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Scotty James: Winnings at Burton in Vail will help workers in Australia for brushfire animal rescue

Austrialian snowboarding sensation has a $50,000 fundraising goal

Scotty James, en route to clenching the top qualifying spot in the Men's Halfpipe Semi-Finals at the Burton US Open on Thursday.
Barry Eckhaus | Special to the Daily

While the brushfires were raging in Australia, Scotty James was in Switzerland, feeling helpless as reports came that more than 1 billion animals had been killed.

“It was pretty tough, watching it,” he said.

James made a quick decision to donate a portion of his contest winnings to help people who are trying to rescue and look after any surviving animals. With a goal of $50,000 set, a good finish at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail on Saturday could get him there.

“I hope it helps,” he said.

Competitive spirit

In starting up the fundraising effort, James said he also found an extra purpose to keep a strong competitive spirit.

“It sounds kind of silly, because what we do is amazing, and I’m very grateful, and it’s always an awesome experience,” James said. “but wanting to win all the time isn’t always a huge motivation. … For me, where I’m at now, having something a little bit more than just the win to ride for, getting the opportunity to give back a little bit more has made me push even harder to obviously want to win or do really well at these competitions.”

James has won just about everything over the last couple of years, notching wins at all the big events including X Games, the Dew Tour and the Burton US Open, where he enters Saturday’s halfpipe finals as the defending champion.

He said he’s also been inspired by the people who have offered to help him contribute to the fund.

“I saw so many amazing donations from people who, I don’t even know if they’ve been to Australia before,” he said. “A lot of people have the same mutual love for animals, and it was just devastating — it didn’t really matter where you came from.”

‘Two complete extremes’

And in an era where the internet can be both a gift and a curse, James said he realized that social media can be a good thing when properly deployed.

“I’m not a huge advocate for a lot of social media things: I think it can be quite a toxic environment for people to be too indulged in all the time,” James said. “But when athletes and people with a lot of credibility on social media can actually use their platform as a way to share stories or get support for things like the Australian bushfires … I think it’s very cool.”

James said his social media followers can expect similar efforts from him in the future.

“In Australia we had the worst bushfires we ever had, and then a week later we had the worst flash floods we ever had, and people like my parents were sending me pictures of smashed windows from golf ball-sized hailstones falling down from the sky, two complete extremes,” he said. “I think it’s important to be conscious about what we are doing to the Earth, because in those situations it’s devastating because it’s talking back and trying to tell us that we’re slowly ruining it, and we sit here and get devastated about these things and I think we can make a difference. We can all make a difference, for sure. It doesn’t have to be anything huge either: Any little thing can help.”


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