Zealand. There, he started off on skis but would just ignore the instructors and ski away, so he was put on a snowboard instead, in hopes that it would slow him down. He began entering competitions at age 6, then started riding halfpipe when he was 10.
James is one of the sport's most improved riders since the last Olympics. A key focus has been working with coaches to improve his air awareness and generate more amplitude. James won gold at the world championships in 2015 against a field missing many of the top riders, then earned bronze at X Games in 2016 in a contest that was shortened due to weather, but those accomplishments merely preceded a genuine breakout during the 2016/17 season.
2016/17 season recap
In seven key events, James had three wins (X Games, PyeongChang Olympic test event, world championships) and two runner-up finishes (Laax Open, Burton U.S. Open) in what was a breakout season. He also emerged as a legitimate challenger to two-time Olympic champion Shaun White. There were five events in which James and White both competed, with two victories going to James and two victories going to White. James was rewarded for his season-long consistency by finishing the year ranked No. 1 in men's halfpipe in both the World Snowboard Tour standings and the FIS World Cup standings.
Off the snow
Outside of snowboarding, James is also a ukulele player and a motorcycle rider. During the 2016/17 season, he launched a comedy web series called "All Day SJ," which revolves around his life as a pro snowboarder, on his YouTube channel.