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Scotty James is Redefining the Business of a Pro Snowboarder

Scotty James isn’t just a competitor in the company; he owns a piece of it. Boardroom chops it up with the Austaliana Olympian ahead of his title defense at the X Games on Friday night.

In July 2023, at the Variety + Sportico Sports & Entertainment Summit, there was a panel titled “Extending Success Beyond the Game.” On the panel was Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown, who would go on to sign the most lucrative contract in NBA history just weeks later.

Right next to him? Olympic snowboarder and five-time X Games Men’s Superpipe gold medalist Scotty James.

Over the last few years or so, we’ve seen athletes place more emphasis on business in an effort to prepare for their post-career lives. There are many ways this can be done, through various investments, partnerships, and even team ownership in some cases.

With snowboarding being an individual sport with no teams to invest in, Scotty James went straight to the top by becoming an investor and brand advisor in X Games as a whole. No longer is James’ sole focus securing another gold medal to add to his resume; he now has a business stake in the game.

And for those closest to him, the thought was — it’s about damn time.

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Perhaps once that rowdy, loud extreme sports kid of the group, Scotty has grown into an athlete who not only likes to compete on the slopes but also in the boardroom.

“I love business,” James told Boardroom. “I love learning a lot. I love the space of venture capital, understanding private equity, and all those things. I’m kind of learning firsthand, which is really awesome. And obviously, meeting a lot of really cool people that are in the start-up phase of business and understanding their stories and why things work, why things don’t. I would say business is something I’m super interested in.”

When the news was officially announced the same day as his participation in the Variety + Sportico panel last summer, Scotty effectively blazed a new trail for his generation of extreme sports athletes. No, that doesn’t mean he was the first to make a move LIKE this one, but he’s certainly the first to take these first literal steps.

In recent years, the most recognizable face of pro snowboarding of the last few decades, Shaun White, seamlessly stepped into the business world following his career on the slopes. That passion and drive that allowed White to claim the world records for most X Games gold medals and most Olympics gold medals for a pro snowboarder is the same one the “Flying Tomato” has taken into the negotiating rooms.

Thus, WHITESPACE was born, owned, operated, and developed by White himself (with a little bit of influence and help from friends like Virgil Abloh). And it’s grown to the point that White has now secured collaborations for the company with professional sports teams like the Utah Jazz.

As many snowboarders who came after him in the park have quickly found out, there just simply isn’t anyone like White. Truth is, there probably never will be.

That’s why the 29-year-old is getting started now. He wants to create his own legacy, distinct but complementary to that of White, both in the sport and beyond.

“I don’t think I necessarily did it to set myself up as an exit of snowboarding,” James said. “I still want to be the best at snowboarding and I want to learn about an industry that’s given me so much, and while I’m still on this trajectory and my chosen discipline, how can I bring value right now as I’m still in the moment in the present snowboarding?

“So, I always found that a lot of other athletes — they finish their careers, and then they go: ‘What can I do now?’ It’s like, well, for me, I’m like, ‘OK, I want to do all of it now.’ I’ve probably loaded my plate up a lot, but it’s a really great balance for me to find, and I’m really enjoying all of it.”

He’s already partnered with some of the biggest names in the sport. His roster of partners Includes Red Bull, Tommy Hilfiger, and Therabody, the latter of which has helped him get right for this weekend’s events. His favorite product? The Theragun Pro, for obvious reasons.

“I would say, naturally, there’s a lot of synergies between myself specifically and Therabody and all the products that they make, specifically more so for me — the RecoveryAir, the RecoveryTherm, and all those things. I use them obviously a lot on a day-to-day basis in preparation for training and then obviously post-training as well. So I definitely use ’em as a really handy tool for me.

“And then, obviously, it really transcends into a lot of other areas as well for a lot of other athletes, and then your day-to-day person. So, it’s always funny. They’re actually hard to come by in my house now because every time I get one, my brother, my sister, my mom, someone will try and claim it. … I think that says it all, really. I mean, everyone really loves the product, and my family is active — not as active as me — and they really use the body products to their full capacity.”

Coupled with his training, these recovery products and times are crucial if James is to secure his third consecutive gold medal in the Men’s Superpipe event in Aspen. The last time he didn’t stand on top of the podium in this event was in 2021, when Yuto Totsuka narrowly edged him out (Scotty finished with silver).

While how he performs is important to him this weekend, this is also a business on behalf of the X Games for James. In his new role, he said he tries to be a “complete sponge” when he’s gathering perspectives from his peers and colleagues during events such as these. Scotty’s name will forever be in the record books along the sport’s legends in White, so what left is there for James to accomplish?

“I would say a big driver for me is — obviously, winning’s great. And I’ve been fortunate to feel that many times, which is awesome. But I think more so for me, I’m about what mark am I going to leave on my sport? And more recently, doing some stuff just with X Games and in the backend of the sport, but then also trying to have a little bit more impact in generally action sport, which has been a really cool experience,” James said.

“But then also, more so just on the snowboard, it’s about what am I bringing to the table that could transcend the future of snowboard halfpipe. So, in the sense that what tricks am I doing? Yes, it’s one thing to come and put another 180 or another cork on a trick, which is absolutely amazing. No disrespect there, but I am trying to think outside the box and be creative. Snowboarding is about self-expression. You can get very lost in just trying to do things with the mindset of winning, and then you kind of forget about why you started and what you love about it.”

Be sure to catch James and his opponents hit the Men’s Superpipe competition Friday night at 11:30 p.m. EST from Aspen.

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About The Author
Griffin Adams
Griffin Adams
Griffin Adams is an Editor at Boardroom. He's had previous stints with The Athletic and Catena Media, and has also seen his work appear in publications such as USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and MLB.com. A University of Utah graduate, he can be seen obnoxiously cheering on the Utes on Saturdays and is known to Trust The Process as a loyal Philadelphia 76ers fan.