Plenty of smart money is on Tyler Jay Harding being the next big thing in British freeskiing. These are the park riders who’ve stoked up the Halifax teenager
1. James Woods
He’s shown it can be done. That you don’t have to be from Austria or France, or born in the mountains. That you can come from Sheffield, Halifax or wherever, and be right up there with the world’s best skiers. His slopestyle – winning world cups and getting medals at the X Games – has shown me if you work hard, you can be the best. It’s possible! It doesn’t matter where you come from. That’s a huge thing.
2. Candide Thovex
You are going to get injured riding park. I’m just coming back from a long lay-off, and only after 13 months feeling about right. He’s inspired me that no matter what happens, and how long you’re out, you can come back better. He had an awful injury (breaking his back), and plenty of people said he’d not ski again. Then he did these amazing video parts (Candide Kamera) and won the Freeride World Tour. Amazing. He seems pretty modest about it all, too.
3. Tanner Hall
He’s only like the messiah of skiing! When I was growing up – and glued to ESPN and the X Games – he’d do the half-pipe and smash it; then do slopestyle and smash it. He was awesome. Obviously Simon Dumont and people like that are the main men now, but I used to love how Tanner would just charge it. He was the biggest guy of his day, had all that pressure, but could do everything and make it all look so easy. Nothing seemed to bother him.
4. TJ Schiller
It sounds funny, but when I was 9 or 10, I used to love him because we share the same initials. Those funny little things when you’re young mean something. He was just coming on the scene, skiing unbelievably well, and about the same age I am now (17). I just really wanted to ski like him and be at the X Games like him. There was no Olympics then for freestyle skiing; the X Games was where it was at.
5. Shaun White
Can I have a snowboarder? So many have influenced skiers and vice-versa, particularly in slopestyle. My Dad snowboards, and Shaun White’s the one guy we’d be watching all the time when I was younger. I didn’t so much think of myself as skiing at the start. Just being on snow. And he’s been a huge, brilliant influence on snowsports and he’s still doing it now at all the big comps. I don’t go with all that stuff now about him being the bad guy.