Profile: James Sweet
Cornwall has its very own pro snowboarder. James Sweet has made that magical leap from the beach to the mountains and is flying the flag for Kernow in competitions across Europe. We meet up with the 28-year-old boarder at home in Bude.
AC: How long have you been snowboarding?
JS: I’ve done eight winters in the Alps!
AC: How did you get into it?
Growing up around surfing, I got the opportunity to try snowboarding on a school trip to the mountains. I was hooked!
AC: Who are your sponsors?
JS: Westbeach UK, Airculture and Attla Snowboards
AC: What have been your biggest successes?
JS: I’ve got in the top ten in a few big air contests and I won the Boss de Bosses, a mogul riding contest a couple years back. It was well funny!
AC: What’s it like rubbing shoulders with some of the best snowboarders in the world?
JS: Its rad! They are so motivated and fun to be around. It really gives you huge confidence in your own riding.
AC: Who are your sporting heroes?
JS: Snowboarding hero has got to be this guy called Terje Haakonsen. He has pushed the sport so far, through complete domination on the competition scene for ten years, boycotting the Olympics and setting up the current world tour. He even broke the record for the highest air last year. I used to watch his video Subjekt Haakonsen on repeat when I was 16. Kelly Slater is another that I’ve always enjoyed watching. I’ve seen him surf in real life a few times – he’s mind blowing!
AC: What’s next in your snowboarding career?
JS: I’m hoping to get lots of filming and photos done. It’s fun to push yourself in this way and it keeps the sponsors happy too. I’m also looking to finish my instructor qualifications, by doing some work experience with McNab snowboarding camps, and then maybe go to NZ to coach next July.
AC: Where’s your favourite place to snowboard?
JS: Chamonix is my home from home.
AC: What’s an average day on the slopes for you?
JS: Depends on the snow. If it’s deep fresh powder, I like to get up before everyone and get the first lifts when they open. Or if it’s a nice sunny day, it’s great just to hang out doing laps of the snowpark with your friends.
AC: Which aspect of snowboarding do you like best?
JS: I like all types of snowboarding.
AC: Do you ride with anyone else from Cornwall?
JS: I do. My flatmate Micky and my girlfriend Charlotte come with me. Micky has been riding for years too – he rips! Also my friend James Stentiford, who is a well known rider, lives just over the border in Devon. We all shred Chamonix.
AC: How long do you get in the snow each year?
JS: About 100 days.
Born to Ride
AC: How do you keep in shape during the off season?
JS: I love surfing and try to stretch a bit – notice how I say try!
AC: Where do you call home now?
JS: Bude, always.
AC: Do you do any other adventure sports and if so how have they helped your snowboarding?
JS: Surfing helps loads, gives you strength and teaches you how to be fluid. Skateboarding gives you great balance. I do a tiny bit of trampolining too.
AC: What is it about snowboarding that grips you?
JS: The free feeling you get from living in the hills.
Just Do It
AC: What tips would you give to someone who wants to get into snowboarding?
JS: Learn in the UK for a few days on a dryslope or snowdome, then go on a budget holiday to Europe. You can get some good deals on holidays if you look around.
AC: How do you see the snowboarding developing?
JS: I think you are gonna see kids that have never been on real snow becoming among the best in the world!
Interview by Will Heathcote