SPORT

Scotty James Is The Most Popular Aussie Sports Star In America Right Now

The Americans think the world champion Aussie snowboarder is one of their own.

13/03/2017 10:53 AM AEDT | Updated 13/03/2017 3:18 PM AEDT
Lars Baron via Getty Images
Oi! Oi! Oi!

Let's call it the Russell Crowe effect. It's the phenomenon where an Aussie becomes so popular in the U.S., the Americans don't even realise they're one of us.

That's pretty much how things are right now for snowboarder Scotty James, who jetted straight home to to his Colorado base just two hours after winning the snowboard halfpipe world title in Sierra Nevada, Spain, on Sunday.

This was the second snowboard world championship for James, 22. Here's our favourite trick from his winning run. Sick. (That's sick good, not sick bad, obviously. We're talking about snowboarding here.)

The full run is below. James had already wrapped up the competition before his final run. But he laid down the highest-scoring run of the night, just to emphasise his class, and wow his legions of fans. Solid.

James, who grew up in Warrandyte on the outskirts of Melbourne, also won the X Games halfpipe title in Aspen, Colorado in January.

That's the event snowboarders really want to win. Held in front front of a boisterous, ultra-hip, extreme sports-loving crowd, an X Games win is arguably more valuable in terms of sponsor interest than a win at the Winter Olympics.

Paul Hanna / Reuters
He's so agile, he caught that little yellow bird with his bare hands.

James almost won this year's US Open halfpipe recently too, finishing second behind halfpipe legend Shaun White. At that event, organisers mistakenly listed the popular snowboarder as an American athlete.

"You always know when an athlete has made it in the U.S. It's when they start to claim him as their own," James' Sydney-based manager Rod Read told The Huffington Post Australia.

But there's another, super obvious, measure of Aussie success overseas: The financial bottom line. And while Read wouldn't speak dollars, he was busy doing Scotty James deals when we called for comment, and had to call us back. Dude is hot right now. Hot like snow isn't.

Paul Hanna / Reuters
He's so hot he snowboards in t-shirts. Or maybe it's just spring in Spain where the world champs are being held. Bit of both.

Australia's previous most famous snowboarder was of course Torah Bright -- an Olympic gold and silver medallist with that trademark perennial smile and endorsement deals that covered everything from clothing to video games.

"She is and remains an icon of the sport for her continuing leadership and achievements and there will never be another Torah. She did it first and set the standards for all who are now following," Read said.

"Scotty is in a very different situation. He is only 22, he is at the beginning of his career even though he has been on the scene since he was 14. He has emerged from a pack of extremely talented young riders and is the first rider to put his hand up and stake a claim as the heir-apparent to Shaun White.

"Commercially the stakes are high if he is able to replace Shaun at the top of the sport and establish himself as the best rider in the world for a period of time.

"The media and commercial interest in him is now truly global. He's one of only a handful of Australian athletes to have achieved that."

Meanwhile Australia continues to rack up the medals at the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships. We currently sit third on the medal tally with five medals, which is a pretty decent trick for a beachy country like us.

fis-ski.com

In addition to the wins by James and mogul skier Britt Cox, Australia has won bronze through Alex "Chumpy" Pullin in the snowboard cross, and silver and bronze respectively to aerial skiers Danielle Scott and David Morris.

They don't award extra points for smiling, but if they did, we'd give both Scott and Morris gold.

Morris now has won medals at the the Olympics and the World Championships -- a handy haul for an athlete who was made to feel unwelcome in his early days to the aerial program.

We're not so sure about David Morris scary face (below). But hey, the guy won a world championship medal and we didn't. He can do what he likes.

More On This Topic

Advertisement
Advertisement