Scotty going well at boarding school
SNOWBOARDER Scotty James is barely recognisable from the baby-faced teenager who at 15 was the youngest competitor at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
A last minute addition to the team, James was also Australia's youngest male Olympian in 50 years.
He was far from disgraced - despite crashing in his first halfpipe run, he landed an impressive string of double and triple spins in his second qualification, placing him 21st overall.
Four years on, he has grown 15cm and added 25kgs to his slender frame.
Off the snow he has completed high school, and on it he has added the new discipline of slopestyle to his halfpipe repertoire. Like his former training partner Torah Bright, a gold medalist in Vancouver, James is attempting to make history by competing in more than one event at February's Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.
The young Melbourne rider has enjoyed a steady rise in both disciplines with a string of top-10 finishes over the last two seasons.
At the recent world championships in Stoneham, Canada, he notched a career best performance of sixth in the halfpipe, and also managed a respectable 16th in slopestyle.
"It's been a little bit more busy this time around but I'm looking forward to it," James said.
"I've just been really enjoying my time on the snow so I'm not bothered to be on the snow more than if I was just doing halfpipe."
The next step in the qualification process starts later this month at the Winter Games in New Zealand where James will be one of a 23-strong Australian team to compete in Queenstown and Wanaka.
The event has attracted some of the best riders in the world, including two-time Olympic halfpipe champion Shaun White from the US.
James said the key to him progressing up the world rankings in the slopestyle was mastering the new "must-do" trick of a triple cork. That requires competitors to flip three times on three different axes.
"The big thing is triple corks - everyone is doing triple corks," he said. "At the Olympics, if you're going to do any good, you've got to do a triple cork.
James took the opportunity earlier this year to go to a training camp in the US ski resort of Aspen to dedicate himself to learn the new trick.
"I got it done," he said, with noticeable relief. "It was pretty scary, but I made it happen - so I'm happy now.
"It should really make my Olympic qualification process a little easier."