No doubt, JP Walker is one of the most emulated, influential snowboarders in recent history. The number of JP look-alikes is downright startling. With uncanny amounts of style and endless technical moves, he’s just plain hard to hate on. No one can deny Walker’s at the top—can he take it higher?
What’s it like to be a snowboarding “hero”?
What do you mean, hero?
I go up to Snow Summit or out to Brighton, and there’re mini JPs running around everywhere. You’ve got to be a hero to some degree, right?
I guess so. It’s pretty cool when I see kids running my stuff. I’m stoked because I know they’re pumped on what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s too much and I kind of get weirded out. But I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am if I didn’t get that kind of response.
Have you ever been riding down the hill and thought you saw yourself?
No, but I’ll be getting on my first lift, and somebody will say, “I saw you earlier today.” The same thing happens to Jeremy Jones.
Have you ever seen some little grom and thought it was Jeremy?
I’ve done that with my friend Nate Bozung. It’s the same kid I always see. I’m always, “There’s Nate … ooh, it’s not Nate.”
Why do all you Utah cracker kids dress so ghetto?
I just like big pants. I just like the style, it works for me. Some people try to clown or whatever, but I don’t care.
I’ve seen some people push the limits out there. How do you know if you have too much sag?
If you have to alter the way you walk to keep your pants up, then you’re sagging too heavy.
Back when all you Utah kids were on the Rev team, I heard you would take barbecues into the backcountry, build kickers, and learn
tricks—spending time on kickers without the pressures of filming.
Yeah, we totally did. We couldn’t even go to Brighton or to any resorts. We didn’t have any money back then. We’d go up Farmington Canyon—take everything, tons of food and candy. We’d camp for a couple of days and just snowboard. When we started filming we were so used to doing barbecues, we’d take up a little Coleman grill. Now, it’s just hard to haul one up Grizzly Gulch.
Is that how you guys got so good?
I think so. We used to be so into building and jumping—we didn’t care about filming.
When’s the last time you built a kicker without a filmer or photographer?
So long ago. I learn tricks when I’m filming now.
How do you learn while you’re filming?
It’s so hard. Usually when I go filming, I check out the jump and think about the hardest thing I can possibly do off of it, but land within one or two tries. If that works out, I start trying some stuff that wouldn’t be as easy for me. That’s usually how it goes. I try to lock something down and then start tossin’.
What’s your favorite trick?
Ollies. It’s fun if you can get a good pop and keep it nice and chill, don’t flap around and stuff. It’s pretty hard to do a straight air and make it look good.
What’s the most played-out trick in snowboarding this season?
I haven’t seen any videos yet, I don’t know what everyone was doing this year, but I’m kind of sick of stock railslides. New tricks don’t come out that often, so when they do, everybody just jumps all over them. It was the backside rodeo, then corkscrews …
A lot of people are doing that one—that’s getting played out.
What moves are missing from JP’s bag of tricks?
So many. Backside nines and switch backside 900s—I’ve done those, but I can’t really do them—not on command, like Jussi Oksanen and Kevin Jones. I’m missing tons of tricks, if I sat down and thought about it.
I know you jump big cliffs, why don’t we see that side of your riding?
I’m just more into doing handrails. I feel like I can progress further on them. There’re so many more tricks and variations. If I see a good rail when I’m driving around in the winter, I’ll get more stoked doing that than if I’m up at the mountain and see a good line.
So when you get bored of handrails, we’ll get to see JP Walker extreme?
Have you sustained any serious injuries yet?
I’ve broken both my ankles, but that was a long time ago when I was still learning. I broke my foot once. I haven’t really gotten super tweaked yet, so I’m just—waiting to die.
Statistically, you’re due to get owned.
Well, I chill a lot. If I go to a Team Challenge or super session where everybody is there trying to get a lot of work done, I won’t kill myself trying to get shots. I like to have stuff that looks a little different anyway. These days I don’t ever stress myself out filming, like, “I have to go hit this jump, or I have to go do this.” If I’m not feeling it—I’ll do it later.
You have to live to fight another day.
Do you stretch or train off the mountain?
I’ll get in the mode and stretch a lot, but other times I don’t stretch for a month. I usually go have massages, and I get acupuncture when I’m tweaked. I’ll skate, or I’ll surf a little bit. I’ll try to do some sit-ups or push-ups, but that lasts about two times and I’m over it.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in snowboarding?
Finishing the Forum movie The Resistance. That was a big deal, it was pretty hardcore to make that movie because of all the circumstances. We only had six main riders to film that whole video, and we had a lot of guys get hurt. I helped edit a lot of it, and seeing it get finished was rad.
What haven’t you accomplished yet in snowboarding?
I don’t really win anything, like contests, but I don’t really do that many. I won an MTV thing once, like a triple air … maybe something else. That’s not really my thing anyway. I’d just like to get more consistent and be able to do everything I’m supposed to do, every time, like a lot of those guys.
Who are “those guys”?
When I go to a contest, everyone just destroys it. Todd Richards, Jussi, Kevin Jones, and Chad Otterstrom—those guys are like robots. I wish I could be like that, I just don’t think I’m motivated enough.
If you weren’t a pro snowboarder, you’d be …
A pro skateboarder. Actually, I’d probably be a pro surfer. I just barely started surfing a lot last summer. I’m going to the Caribbean on vacation with my girlfriend soon. I’m all about the tropics.
When you were single, did you ever eat too much candy and wake up with some ugly girl in your bed, and think, “What did I do last night”?
No! That’s a good one, though.
How amazed are Mom and Pop that you own a home thanks to snowboarding?
I think they’re pretty tripped out—they never thought that it would be like this, all the stuff I have, and all the money I’ve made. At the first of this year, I was kind of bitter about snowboarding, and my mom was getting all worried that I was over it. But when I first started riding, she probably would have been stoked if I’d quit snowboarding.
How do you balance snowboarding and a regular life?
I’m gone so much of the year, that normal life is just traveling around for me. Last year I had September and October off, and in that time I went to Europe for a bunch of Forum video tours. I’m away from home more than I am at home, it’s pretty hardcore. Sometimes I get sick of it.
Where is the best place snowboarding has ever taken you?
Probably Cabo San Lucas, for the Forum team trip.
Who has a tighter crib, you or the old man?
Me, for sure! I’ve got a mini ramp, a funbox, a hot tub, and a trampoline. I also have a bigger TV than him.
Is your dad athletic?
He golfs a bunch.
I heard your neighbors were complaining about the skate ramp and that Jeremy Jones represented you in court.
My mom actually represented me in court, because I was in Canada coaching at The Camp Of Champions. All my friends had to go to court and stand up for it—to prove that ramps are pretty stock these days, just as stock as a basketball court or a swimming pool. So my mom was up there, representin’.
So you got to keep your ramp?
Yeah, they ended up changing the law and making it legal. In the city ordinance of Salt Lake you can have a ramp that’s six feet tall by 40, or something. They went up to the size of our ramp.
So basically your mom changed the city ordinance in Salt Lake City.
You don’t smoke or drink. Does your lifestyle parallel Mormon beliefs because you grew up around them?
Not any religious beliefs, but as far as not drinking, I guess.
There were some kids I hung out with for a while who were into that drinking. But they weren’t into skating or snowboarding, so I didn’t hang out with them much. I never really got into that whole thing.
They were always too hung over to skate with you?
Yeah, and now I’ve been like this for so long, it’s not really an issue. I mean, it’s pretty large-scale partying in this industry.
There’s nothing wrong with you not drinking.
There’s nothing wrong with it either drinking, if that’s what you’re into.
What’s your greatest weakness?
I can get pretty negative at times, or I can be pretty lazy. The two kind of go together for me.
If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently as far as your snowboarding career?
Not really, I’m pretty stoked
How many JP Walker items are there?
I’ve got a board and a boot. Oh, I have a snow skate.
Are you in a video game?
I’m in ESPN Winter X-Games, or something—it’s for PlayStation 2. I was also in Coolboarders 4.
What’s it like to turn on a video game and see a JP Walker character in it?
I’ve never seen it.
What are your toys?
I have a mig welder, so I can weld rails, it’s pretty fun. I don’t have anything dope, like a motorcycle—everyone’s got a dirt bike. I have an all right car, it’s an older Audi, but mostly just my skateboard, I guess.
A skateboard and a mig welder.
My hot tub, maybe.
You can call a hot tub a toy, I guess. Do you own turntables?
I do, but they’re not even hooked up.
Ha, ha! But you have them.
I got them from Jeremy. When he moved out of my house, he owed me a couple months’ rent. He didn’t want them any more, because he never really used them either. He was stoked to pawn them off on me.
But do they look cool?
They look good. I have them by my entertainment system.
I’d better ask how old you are.
In snowboarding, you’re pretty much on the top. What next?
Every time I do something pretty gnarly, I’m already thinking, what am I going to do next year, or what am I going to do next time to step to that? I was thinking that last year, and this year has gotten even gnarlier. You just have to go with it, and when the opportunity’s there to step up, and everything’s right, you’ve got to do it.
Unload your shout-outs
I ride for Forum, Special Blend, Oakley, Nixon, GMC, Bakoda, Premier Snow Skates, and MiloSport, I think that’s it.
And then I would like to say thanks to TransWorld for letting me do this interview. Thanks to everyone who helped make me who I am—all the filmers and the photographers. All my friends, my family, girlfriend, you guys know who you are.