is pretty much a household name for mountain bikers. He went viral doing airs on his balance bike at 4 years old
, and has gone bigger and bigger every year since. He has had plenty of contest results and content successes since then, culminating in winning the Crankworx New Zealand Whip Offs last year at age 16. He's going into year three with ENVE so we asked Jackson what's next?What was it like being basically at the top of the sport as such a young kid? What was good and what was challenging?
I don’t know if I’m fully at the top, but I definitely feel like I got a head start, ha. It’s been really nice, going to Crankworx and having people notice me. It is pretty mind blowing. I never thought I’d be here.What’s day-to-day life like for you? Are you in online school or do you go to a physical school?
Before Covid, I was doing online school from my computer. I would go to the same school as the kids in my area, but do my work in a separate class because I found it hard to focus at home. I started going back to school this term because I’m doing some hard classes like Physics and Socials. I find those a bit easier in person. But usually I wake up, go to school and ride after school when I can.Was it hard to meet people your own age when you didn’t go to school at the same times as other kids?
I have buddies from school, but also have friends on factory teams from racing and stuff, so I have people to go ride and train with. Even though Squamish is a small town, I still have a lot of friends here because everyone is pretty condensed. It’s nice, almost everybody rides at school, because it’s Squamish.Have you ever gotten turned away from an event because of your age?
Yep, tons of events. So far, World Cups – but next year that is going to change.
When I was around 10 or 12, I did a Whip Off event at Les Gets, and it was kind of up in the air if I was allowed to do it or not. Crankworx went ahead with it and figured they would ask for forgiveness later. It was great, everything went well and I didn't die. I tried to go to the one in Whistler the next year and they said no. The higher-ups didn’t like that, probably because of insurance and some other reasons. My argument was that if I was competent enough to be there I should be allowed to compete, but nope.
Also there was Nitro Circus in Vancouver. I was there for the practice day, just having fun on the jump and getting to experience it. There was no chance for me getting into the main show, but somehow right before it started they got a hold of the higher ups and they let me into the show. That was a time that it actually worked out for me. That was a really fun event.Wow, that’s awesome. What was Nitro Circus like?
It was gnarly. I didn’t even know what was happening, really. I was trying to hit a 50 foot jump, and everyone was screaming, and it was scary. But it was super sick at the same time. Travis gave me his jersey after the show, and signed it for me. I’ve got it up on my wall.How did 2020 go for you, with so many shutdowns and cancellations?
The first three months were pretty good actually, at least from February on. On January 1st I broke my collarbone. I was the first patient of 2020 at the Vancouver hospital, which was pretty funny. I had a surgery and was somehow riding again in about 22 days. I don’t know what I did, must have had a good surgeon or something!
Once it was all healed up and I was riding again I went to New Zealand for Crankworx. I went to Queenstown for a few days beforehand, and then went to the event in Rotorua. It was amazing– I won the downhill, pump track and whip off. The whip off was the icing on the cake, as it was the first year I was officially allowed to compete, and the first time I had actually won.So then back to 2020 – what happened after Crankworx?
I got home on Monday and then by Friday we were on lockdown. If I had been home a week later I would have had to do the mandatory two week lockdown, strictly inside my house, so I just missed that. I got pretty lucky.
I was supposed to fly to Europe right after I got home to go to Masters of Dirt, but I woke up at 5 AM to go to the airport and found out it got cancelled. So yeah. Kind of a bummer, but it’s been nice being home. I’ve been doing a lot of trail building and riding locally.How’s the trail building going? Is that something you do pretty regularly?
I picked it up a couple years ago. During quarantine I built a trail, called Quaran“teen”, ha. It turned out to be really short because it was gnarlier than I thought, and was basically just one feature.
I built another trail that is super sick though. It has a 30-foot step down right off the start, into some flowy, loamy stuff. It’d be really hard to ride if you don’t know what’s coming up because everything is pretty technical. You have to dive between trees and know where you're going, which is cool. I built a set of dirt jumps as well, in the bush.Would you have done all of that if not for the shutdown?
No, definitely not. I would have gotten some stuff done, but not to this extent. Squamish has a ton of trails, but I can’t always ride every single trail, so it’s fun to find something else to do.Favorite send of the year?
Loosefest. It’s made up of basically the biggest jumps you can hit on a mountain bike, about 100 feet or so. It was my biggest send for sure. I was able to get through the line my first go, and it was the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had. Audi Nines is big, like 60 - 70 feet, but once you get to 100 feet, it’s like another full three seconds in the air. It felt good.
My second biggest was at Audi Nines. On the very last day, while everybody was packing up and on their way home, two of my buddies and I did one last lap. There’s a jump in the middle of the line that’s super kicky, and I had been afraid to do any tricks on it. Since it was the last hit, I figured I’d send it. While I was going up the lip, I decided I was going to pull for a backflip. It ended up being the perfect flip and I landed it smooth. Nobody got a video of it as the video guys were already home and the GoPros were all dead. But it was probably the best feeling I had there. I could talk about it all day.Photos by Tom BowellWhat’s your plan for 2021?
It’s going to be pretty similar to last year, with the addition of the World Cups. I’ll be doing most of the same events like Loosefest and Audi Nines, but my racing career will trump all of that. It’ll be racing over jumping. There’s only going to be six World Cups this year, which is going to be good for me, as it means less traveling.
I’m pretty stoked on my sponsorship and schedule for next year, because it gives me the flexibility I need. If I was on a factory team, I’d be a lot more tied down. But with my setup, I can go to Fest Series and Crankworx in addition to World Cup races. If I was on a factory team, I wouldn’t have the same freedom. But, it does make racing a bit hard, as you don’t get the same support at the races. But, overall I think my bike, my parts and stuff are great – the best of the best.Why racing?
Ha, good question. I started racing BMX really young and it's always been a part of me. In Downhill, the clock doesn't lie, no judges or anyone else can affect your ride.
Another reason is Squamish has better downhilling compared to jumping and freeriding. We only just got a set of dirt jumps and a pump track. With all of the downhilling, it makes it a lot easier for me to train. I also think it’s just a little more fun to go fast down trails – not saying that going in the air isn’t fun too.
I feel like you have to do the first couple of years in juniors downhill if you want to make it, where you could start a bit later for freeride. So, I’m just going to give this my best shot, and if it doesn’t work out, then I can go be a freeride bum.Anyone you’re eyeing up on the junior circuit? Who are you worried about?
Yep. My good buddy and filmer Jacob Jewett – he’s on the Canyon factory team. He’s been injured this year and hasn’t done a ton of riding, but he’s probably my biggest competition--because he’s a friend, but also because he’s just really fast. Oisin O Callaghan, he rides for YT, is also really fast, and he’s a friend of mine. Some friendly competition.
Also my buddy from South Africa, Ike Klassen, it’s his first year, and he’s fast. The other two guys are in their second year, so it’ll be nice to have him there with me doing our first year together.
There’s a guy from the Commencal team with Amaury named Tristan. He’s from Quebec, and he’s really fast. Ethan Craig from GT, he’s going to be pinned. There are probably a bunch of others that I've never raced too. I'm sure Max Commencal is developing young French kids some in his secret lair. It’s going to be a good year.How do you feel about Rampage? Would you want to compete there?
I would love to do Rampage, but I feel I’m still a bit far out from doing it. The fact that some of the big guys like Reed Boggs are just getting into it makes me feel like I’m still a ways out from getting there. One day. It’s definitely on the bucket list. I’d be really stoked.Is there an age restriction on Rampage?
I don’t think there’s an age limit, but the things you have to do are pretty tough. You have to do the Proving Grounds and win there. So I don’t think it’s an age thing, you’ve just got to be really good.Plans for the winter?
Just got a new ski setup, which I’m stoked about.
I’ll definitely slow down riding, as it’s kind of too muddy and cold. It gets dark early too, around 3:30 or so, which is close to when school gets out. I’ll probably do a lot more skiing, which is fine with me. I’ll hopefully get to relax a bit before I get into it next year. Oh, and school. That’s a big thing this winter, ha.A lot of people would have loved to be in your position when they were your age. We’re now all sitting at desks wishing we were riding our bikes for a living. You’re out there living the dream, and probably will be for a long time coming. What do you want to say you’ve accomplished by the time you’re old and grown like us?
There’s definitely the obvious things: I would love to win the World Cup, World Champs, and win lots of other events. These are personal goals. But honestly, I just want to do my best, and inspire people to keep riding. I think I’ve done a good job inspiring young kids, and encouraging them to get on run bikes really early. It’s been sick to see mountain biking growing in this way. I’d also love to see the world, travel as much as I can, and have fun on my bike.www.enve.com
Join Pinkbike Login