James eyes halfpipe only in 2018
1 September 2015
SNOWBOARD: Australia's premier men's halfpipe rider Scotty James will follow the lead of an increasing number of snowboarders by concentrating on the one event for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
With the introduction of a new discipline, big air, for Pyeongchang in three years' time the temptation might be to load up in the different formats to increase medal chances.
But James, who'll look to become Australia's first men's snowboarding medallist at his third Games in South Korea, says it will likely be halfpipe only for him.
"My main focus is halfpipe," he said.
"With snowboarding developing at the rate it is, it's hard to do more than one discipline."
It was something of a lesson learned for James who failed to progress from qualifying in the halfpipe at the Sochi Winter Olympics after backing up from two rounds of slopestyle.
James hurt his ribs and "man bits" during that competition and wasn't up to his usual standard during his preferred event of the halfpipe where he has been a world champion and medalled at major events such as on the Dew Tour.
Shaun White, then regarded as the world's premier snowboarder, pulled out of the slopestyle competition after practice but then also failed to make the podium in the halfpipe.
After some public misgivings about government funding for his sport before and during the 2014 Games, Scott said things were now far more positive.
"The support from OWIA (Olympic Winter Institute of Australia) has been awesome, we've really moved forward as a team," he said.
James has been training at Perisher during the Australian winter but much like two-time Olympic snowboard medallist and teammate Torah Bright has eschewed Southern Hemisphere competition.
He'll likely peruse a selection of professional events in the Northern Hemisphere winter as well as compete in some World Cup competition.
The split in the international snowboarding ranks can be quite confusing for outsiders; the Ticket to Ride (TTR) tour usually attracting the best riders while World Cups and World Championships are frequently less competitive.
James said he still hoped to see the day where the sport came together under the one banner.
"All snowboarders wonder the same thing at times," he said.
"I would love to see snowboarding come under the one umbrella so that everyone would understand our sport more, in particular, Australians."