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On the face of it, Jamie Phillp is a mass of contradictions. As an English boy born in the town of Exeter, his ski-instructing parents moved to the tiny Pyreneesian principality of Andorra when he was five, and turned him loose on the local mountain. “He didn't want to turn, even then,” is how his mum describes the early years, and this swift progression has been a feature of his riding ever since.
By the time he was thirteen, Jamie was ranked top two in Andorra for his age, but he'd switched his attention to snowboarding, attracted by the increased opportunities to leave the ground snowboarding offered. After riding for about six months, he entered his first British championships at the French resort of Val d'Isere, won everything in his age group, left with a liking for halfpipes, a new sponsorship deal, and a lot of attention. By the time he finished school, he was good enough to turn professional, set off on the travels that would take him around the world, and to his current enviable position.
So far, so straightforward, if you're from Scandinavia. But for an English kid to be given such an opportunity is far from straightforward, and it comes down to one thing, talent. Jamie's riding is strong, and more than that, he can ride everything. He proved this at the British Championships held in Saas Fee in '98. As he was seventeen at the time, Jamie was still counted as a junior, but this didn't stop him from winning almost everything he entered. He eventually won the overall senior title, which he achieved by finishing first in the halfpipe, the boardercross, and placing second in
Last season, Jamie was based at the Swiss resort of Laax, although he did spend time competing on the World Cup tour and a little while freeriding and filming in the States. On his first day, he was spotted by filmmaker Todd Hazeltine, beginning a colaboration resulting in Jamie's section in the upcoming Diaries of a Madman video.
This winter, Jamie will again be based in Laax, and it's likely he'll spend his time riding the pipe, competing when possible, and preparing for a trip to Alaska with fellow Billabong riders Axel Pauporté and Yannick Amevet. Such a situation could go to your head, but knowing Jamie, it's fair to say he'll take it all in stride. These days, he's touted as the kid “most likely to” by the European snowboarding cognescenti, and has been described by myself in a more excitable moment as the first UK snowboarding superstar
of the twenty-first century. I'm pretty sure such thoughts are
an anathema to Jamie, who is definitely more concerned with progression, going bigger than he already does, and riding the world's best halfpipes. It's good to see the boy has his priorities straight.–Matt Barr