BRITS regular James Machon is four-times British halfpipe champion whose current focus is preparing for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Onthesnow caught up with the professional freeskier to talk about training schedules, competing at the BRITS and aspirations for the future.
OTS: Tell us about your early skiing experience
JM: I was introduced to skiing at 7 by my parents. I went skiing every year on snow and then at 14 I discovered the freestyle park at Sheffield Ski Village, which had an artificial halfpipe and was arguably the best dry ski slope in the world. I instantly became addicted, watching ski movies all the time and started to teach myself the tricks from watching the pros.
OTS: When did you realise that you were actually pretty good and could compete?
JM: It wasn’t long, probably after a couple of weeks. Every time I skied I learnt new tricks. When I was about 14 I taught myself a 540 and entered the Yorkshire Championships, which I won so this was when I realized I was progressing well so I kept going.
OTS: What's the crowd like? Do they make you nervous or do you get a buzz off them?
JM: The more people watching the better, I buzz off the atmosphere and there are so many photographers so I always think I’ve got to ski well to look good for the cameras and it definitely makes me get in the zone and ski better. I sometimes get butterflies when I’m waiting at the top, but when I drop in for my run they go away.
OTS: Tell us about the BRITS
JM: I’ve been for the last six years and every year has been amazing and a different experience. I’ve won the Brits Halfpipe Championships for the last four years, which I still can’t believe. The first year I competed in 06 I told my brother I was going to win one day, he laughed at me. It’s all about the competitions for me, I love the feeling of landing a sick run and seeing everyone's reaction. Unfortunately this year I cannot defend my title as I’m recovering from a knee injury, so I’ve got my money on my brother Rob Machon to get on the podium.
OTS: What does competing at the BRITS mean to you?
JM: The best thing about the Brits is skiing the mountain with all your friends and your family. The Brits take over the whole resort for a week and everyone is there to meet new people and have a good time, I look forward to it every year. For me the Brits has meant a starting point for a career in sport, which I’m really excited about. This year it is in Tignes, France and I expect the facilities will be in great condition as it is straight after the Euro X Games.
OTS: Do you follow a training regime? Are you strict with yourself
JM: Yes, definitely. It is the secret. Being a professional athlete it is my job to follow a strict training regime. Success is made in the gym not on the slopes or the podium and you can’t achieve a high level in skiing without being dedicated off the slopes too, but most importantly skiing is all about having fun and when you're having fun, you improve the most. I study sports performance at university so I have picked up a few tips which have helped me out in skiing.
OTS: How do you mentally prepare yourself for a competition? And what's your pre-race routine?
JM: I use a lot of positive self-talk, and belief in myself that I will ski well, I focus on what I’m doing and not what everyone else is doing, which I think is the key. I have a chosen song I listen to before my run, which gets me in the zone and makes me psyched. I call it my competition song and I never listen to it in training or any other time. If you listen to the same song all the time the effect wears off.
OTS: And for downtime?
JM: I like to keep up to date with what's happening in the freeski world and when I’m in a ski resort in the mountains, that is my way of being relaxed. Most of my best friends are skiers so we usually have a pretty good time. I will hopefully live somewhere with snow one day.
OTS: Who are you excited to see compete and what event are you most looking forward to?
JM: Well, I’m very excited to watch Joe Hides this year, everyone knows he is the boss on a trampoline and he has recently been putting those skills on snow, I think he will turn a few heads this year. I’m also looking forward to watching Rob Machon and Pete Speight battle it out in the halfpipe.
OTS: What do you think are necessary ingredients for a good ski festival?
JM: The ingredients for a good ski festival is a good atmosphere and good music. There needs to be extreme stunts on all the time, such as skiing, snowboarding, moto X, big music artists, and most importantly it needs to be in a good location with lots of people who are stoked on skiing.
Unfortunately I’ll be encouraging the rest of the competitors this year as I’m recovering from an injury. I really would have liked to gone for 5 titles in a row, but I’ve won the event for years now and now my focus has turned to a new goal which is Sochi 2014, but I’ll be back at the Brits next year in full force.
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