Our Tech Issue has just hit the newsstands, so every day this week, we’re posting the full interviews of the innovative pros Geoff Brown’ interviewed for his Evolution of Technical Snowboarding feature, from Peter Line, Simon Chamberlain T.J. Schnieder and Etienne Gilbert, to innovative newcomers Louif Paradis, Seb Toots, and Torstein Horgmo. And on Day 2, we've got the Don himself, J.P. Walker, who really needs no introduction.
In Simple Pleasures and Decade you really came into your own as a snowboarder and brought jibbing to the streets and made it an actual part of the snowboarding industry. What inspired you to take snowboarding into the streets like you did?
At first I just wanted to jib anything. It didn't matter where or what it was. You couldn't go to the resort and ride the park rails. Maybe you could find a rainbow tree in the woods or jib part of a railing at the lodge but that was the extent of it. It just so happened that there was a really good street rail by my house that had natural speed. It was an 18 stair. I basically learned to jib on that. I lived in Salt Lake City and there are tons of street spots there and I wanted to jib stuff so I just automatically looked to the streets. Basically I was desperate to slide my board on anything other than snow and it was the only option. It wasn't until my True Life video part that I decided that I would only film street rail stuff for my sections after that. Lots of park jibbing was starting show up and I just wanted to make a statement.
You’ve pushed jibbing so hard and been the first to land so many tricks. The list is so long, I can’t even begin. How do you come up with these tricks before everyone else? Is it something you practice in the park and take to the streets and backcountry or do you just think of it on the spot?
Usually I’m thinking about it before I go to the spots. Earlier in my career I did a lot of practicing of new stuff that I was dreaming up on smaller practice rails or smaller jumps I would build. When I first started filming video parts it was like I had a whole stock pile of new stuff I could do that I wanted to get out there that I couldn't even fit into one part. Nowadays I'm so busy filming and traveling I usually have to learn the new stuff I've been thinking about right at the spot. A lot of times too, a spot I go to will dictate the trick I want to try. I'll look at something and get a crazy idea and have to work it out on the fly taking parts of other stuff that I've done before and try to relate or combine them. Most of the stuff is preconceived though. There are lots of new tricks I still want to do that I'm just waiting to find the right spot for. Not sure why I came up with so much stuff before anybody else. It's just like my brain is always on autopilot and it's thinking about new snowboard tricks.
The pretzel was a huge contribution to jibbing and is a rather awkward trick. How did you ever come up with it?
I saw someone do it on a skateboard out of a Nose Slide and thought it would be sick. It was a trick in itself to come out of a Front Board to Forward Back then so it was tough to figure out how to pop it right. I learned it on a flat bar first and then I was filming on a street rail recently after and I just started trying it and ended up getting it. It was hard to figure it out because a down rail to a flat landing is a lot tougher to 270 Out of than a flat rail with a steep landing.
You were also the first to ever land a Double Cork in the video Shakedown. Now seven years later everyone’s doing them. How did you come up the Double Cork?
About two years before that I tried a Frontside Cork 900 and lost control and did something like a Double Cork. I kept thinking about the bail over and over and thought that if I had of just put a little more spin on it and looked for the landing that I could maybe put it down. A few years later I just came off a bad injury and was desperate to get some last minute backcountry bangers. The jump seemed good for the trick and I'd been thinking about it for a long time. I tried a few times and it felt just like how I had been imagining it. I landed it after three tries.
Which video part are you the most proud of? And why?
I really like my part in True Life but lately I think it might be my part in This Video Sucks. I just like it because it was more about the whole part rather than just the individual tricks. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull it off all switch. To do something like that at this point in my career to me felt like a huge accomplishment and I was stoked to be the first one to try it and pull it off.