Scotty James: Athlete Biography

In February 2010, at the Cypress Mountain halfpipe in Canada, Scotty James became the youngest ever Australian to compete at the Winter Olympics. He had a freshly fractured wrist, which he ignored, and had yet to start year nine at the high school he attends on the rare occasions when he actually physically attends. (James spends around nine months of the year traveling the world.)

But if being the youngest Australian Winter Olympian ever sounds like a suspiciously qualified boast – sure, but how many Australian athletes concentrate on winter sports? Consider this: he is also the youngest male winter Olympian from anywhere in the world… for the past 50 years. Younger than any Austrian, German or Frenchman. No North American. Nobody from Scandinavia, either.

Scotty James started very young. “I started skiing when I was about one,” he says. “I didn’t start snowboarding until I was three.”

They don’t make snowboards that small, but Scott’s father Phil found a bizarre one-off in Canada. “That was funny,” says Scotty. “Dad saw a little board in display as a joke – it was only ten bucks. It was tiny. I ride 157s now and it was just 80cm. Everyone thought it was a skateboard when he brought it home… ”

James was competing by the age of six. At 10 he was beating the older kids, and moved from racing and into the halfpipe. He first competed on the international circuit as a 14-year-old at the 2008 Europa Cup in Saas Fee, Switzerland, despite already having a kneecap that dislocates randomly when he, say, sits down, making the transition from “being the top kid, this sick junior, to starting all over again in Men’s.” A 15th in the World Cup event at Stoneham, Canada, prior to the Olympics secured his place and a description, by The Australian newspaper, as “the world’s coolest schoolboy athlete”.

Despite a crashed first run, an impressive string of double and triple spins landed him an Olympic 21st in the world. Had James been allocated the other side of the draw, he’d have reached the semis. He’ll be back. In the meantime, he’s busy. Scotty has chalked up priceless experience at the European X Games, graced Open halfpipe podiums in both hemispheres and is pushing his limits at exclusive training camps. “You’ve got to man up and just go for all those new tricks,” he says. “It’s pretty scary but that’s what you’ve got to do if you want to stay on top.”

SHREDDING UP 2012

Scotty spent three months of 2012 based in Colorado where he made an appearance at more events than Shaun White.

“I’ve been over in the States doing a whole bunch of contests,” he says. “I’ve actually been based in Colorado and just shredding there and going back and forth from there to Europe.I started off with the Grand Prix in Cobber and then the Dew Tour at Bracken Ridge in Colorado, then I headed off to the World Snowboarding Championships in Oslo in February and went straight from there to a World Cup in Quebec, then did the Canadian Open and the US Open."

To finish the year, Scotty took part in the Red Bull athlete camp in Aspen. All this, while still keeping up with the pressures of school work! Given his tender age, the only way is up for Scotty James, who's looking forward to an epic 2013.