Snowboarder John Jackson is Here to Entertain You

The long strange trip to recovery continues for this ultra-talented snowboarder.
© Benjamin Webb
By Nate Hoppes

Coming off a serious injury that caused him to miss the majority of the past two seasons, everyone's favorite snowboarder John Jackson is back, he's healthy and this time around he's doing it his way.

Together with his friends, John J created a new web series, 'Air Time,' following their summer adventures with the intention of inspiring people to get outside.

The first three episodes feature the crew thrashing around in a dune buggy, creative ditchboarding, climbing Mt. Ritter to snowboard crusty summer snow, and taking a custom-built truck to Mexico to find surf.

A new episode drops every Wednesday on Transworld Snowboarding.

We caught up with John J to discuss his new series, plus the difficult road to recovery, and his plans for the upcoming season.

Tell us about how your new web series 'Air Time' came about?

I got together with my friend Benjamin Webb, who did production on Brothers on The Run over the summer to build something to promote outdoor exploration and activity. I've been hurt the past couple of seasons, and haven't put a lot out there. There's not much snowboarding in the web series, but the goal is to inspire kids to get outside, get creative and have fun doing it.

We really wanted to create a strange web series that had the constant theme of a dream-type consensus.

It's been fun doing this independently, I love doing projects where you can do whatever you want.

So who is Noobs? He plays a big role in the series?

He's a super good friend of mine. He came on halfway through Brothers on the Run in 2012 to help us out. We already had a Ben on the trip, so he became "new Ben," then it turned to "little new Ben." And then it turned to "Noobs." I've become really close to that little Canadian.

He's a great character, he's super fun, he's a great editor and filmer. This series is supposed to be all about the great friends you're with. We'll continue to build Noobs into this series more and more. 

Why did you decide to take matters into your hands and produce your own series?

Part of it was being injured and not producing much content in the past couple seasons. I work my ass off and I love to produce quality stuff, I just haven't been able to with being injured. Through the recovery time this summer, I decided to do whatever I could to represent myself and my sponsors. It's been fun doing this independently, I love doing projects where you can do whatever you want.

© Benjamin Webb

What's been the best part of producing your own series?

Having the freedom to do whatever we please has been really cool. I want to continue to do more stuff like this. Hopefully it will inspire others to tell their own cool story.

The idea of this was totally different than what I'm used to. What I'm used to is really pushing for gnarly things, doing what I'm really good at, which is snowboarding. This is more of a personality and philosophy based project. I'd like to combine this with some next level snowboarding.

Not being able to do what you love is the most painful thing in the world.

Switching gears, what's it like for you, not being able to snowboard these past two years due to injury?

It's been super rough. (pause) Yeah, it's been rough. I hurt myself riding during Brothers on the Run in the summer of 2012. Since then, I've followed protocol, I even went far beyond what was required. Hours of physical therapy. The whole process was really frustrating; it just wasn't getting much better.

When the next season came, I went to Japan to attempt to film. My knee wasn't ready and it blew out pretty quickly. I had surgery right after the second time to hopefully get myself back on track quicker.

What's been the most difficult part of not being able to snowboard?

That's exactly it, not being able to do what you love is the most painful thing in the world. Financial freedom is nice, but your health takes the cake. Being healthy is the most important thing in my world. It's a struggle mentally and physically when you're not healthy.

Through these injuries, I feel like staying positive has been the most important part. I like to think my time being injured can be a good thing.

It's also giving me an opportunity to work on other avenues of business, like our jewelry line, Jax Union, or our restaurant, 1107, in Utah.

John J filming of Brothers on the Run in Anchorage
John J filming for Brothers on the Run in Alaska © Scott Serfas/Red Bull Content Pool

Have you developed a new sense of appreciation for snowboarding?

Totally, when I did ride for those two short weeks in Japan, I had so much gratitude for the sport. Every day I rode, I was losing my mind, it was so insane. Having those butterflies come again when at the top, fuck... I miss that feeling. I love that feeling. Every little emotion while riding, I was just enjoying it to the fullest.

Now that you're healthy and looking to get back on your board this season, what's your mindset like?

I'm not afraid physically. If I'm healthy, I can perform on my snowboard at the same level. But mentally, it's going to take some time and strategy to gain confidence. Going into this season, riding smart and selective will be important.

I'm really hungry and fired up, but I need to listen to my body. I've taken those last two injuries out of my mind. I'm excited and feel that much stronger heading into next season.

I never even thought I was going to be a pro snowboarder, I've just wanted to learn as much as possible. If i'm not learning, I'm bored and stagnant.

What's in store for you in the upcoming season?

I'm hoping to film with Travis Rice and Red Bull as much as I can. I will be trying to devote my time to that project. Also, I want to continue the web series throughout the year. It's nice to engage with the snowboarding audience all year long.

There are different paths a pro snowboarder can take; how have you chosen your path?

I never even thought I was going to be a pro snowboarder, I've just wanted to learn as much as possible. If i'm not learning, I'm bored and stagnant. The path I've taken has brought me here through the phases of snowboarding, from gaining sponsors and going through the competition circuit to following my love of exploring the backcountry.

You can look at a mountain and interpret it a hundred different ways. Everyone does it different, so I'm lucky to be supported to do what I love to do.

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