The top of the podium is a nice place to be.
Despite boyish good looks and solid snowboard skills, JJ Thomas has never been a Danny Kass or Shaun White type. He’s always been good, but just lacking that hype that creates true snowboard sensations. Maybe that’s why when JJ ended up in a 3-way tie for the 4th US Olympic team slot this year, it was labeled as a comeback. Of course, he’d spent the past few seasons filming, not pipe jocking, but if you’re not at every Burton-sponsored pipe fest every year, you must be washed up right? Over the years though, one place JJ tops the charts in snowboarding, is being a good sport. After all, some ten years ago he kicked off my snowboard journalism career by going on a “dream date” with me for my Snowboarder Magazine internship. And ten years later, he’s still winning contests and having fun snowboarding, even if he didn’t quite get the chance to go for gold in Vancouver.
So, you just won the Dew Tour and the Aspen Open… how does victory taste?
It tastes like Coors Light and filet mignon.
Did winning the Dew Cup make not quite making the Olympic team any better?
Yes it helped… it was a nice band aid.
How much did you win? What are you gonna spend the money on?
I think I won 40k that night. I think I’ll buy a summer’s supply of pizza and ice cream with it.
Triple overhead. Photo Seth Hill
Are you pissed they picked a no-name kid over you for this year’s Olympics? Why do you think the reasoning behind it was?
I was mad for a day or so, but I’m over it. He rode well and out tricked me, so he deserves it.
Given the sorry state of the Olympic pipe, any predictions on what might go down? Are you a little glad you don’t have to try and ride it?
Yeah, when you have a pipe that is kind of crappy it evens the playing field a lot. I’d say anything could happen. I still think it’s Shaun’s to lose, but I could see Kazu doing well, or maybe some Euro dudes sneaking in and doing well, especially if the pipe is shitty.
You’re still an Olympian though… Are there any perks to the title? Did you ever get laid, or treated to anything nice because of your bronze medal?
HA! Yeah it’s cool. I mean I get free entry fees to the Grand Prix and yes, I still get lucky sometimes and manage to get laid.
Even pipe jocks have fans! JJ’s Stepdad Bob and YeaNice teamrider Gabe.
How do you feel about being labeled a pipe jock?
I embrace it.
Do tight pants might it harder to ride halfpipe?
No, it makes you more faster. I think in the future we will all be wearing racing suits to get more speed.
You’ve had a fairly long career, and this year it seems like you’ve proved it’s not over yet. Why do you think companies don’t seem to realize you are amazingly marketable?
I like snowboarding and I still like to compete so that’s why I choose to keep doing it. I think getting written off in snowboarding is a common thing. Situations like that can also breed success. At the end of the day it’s just how you choose to take it and deal with it. You can use it to fuel your fire or you can let it bring you down.
Couldn’t you sell snowboards on your good looks alone? I mean, Zach Leach did it for years.
I’m not sure what sells boards anymore. I think it’s all about coming out with a sweet gimmick and then marketing the hell out of it.
Getting Xtreme. Photo Zach Hooper
How long did it take to live down being named the “cutest boy in snowboarding” in 1999?
I think I shook that in ’02 or so.
Why do you think having people call you Jarrett didn’t catch on?
JJ it is. Unless my Mom is yelling at me.
Why did it take you so long to start concentrating on filming video parts?
I got into filming when I was burnt out on contests. Then I got burnt out on filming, so now I like competing again. Let’s be honest though, filming doesn’t really pay the bills, unless you’re Travis Rice.
Anything video-wise in the works for this season?
JJ knows famous people like Jeff Brushie, Tim Windell and his coach Ben Boyd.
Do you have a “retirement plan?” Perhaps get into boardercross?
No Boarder x for this guy.
How can you stand living in Summit County? Do you still summer in SoCal?
Summit County is great! I stay in Breck when I’m up there and then on days off I stay with my parents down in Golden. It’s a good winter set up. And yes, I still live in Southern California. I still live in the same town where we went out on that awkward date 10 years ago.
If you could be a pro surfer, but would never be allowed to snowboard again, would you do it?
No way. I like snowboarding way too much.
What about a pro golfer? (No guarantees your career wouldn’t pull a Tiger Woods either, and no more snowboarding, ever.)
Now this is a tough one… Golf is too hard though. I’d make myself go crazy and then I would probably pull a “Tiger Woods” too. I mean If I had millions riding on my golf swing, I’d do some stupid shit too.
Flying high in the Colorado sky. Photo Zach Hooper
How is your music career going? Are you super famous in the free internet download world these days?
Yes , we rule the world or free downloads! Who pays for music these days anyways.
Thanks, shout outs, sponsor plugs?
Thanks to my sponsors. Oakley,Vitamin Water ,YeaNice, Tactics, Unity, Breckenridge, Celtek, Bluebird. Thanks to anyone who reads this, and thanks to you Brooke for continuing to write about snowboarding for a very, very long time. Peace and love to all !!!!
Check out all of JJ’s projects: