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John Jackson Is Stronger Than Ever

John Jackson has reached certified legend status. He doesn’t need to film any more video parts. He rose to fame during snowboarding’s golden era filming with Standard Films, Forum, Red Bull, Absinthe, and most recently TGR, amounting to over 20 film segments, 2X Rider of the Year, and 2X Segment of the Year awards, just to name a few accolades.

John J, a true mountain sensei. Photo: Tucker Adams

John J went from a SoCal park and pipe ripper to raising the bar on what could be done off backcountry wedges and transitioned his riding and tricks to match more natural terrain and ride bigger lines. For a snowboarder who's done pretty much everything, today his riding is just as compelling to watch as ever. John leaves no indy unpoked and maybe focuses more on the landing to match the trick rather than another double cork on a cheese wedge. Last winter, John J linked up with the legendary Standard Films Mike Hatchet and the two seamlessly made magic once again for TGR’s Flying High Again, producing a two-song ender that earned Backcountry Seg of the Year and Rider of the Year nominations, and a Backcountry Seg of the Year award in iF3’s Snowboard Film of the Year. We caught up with John J from London with his two daughters Rocket and Kelaiah popping in and out to talk snowboarding, life, parenthood, and what’s next.

You are no stranger to two song-ender parts, I’m sure it didn’t hurt that the home zone of Tahoe had an all time season. Were you just in a good place mentally and physically last season?

Yeah man I was feeling great mentally and physically. I just feel like my ability to read terrain has gotten so much better, and I think that’s what’s been growing every year. And it was really nice to have such a good year in Tahoe and I was just really excited to be riding with Hatchet again and riding some of the old zones with the old crew we used to work with. It was like a really nostalgic feeling of like, I don’t know…joy.

It seems like you enjoy producing your own content and series, but obviously have a historic relationship with Mike Hatchet and Standard Films. What was it like getting back together with Mike last season?

Yeah, man, it was just so fun. It felt like we hadn’t skipped a beat. That dude is so fun to work with, he’s just so classic. Like the Hatchet brothers have so much history and their terminologies are so funny. They’re just so fun to go out with, and they know exactly what they're doing. They’re super professional, just like double and triple-checking everything. Mike even called me off a couple of lines. He’s like - no man we’re not doing this, it’s just you and I out here and we’ve got no rescue plan…

The power duo of Hatchet and Jackson at it again. Photo: Tucker Adams

And you’ve had a strong relationship filming with Brad Holmes as well right?

Yeah man that guy is such a legend as well. Like the ski parts, he’s put together and also all the skits! We’re conjuring up my skit and I was throwing ideas out there and he’d be like “You know I used to do skits f*cking back in 96! He’s a G.

Forgive me if I throw a little rock & roll nerd reference at you, but your parts in Forever and F*ck It in my opinion are comparable to Rolling Stone’s Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street, where they could’ve called it after those albums and still been considered one of the great rock and roll bands, but they kept going. What made you want to keep putting out video parts?

Oh thanks man, that's not even a fair comparison at all, but I appreciate that. But I just love snowboarding. And I wanna keep doing it and just feel like I have so much gas left in the tank. And I mean, I don’t even care as far as getting filmed or not goes. I’m still gonna go out and get after it, even if I only have a POV camera on.

It hasn’t gotten any less fun huh?

Yeah, man, it hasn’t. And it was so fun to get the opportunity to film last year, and I don’t know - just start letting it out.

Taking your freestyle background into the backcountry, you set the bar for what can be done in the backcountry, now you’ve seemed to have taken a “less is more” approach with big poked-out indy grabs and floaty cab 5’s sniping trannies. Has that felt like a natural transition of your riding?

Yeah. It's kind of funny, I think it comes with a bit of the aging process. You know, it’s really what’s interesting to me. Back in the day, it was all about doing another spin or learning the new trick, or whatever trick I had in mind. Then slowly, my evolution became more about “trophy features,” and to see if I could manipulate the mountain a certain way to get from point A to point B. Yeah, I just really like hunting for the features that would accommodate a big air, rather than just trying to do a bigger spin on another cheese wedge. I think this part with TGR we only had like one cheese wedge, but everything was pretty pat-down-styled features. And just really like a lot of building off natural features, but not much building this year which was nice. And this year I really got reminded that exploring terrain and finding features is one of the funnest things about being in the backcountry. Like that's what really drives me out there. I don’t wanna just be going to the same places. But I do have a lot of different things in my head as far as trick variations go, and wanting to try some new things in that respect. I don’t know, it’s not gonna be like triple corks anymore, but gonna be more like different variations of tricks that I’ve been thinking about.

How important is style and trick selection to you? You’ve got one of the best indy grabs in snowboarding, and it seems like no trick is forced to the terrain.

I don’t know, the indy grab is sometimes just like such a default thing for me. And it’s just like this classic thing that I’ve learned, that has felt so good from so long ago. It’s like if I’m doing something really big, or something that has like a fine degree of trajectory, grabbing indy really helps with just having that composure through the air.

Sometimes less is more when you're John J and you've done it all. Photo:Tucker Adams

You’re somewhat of an elder statesman in the game and this film, what do you think of the state of snowboarding and some of the up-and-comers like Dusty Hendrickson and Brandon Davis?

Dude, it's awesome. I mean I love watching what's going on out there, and especially with all the shifty variations. Man, some of the kids out there are doing these out of control moves that just like defy physics. I’ve always been a big fan of Haldor, and I've seen a lot of kids following that style, it’s so cool to see. And like Brandon Davis, he’s a dude I used to watch a long time ago when he was just a kid, and it’s been really cool to see him like really coming into his own.

And really your modern day ATV

Yeah, that kid is such a machine. He’s one of my favorite riders to watch for sure. Just had good energy, and his part was insane.

Speaking of people who’ve been killing it, how's it been seeing the younger bro Eric do his thing in snowboarding?

Yeah, it's awesome. I wish we could ride together more. We have been talking about trying to do a project together again, you know before we don’t have the opportunity to. But I'm so proud of that guy, man. He’s just got so much talent for, like getting into something new and just crushing it right away. Like when he actually commits to something and gets into something, he does it full force, 200%. It’s been really cool seeing him digging into the hunting realm. He’s always been able to do it, but just has a way of connecting with all the right people. Like the bow hunting, he’s doing is just next level. It's been cool to talk to him about what he’s been going through with that. Have you seen his hunting movie? You should watch it, it's insane, and actually like really well made. It’s called The River.

Outside of snowboarding, you’ve got a jewelry business Jax Union, how did you get into that?

Yeah, I kind of got into it randomly like, a long time ago. I just have a friend in LA who did like really fine jewelry, and I kind of thought that would be cool too. I thought it would be cool to start something in snowboarding that didn't conflict with any other sponsors and was like nonendemic to that world. And it could go at a pace that's pretty easy to manage, gain a little bit of inventory and then, and then slowly sell it and like, not be worrying about having too much on the production side or having to store a bunch of shit, you know, jewelry is pretty small.

I haven't really been doing it lately and I actually just killed the site because I just haven't had time and was doing everything by myself for so long. I wasn't making the jewelry, which I wanted to start getting into but that would have just been a long road. But it was fun and I feel like we've made some really cool stuff and a lot of people were stoked on the pieces. So it was cool to like send stuff off and chat with people who had bought pieces and have a little bit of a personal relationship with them.

What's life look like going into the Spring and Summer for John Jackson and what’s next?

Well, my season was short this year. I was over here (London) for two months at the beginning of the season, and then went back and rode Tahoe for two months, and got it right when it got good. Then I went to Alaska and that was great. And then we’ll be over here for another month or so, and then we’ll return to the States. I’ve been juggling some stuff with my properties back there. I’ve been working on some remodels, and sitting on an Airbnb back there, one in the Reno area and then one in Oregon. And what’s next…we might move to Australia for a little bit. The goal is to not be too attached too much to one place, and while the kids are young travel around with them. And just really have time with them, and not be in a rush and give them travel experiences and observations, and share perspectives on the world with them.

That's awesome, I’m jealous of those kids. I’m a firm believer that the more you see the more you know in a way.

Yeah, totally man. It's going to be really important, at least for me, to just try and instill values and passions in them that are pure and true, and see what they connect with. But just give them opportunity. I think the environment you’re in plays such a huge role in who you become and also just being able to interpret that environment and observe a constantly changing scene and not just be like stuck in like stagnation or on screens. It trips me up even being over here in London and just seeing such a different style of living. Yeah, it's cool and interesting, but it's not really like my style.

But when we do actually want to plant some roots like I love my place in Verdi. But I've always wanted to move back to Crowley.


Yeah, that's where I’ve been living for the last 13 years, just like west of Reno. But yeah I feel like Lake Crowley is just one of the most special places in the world. Crowley, Bishop, Mammoth - like as far as giving kids opportunities to find things like that they’re passionate about. Yeah, that place really checks all the boxes.

And that's pretty much where you grew up right?

Yeah, so we’ve got a piece of land out there on the north side of Crowley, that I wanna try and start building in I don’t know like the next five years or something.

Well, thanks for catching up John, it was really a pleasure, give my best to the kids and keep crushing it.

You too man, get a couple of turns in for me.

About The Author

stash member Toby Koekkoek

Jackson transplant via the Boston area. A traveler, and a skiing, skateboarding, and racquet sports enthusiast