Talented teen aims for the sky with Big Air ambitions

Justin Taylor-Tipton

Justin Taylor-Tipton competes at the BRITS in 2017 (Credit: Motionstoppers Photography)

17-year-old Justin Taylor-Tipton has been following the PyeongChang 2018 coverage closely with British ski slopestyle idols James “Woodsy” Woods and Tyler Harding chasing medals at the Games.

Inspired by the strong ski and snowboard presence at the Winter Olympics, current TASS recipient Taylor-Tipton is one of the next generation of Park and Pipe hopefuls aiming to emulate this success in the next Olympic cycle.

“I also like watching Henrik Harlaut, the Swedish skier. He’s insanely stylish and he’s definitely one of the top dogs! I love the way he sees skiing and how he’s creative when he messes around with different axes of flips and spins – it’s the way he approaches the sport.”

Known in skiing circles as JTT, a nickname coined by a muddled commentator during a competition, the 2017 BRITS Big Air Champion is now in training for an action-packed year ahead including the World Junior Freestyle Championships in August.

“Last year was my first Junior Worlds in Valmalenco in Italy and although I crashed both runs it was an amazing experience,” he reveals. “I’m looking forward to heading back out to Laax in March, then it’s the BRITS in April where I’m hoping to hold onto the Big Air title.”

“The cork 7 mute grab is my go to trick on every jump at the moment, but I also love the switch cork five with arrow grab. I only learnt a few weeks ago in Switzerland but I’m already incorporating it. I just aim to make a trick more stylish if I can.”

“There’s a lot of freedom in the sport and you can express yourself through the tricks you do. In slopestyle, everyone’s got their own individual style and you can be creative – I try to be as free and smooth as possible,” he explains.

Taylor-Tipton is part of the Freestyle National Academy, a partnership between Snowsport England and British Ski and Snowboard to support talented athletes who have been identified as having the potential to progress to world-class.

The future freestyle star first tried the sport aged 10, having enjoyed race skiing at Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre, near Burton. “I tried freestyle for a laugh after my race training. I learned to 180 and slide a tube in one day and I just stuck at it from there.”

With one eye now firmly focused on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the college student is also aiming to complete his studies and qualify with a BTEC in Sports Coaching to allow him realise his ambition to teach skiing in the future.

“To work out in Laax in Switzerland would be my dream as there’s really great facilities and I’d like to coach the younger skiers coming through like my coach Joe Tyler does. He was a professional freestyle skier in the early days, which was before anyone did double flips!”

Fortunately, Taylor-Tipton has previously benefitted from SportsAid funding during his young career and is now a recipient of TASS support at the University of Nottingham, helping him to manage the demands of keeping up with college work while training abroad.

“The money from SportAid really helped me to be able to go away and train, which would have been difficult otherwise with the high cost of flights and accommodation. I do find it hard at times as there’s not much spare time, but I try to fit in work while I’m on the plane.

“I’m definitely taking advantage of TASS support available by getting into the gym for strength and conditioning sessions specific to skiing. I didn’t really go to the gym much before,” he admits, “I was a bit intimidated by all the hench guys!”