The best way to start this interview is with a quote from the last letter J.P. and I received from Jason while he was still on his mission in Argentina: “I want to go to the SIA trade show in March to look for some sponsors, or to arrange everything good. I plan on studying at BYU in May and the first part of June, and then I want to go up to Mt. Hood to film and get a good part. I plan on getting married within a year after finishing my mission. To who, I don’t know … we’ll see. I love you both a ton.”
Murph grew up with a strong belief that there’s more to life than life itself–a belief of the Mormon Church, which has inspired him to do well in all things. After rebelling and distancing himself from the church for some time, he realized life wasn’t the same without the support the church provides. He returned to his roots and went on his mission in Argentina. So many people thought he was crazy and throwing away a promising snowboarding career, but J told himself there’s more to life.
After finishing his mission, J came home, arranged some sponsors, is studying at BYU, and although he hasn’t made it to Hood for the summer, he’s still sittin’ on a good chunk of footage. Also, last but certainly not least, J’s in love. So it looks as though he’s going to have to set a few new goals for himself, ’cause the old ones have just about been kissed!
J worries his friends sometimes by the way he goes about things, but he has mad support and mad love flowing his way. His dedication is like nobody else’s. It’s crazy to think he pulled all these things off in only three months. Seriously, that is crazy, dude! Jason’s a very inspired person–he has the spirit in his heart and it glows. He’s blowin’ up all over again, so nothin’ else needs to be said. Peace J, we’re all proud.–Jeremy Jones
Why did you give up riding right when you were starting to blow up on the snowboarding scene two years ago?
In my church it’s expected, but not demanded, for people to serve a mission. For a while, I didn’t really want to. I didn’t feel like it was right for me and wanted to do my own thing. Then, with time, I started changing as a person and felt I needed to do that kind of a service to God, and help other people. All my life I’ve been taught a lot of true principles, which have really helped me become a happier person. I felt like I needed to share and help other people understand those principles of life and become happier. So I guess it was more of a feeling than logic because it didn’t make sense at all.
Did it feel strange to tell your sponsors you were leaving? I’m sure it must’ve been a hard phone call to make because you were friends with a lot of your sponsors.
I was super scared to tell Steve Ruff and the Forum guys. I remember we were on a trip to Colorado with J.P., Peter, and Steve, and I knew I had to tell ’em. J.P. already knew. We were driving back in the rental van, and I was just dying because I knew they’d be super bummed and trip out–which they pretty much did laughs. So, I was stressed about it. Forum was definitely the hardest one. I was waiting for them to start yelling at me or something.
I remember when you left you weren’t sure if you were going to ride again professionally. How does it feel to be back in the game?
At first it was weird–I was doing it more to be around my friends. It was fun, but it didn’t really click. I just wasn’t motivated by it, you know? I wanted to relearn all the tricks I used to be able to do, but I didn’t have the drive until just recently. About two months ago it started to click at Mammoth. New tricks started coming into my head and I wanted to do better–for me, not the camera. But I was definitely unsure about snowboarding when I first got back.
So you filmed your whole video part in Destroyer feeling unsure about whether snowboarding was in your future?
By the time I was filming within ten days of returning, I started to feel like this is what I want to do, but it wasn’t really fun yet. You know how it’s really fun sometimes, and other times it’s not? It was still kind of a hard task.
Since you’ve returned, how much do you ride?
I’ve been riding four to five times a week.
It seems like you didn’t need much time to ride at a higher level. How did you stay on top of it?
Every once in a while snowboarding would pop into my head, but I wouldn’t dwell on it. It’s weird. I guess you can kind of compare it to a trick you’ve learned skateboarding: it doesn’t take too long to get it back once you’ve learned it. Strength was definitely the hardest part for me–then the tricks. Just trying to be stable on my landings and last throughout a day of hiking was tough.
Is there anything you never realized you appreciated so much until you were on your mission?
Yeah, I missed the companionship I had with all my friends the most. I felt like I hadn’t taken advantage of it. My relationships really help me to be a happy person–I’ve enjoyed my friends a lot since I’ve been back.
Was going on your mission the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Definitely. For the first year something was always wrong with my body. All of a sudden my body just went: my foot, my knee, my hip, my elbows, my back, everything. And I was constantly sick with coughs because they don’t have vitamins down there. I experienced a lot of personal growth being away from my family, working really hard, and having all those health problems. Also, I’ve never experienced so much stress as during that time. They give you a lot of responsibility–they compare the stress level of an average missionary to a CEO of a major company.
Since I’ve moved to Utah, one habit I’ve heard a lot of Mormon kids have that perplexes me is they use the first letter of a swear word instead of the real deal. For instance, “What the F?” instead of “What the f–k?”
Laughs That’s a good question. It’s true. It’s kind of like taking a piece of candy, pretty much stealing it, but then putting it back without offending anyone. You say it for yourself and express the anger, but you offend less people–so I guess it’s the lesser of the two evils.
What was your first snowboarding experience?
I’d go to the park at the local hill by my house and hit tubing jumps, land on my head, and die. But I thought it was cool because it was so easy to grab my board–it’s so hard with a skateboard.
What was your first board?
A Black Snow Edge.
Which riders influenced you most as a grom?
When I first started riding hard, I really looked up to Jason Brown ’cause he was the local pro and had good style. But really J.P., Jeremy Jones, Mitch Nelson, and all those guys influenced me the most. They could always do the tricks everyone else could do–they just weren’t noticed for a while. And Brandon Ruff was the first person I ever saw ride big mountains the way he does. I don’t think anyone rides big mountains like him–he’s crazy.
All those guys are successful snowboarders now. Why do you think so many of the kids you grew up with are so good?
A lot of it has to do with making the decision to succeed at snowboarding, and then making the necessary sacrifices. They’re all athletic and positive people. Another thing I notice about those guys is they dare to do things–that’s really how you progress. No pain, no gain. J.P. was the first and fastest to progress, but he’d get hurt so much because he’d always try new things.
If you had to pick one rider you really respect and maybe even envy based on attitude, style, skills, and personality, who would it be?
That would be J.P. for sure. I love that kid. I envy the way he goes about snowboarding. We were talking the other day about how he thinks everything through so well–he’s very methodi
cal when learning stuff, and definitely has one of the cleanest styles I’ve ever seen. He’s got his own way of doing things.
Snowboarding hasn’t really progressed a ton since you’ve been gone. How much further do you think snowboarding can go? Do you see any huge jumps coming up?
I think jumps will progress to where they’ll have a lot more spins with different corkscrews in them. Maybe we’ll start going to double corkscrews laughs. But I don’t think we can go much bigger without risking our lives every time we ride. So rather than progress, I think snowboarding will just become more organized as far as the kind of stuff we do.
Are you in contests?
No, I haven’t really decided if I like them or not–I actually have fun at them, though. It’s rad if you can go to contests and have fun, but you can’t stress out if you don’t get first place because it’s hard to judge people, and the judging is not always fair.
What do you think would be the thing to change in contests?
I’ve always liked the jam format where the riders vote and place the people. It’s fair because they see a lot of things the judges don’t see.
What type of riding do you like best?
My favorite riding is building a big jump with all my friends and either trying to make up a new trick or learn a new trick.
There’s been some controversy about exactly what you’re going to do off a jump because you tend to pull things out weird laughs. For instance, the backside 720 in Decade. I remember you came up to me in the parking lot and you were like, “Mikey, what’s up? I just did a backside seven rodeo.” Then the video came out, and it was more like a flat-spin backside three to backside three cork.
I thought I did a backside seven rodeo laughs. In my head that’s what I meant to do, and I thought it would look like one. I guess the way I see things and the way they are in my head end up being different, so I do a lot of random things. Also, a lot of times I’ll be jumping and something will go wrong in the air, but I’ll still try to pull it–that’s why I do a lot of weird tricks.
What was the best run of your life?
It was at Squaw Valley. I remember going down and following Jeremy, and who else was there? I think Ben Pruess. He was showing us around hitting everything blind. It was the longest powder run ever, and we hit tons of jumps and cliffs.
Who or what has made the most impact on your life?
My parents and the church as far as the way I live and the way I am. And Jeremy as far as what I do–where I’m at now with skateboarding and snowboarding.
Who are the most important people in your life?
Definitely my family, and right now my girlfriend–she’s the best. And then my friends like you, Jeremy, and J.P., even though we don’t get to be around each other much.
What other hobbies or interests do you have besides snowboarding?
Golf, skateboarding–I haven’t done these much since I’ve been back ’cause of snowboarding, though. I’m trying to get back into them. I’m also trying to learn a lot of things–I’m taking a couple classes over the Internet to keep finding out new stuff.
What do you get out of these things?
I like golf and skateboarding because they’re such individual sports where mind over matter is most important. I like to think everything through–it’s so mental. With learning, I’m just curious. I want to know a lot of stuff and challenge myself. I have to work my mind or else it will just go numb and I’ll become dumb.
Last meat you ate?
Last time you lied?
At Mt. Hood Meadows about having a leash. I felt bad about it.
Last country you visited?
Argentina. No, Canada.
Last time you said, “I love you?”
About half an hour ago to my girlfriend Becky.
Last thing you bought?
Last time you rode?
Last Tuesday–six days ago–at Mt. Hood Meadows.
Last time you watched Jerry Springer?
What’s that? Is that a talk show? I’ve never watched that.
Last gun you shot?
A squirt gun.
Last person who stoked you out?
My girlfriend laughs.
Last time you yelled?
Riding at Meadows last Tuesday.
Last movie you saw?
–it’s an old one–with my family and girlfriend.
Last time you regretted something?
Today. I regretted moving down to Provo.
Last board you rode?
Sims Enduro 155. Jason’s designing his own 155 pro model for 2001.
Last CD you bought?
Two years ago, Great Performances by Tchaikovsky.
Last trick you stuck?
Switch corkscrew five.
Last piece of information you heard?
The cause of TMJ, the jaw problem. Jason has it.
Last impure thought?
I try not to remember these things laughs. Probably a swear word.
Last book you read?
Standing for Something
by President of Latter Day Saints Gordon B. Hinkley.
Last time you drank booze?
On accident, it was in a water bottle at the Warped Tour skate contest. I thought it was water. I almost threw up.
Last time you quit something?
I decided to quit talking bad about people.
Last person you want to see?
This army-recruiter guy–he wouldn’t leave me alone. Seriously.
Last date you went on?
Last car you drove?
Last time you felt sorry for yourself?
I’d say today because my body’s jacked.
Last song that stoked you out?
“Underachievers” by Archers of Loaf.
Last time you felt sorry for someone?
Yesterday. My friend broke her back snowboarding, and yesterday I thought about going to see her.
Last magazine you read?
A church magazine, Lee-Ahona.
Last person or people you rode with?
Scotty Wittlake, Gigi Ruef, Lukas Huffman, and Marc Frank.
Last bad tip you got?
“Hit your tail harder,” by J.P. Walker right before I blew out my shoulder. That’s what I used to tell him when he would ask me what he needed to do skateboarding laughs. He was making fun of me.
Last piece of clothing you bought?
These shorts at Super Target.
Last time you golfed?
Last Monday–seven days ago.
Last time you swore?
I don’t remember.
Last time you felt appalled?
At Mt. Hood when Marc and Lukas were talking about girls.
Do you have any advice for the kids out there, not necessarily about snowboarding?
Yeah, looking back to when I was growing up, there was such a lack of direction. I see a lot of people who just sit around for so long halfway doing things. They’re halfway going to college, or they’re halfway trying to do the snowboarding thing–if they’d make a definite decision and make the sacrifices to get there, they’d be so much better. I know it’s hard–I’ve been there–so, my advice is to make a decision about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, and stick with it. Do your best and have fun.
I would like to thank my parents; my girlfriend; my friends, Jeremy Jones, J.P. Walker, Mikey LeBlanc, Mitch Nelson, Brandon Bybee, and Whitey; and all of my sponsors, Sims, Link bindings, Analog clothing, DC, Dragon, and Milo Sports.