His third and final run in today’s competition not only secured James the individual World Cup victory, but he takes home the overall 2016/2017 Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup series crown.
In an Australian first, Scotty James is the current World Cup, World Championship and X Games champion. He wears three of the four major world snowboard halfpipe crowns, the fourth being Olympic glory.
“I am absolutely over the moon!” James said.
“I knew what I had to do to come away with a win today and I just had to let the rest do the talking.
“To come away on top is just an amazing feeling.”
The two-time VIS Olympian qualified for the final in fifth place. After a shaky start, only scoring 24.75 points in the first run of the final, James returned to his exceptional form to score 92.25 in the second run, before his series winning 96-point performance.
“The first one was just trying to get the jitters out,” the 22-year-old said.
“I unfortunately came unstuck, but was able to put the next two down and probably the run of my life on the last one.
“I knew I had to mix it up to come away with a win today, especially with a field like there is here.”
To claim the win, James had to defeat legendary American snowboarder Shaun White.
White is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, and winner of 24 winter and summer X Games medals in
snowboarding and skateboarding.
Winner of the Mammoth World Cup last weekend, White threatened James’ victory today, finishing second overall, a mere one point behind James with a score of 95. China’s Yiwei Zhang won bronze with 93.25.
James entered the final World Cup event sitting in second place on the overall leader board with 1700 points, trailing American Chase Josey by 260 points.
His victory at Bokwang Snow Park scored him 1000 points towards the discipline world standings and he claimed the overall series with 2700 points.
Josey finished second overall with 2360 points and White won bronze with 1930 points.
James is having the season he’s always hoped for.
After finishing in the top 10 for all World Cup events this season - including winning silver in Laax in January – the 2015 World Champion won gold in the men’s SuperPipe at the 2017 Aspen X Games on Australia Day.
“I am in a really good place at the moment on my board and off my board – life is really good.
“I’ve made big changes in my off-season and my pre-season. I started to take myself a little bit more seriously and approach it with a different attitude, and I will continue to do that.”
To further sweeten today’s glory, his win comes at the Test Event for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
According to James the pipe itself is exceptional, as is the atmosphere in PyeongChang.
“It has been an amazing week here in Korea – they have put on an amazing event for us.
“I absolutely love South Korea. The people here have been awesome, everyone loves snowboarding and is very supportive and helpful.
“And then the halfpipe obviously - they really turned that up for us.
“They’ve put on a really good pipe and I’m sure it’s going to be exactly the same next year, so I think we can expect another really fierce competition in a year’s time.”
Teammate Kent Callister also qualified for today’s 10-man final, finishing in eighth place; while Nate Johnstone finished 31st.
In the women’s competition, 2016 Youth Olympian Emily Arthur had her first top-10 finish for the season, placing 10th with a run of 72.25. Triple Olympian Holly Crawford placed 13th and is now heading to Sapporo to represent Australia at the Asian Winter Games.
Although the World Cup season has come to an end, it is not the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter season for our snowboarders. James will now fly back to the US for the next American Cup, before defending his World Championship title in Sierra Nevada, Spain in March.
And he cannot wait for more to come.
“I’m in a really good place now, but I’ve still got a bit of a fire under my butt!
“I still want to keep on pushing and I’ve got stuff to work on to keep solidifying my place on top of the podium.
“I’ve now got a bit of a target on my back, but I like this position and I will keep working hard to make sure I can stay on top.”
IMAGE: Halfpipe World Cup podium with (ltr) 2nd Shaun White (USA), 1st Scotty James (AUS) and 3rd Yiwei Zhang (CHN) in Bokwang Phoenix Park. Photo: Mateusz Kielpinski