His season couldn’t have been much bigger with X Games gold, defending his world title and taking home his second Crystal Globe.
“It was a pretty great year and awesome to reflect on,” James said. “I was very happy and excited at how it all turned out.”
This year, there’s a big goal on the horizon and it all begins for the 23-year-old in USA at Copper Mountain this weekend at the Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup as a step towards the PyeongChang Olympics and the only major prize not on his already golden resumé.
A veteran of two Olympics, the lessons learned and maturity gained since he made it onto the Vancouver team as a fifteen-year-old at the last minute is being put to good use.
“Life has changed. I think I’ve developed more as a person and as a rider, and starting to make better decisions for myself,” he said.
“There have been a few transitions in my performances because I’m always looking at how I can better myself and in life too – there’s been lots of changes from that side.”
“There’s always been my will to win but I’m my team better and that’s had a huge impact. More maturity of course, but a wealth of experience and I am making better decisions.”
“The experience is huge. It’s been an awesome ride for me so far which has been fantastic.”
James has been reported as the most recognised Australian sports star in USA and any added expectations that may bring are easily borne.
“That’s an error people make - by putting people on a pedestal. I didn’t do that (before) and I don’t do it now,” he said.
Now based in USA, James is aware of the pitfalls that come with a high profile, especially surrounding the expected showdown between him and the 31-year-old two-time American Olympic gold medallist, Shaun White.
“It’s Shaun who has earned the credit to have, but he is beatable, and he is human. We are all made out of the same thing and it’s about where you position yourself. I just focus on my goals and what I need to do. I know if I do the work I can show up and do well.”
Appreciative of his large fan base in North America, James has enjoyed the past year.
“It (the recognition) doesn’t faze me too much. I do what I have to do and don’t let too many things get in my way. Getting exposure has been great. They’re very cool fans in America. It’s been fantastic, especially with the success I’ve had in last year.”
“Snowboarders have the opportunity to wear whatever they like. We don’t have uniforms or anything like that apart from Olympics. You can dress however you want. That’s a fun aspect and gives people the opportunity to do what they want.”
“I totally get it,” he says of some of the more flamboyant gear. “It attracts kids to the sport. When I was a kid, I was dressing absolutely ridiculously.”
Not so ridiculous are the now signature red boxing gloves, giving the nod to Australia’s famous sporting icon – the Boxing Kangaroo.
The Australian Olympic Team’s official glove supplier and manufacturer XTM has come to the party designing a combined snow and boxing glove for James to wear in PyeongChang.
Away from the limelight, hard work was how James spent the Australian winter in Warrandyte and at twice-daily endurance and fitness sessions.
“Preparation has been about spending a lot of time at the VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport) and utilising that as much as possible.”
“I miss being home, seeing my family. I really am a home body and love Warrandyte - seeing all my friends and just doing normal things like going out for breakfast and playing with my dog.”
“Having a pipe here (in Australia) would be something I’d like to work on over the years to potentially make that happen. It would be fantastic for the kids.”
For now, there’s a busy competition schedule in run-up to PyeongChang. James will begin his season at the Copper Mountain FIS World Cup this Sunday morning 5am (AEDT), then the Dew Tour event at Breckenridge and possibly two more World Cups before defending his X Games title before PyeongChang.
Scotty James will be joined at Copper Mountain by fellow Aussies Nate Johnstone and Kent Callister. 18-year-old Emily Arthur, who is looking to making her Olympic debut next February, will also be in the starting line up in the Women’s event.
Watch all the action live on Eurosport from 5.00am (AEDT).