The Andy James Interview | Between Punter and Pro, Does Snowboarding Have a Glass Ceiling?

Shooting the shit...

If there’s one person who’s been pushing the limits in the snowboard scene Down Under the past decade, it’s Andy James. Whether it’s cutting laps with consistency and filming with the heavy hitting international crew up at his local resort, Perisher or travelling the globe to film video parts that are setting a crazy high standard here in Australia and New Zealand – he’s at the top of it all…but, is a little lost.

We caught up with Andy to shoot the shit on everything that’s going on in his world right now and address the looming elephant in the room.

Andy is pretty bonkers… | Image: Liam Glass

Transfer: Andy, how’s things? Where abouts are you currently?

Andy James: Good thanks man! Just hanging in the balance in Jindabyne! Trying to get as much boarding in as possible while we can.

What’s the vibe like in Jindabyne at the moment? Is it hard to get up the hill and ride with having to pre-book your days and all that jazz? Snowboarders ain’t the most organised bunch…

Haha yeah in a word, weird. It’s the worst snow conditions at this time of year in the last 20 years apparently which adds extra limitations to being able to get a spot to ride up the hill. The reservations to ride sell out in minutes so you have to be on to it as soon as they are released, it’s like buying festival tickets.

Have you ever tried to boardslide wood? | Image: Stéphane Fortier

You’ve been really focusing on your riding over the past few years. I speak for everyone when I say your one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere right now. What does Andy James do when it’s somewhat impossible to do much on snow this season?

Ah cheers mate! Um well generally just trying and stay as active as possible. Getting out of the resort and out into the wilderness to film some different stuff has definitely been on the cards but the lack of snow has been a bit of a dampener on that idea lately. But other than that I have been investigating going to TAFE and checking out educational possibilities as it’s hard to say if going overseas to board will be viable anytime soon.

Putting it all on the line | Image: Marc-André Séguin

Pre-Covid what were you up too overseas? Filming anything in particular?

I went to Japan to kick off the Northern winter but unfortunately they were having one of their worst snow seasons on record. The last day I rode there was on the 30th of January and it was 12 degrees and sunny, boarding on slush like the final days of the Aussie season! Was really fun anyway despite no pow, and it got me ready to start filming with SRD in Canada which was the next stop. Was definitely a tough season trying to film- I don’t really know many people who had a great season out there! And before you knew it, the winter came to a grinding halt when COVID hit and it was all over.

Blow after blow! What do you think the likelihood is at the moment to get back over to the Northern Hemisphere for the 20/21 season?

Damn hard to say, I’m not too optimistic at this stage but fingers crossed. Might have to pick up the mountain-board for a summer!

How is it being apart of the Quiksilver family now? Give us a rundown of the team trip you did for Holy Bowly last year! Looked like a rad crew.

Yeah Quiksilver is awesome and was a treat to have the crew out here last year for Snowboy Productions’ Holy Bowly Down Under at Thredbo!

Bryan Fox and Austin Sweetin ventured down the coast with some surf legends Joel Paxton and Matt Hoy and we all linked up for the event mid September. It was a big week of party boarding and hanging with the crew. It for sure got me hyped to go surf more haha.

The Holy Bowly Down Under | Image: Ian Cook

Free wetsuits…Gotta surf more!

Haha motivation!

How have you found rising the ranks as a snowboarder here in Australia? It’s no secret it’s hard. You think you’ve still got a lot left in the tank?

Hard is an understatement. It’s been almost a decade-long sacrifice of my time and energy to get a pretty small amount of recognition in the grand scheme of things. It may seem like I’ve climbed the ranks but more realistically, I’ve just been around for a while. The support I receive is great and I appreciate it a lot, but the majority of people would think I’m crazy to have perused snowboarding the way I have for the time I have been – Imagine working a job for eight years and only ever really getting given your staff uniform and paid a free lunch. This is the situation for a huge percentage of ‘sponsored’ snowboarders. People look at me and talk to me like I’m a ‘pro’ boarder, but the reality does not match the definition. So to answer your question of if I have much left in the tank, let me put it like this; I’ll never stop wanting to snowboard, but as you get older and continuously dedicate your life to something, it gets harder and harder to work full time towards a video part without appropriate support.

It’s not necessarily the sponsor’s fault – the money’s sometimes simply not there, or so it seems. I feel the relationship between marketing and product sales is hard to measure for the boarder who would rather work towards a video part than be solely instagram oriented because constant and frequent content creation is so relevant and important these days (to the distaste of many).

It’s hard to keep up when you want to surprise people with a video part – meaning keeping your footage under wraps for some time rather than feed the hunger for content. Since likes, follows and views are taken so seriously I guess the companies are stuck between a rock and a hard place financially – either support the person who’s going to keep most of what they are doing secretive until their part drops, or support the one who posts every other day. Times change and it’s is for sure important to have visual presence on social media. I’m not saying you do one or the other but it just can seem that way – people might get worries if you don’t post for a while hahaha. It just sucks to see meaningful video projects get swallowed up in the ocean of daily content. So in saying this, it’s more important than ever for the Aussie industry to reach out to the bigger fish overseas to help support local talent allowing boarders to become visible and rewarded on a proper scale if they can’t be helped adequately at home. It’s hard times for sure, but it would be cool to see people out here grinding get given more of a chance.

It seems like there’s a whole new gen of riders about to blow up. They’re hungry, talented and ready to chase it. What advice would you give these kids on the come up?

Being from Australia and trying to pursue snowboarding requires a massive amount of dedication. So don’t be afraid to politely ask for help if you think you’re deserving of it because especially in this day and age, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you make it as a pro snowboarder then congratulations that’s awesome, but if you don’t quite hit the mark you were hoping for, you need to know that it was not a waste of time because the experiences and the friends you make along the way are priceless. And regardless of the end result nothing lasts forever so don’t take it too seriously and just enjoy the ride for the love of it.

So I guess what I’m saying is make sure you stay happy when you’re snowboarding. Balance having fun with making sacrifices. Honestly snowboarding isn’t always fun – Filming a video part is the hardest work I think I will ever do and it is a downright punish some of the time. Not to mention the possibility of getting badly hurt. What you learn and take away from your experiences is what matters, and with snowboarding these experiences can be quite unique and are the reason you keep boarding.

King of the gap | Image: Brett Mills


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