Interview: Jye Kearney

“I ended up arriving in the wrong Airport. I was about 400km from where I was meant to be!” – Jye Kearney


Today not even the sky is the limit. When Jye Kearney was 11 years of age he set the pace by convincing his parents to uproot their home and move to the modest Winter, party town of Jindabyne following a little taste of the ever fresh powder during a holiday. Now at the age of 17, he’s throwing down tricks that make the weak stomached throw up in their mouths as he backflips his way through the snowboarding world. It’s good to see the young guys coming through at this level as they’re the ones who didn’t quite lay the foundation, but one day will be the renewed underpinning of snowboarding as it continues to grow and win hearts across the board riding community. He might be a little punk, but it’s just part of what makes him a marketable snowboarder who rips and who everyone wants a piece of.

So Mr Jye Kearney, what essentials are a must for your Trunk?

Well, I don’t have a car yet! I’m still on my Learners Permit, but in early November I purchased a form of legal transport to get me around town. It’s a Motorised 66cc Petrol Cruiser Bicycle. It’s so good! That is when it’s actually working…it’s broken right now.

So you upped and moved from the Gold Coast to Jindabyne at the age of 11 to pursue snowboarding? How did such a huge decision come about?

Basically for my love and dedication to snowboarding. The family made the choice to relocate to Jindabyne so that it would make it easier to do winter seasons, without having to move schools all the time, going back and forth, etc.

How old are you now?

At the moment I’m 17, but turning 18 on March 21st.

Who are your proud sponsors?

Burton, Oakley, Boost Mobile, Grenade, Neff and Rhythm Board shop.

You’re quite a big dude for your age, plan on slowing down the growth spurts anytime soon?

I can’t control that one, but it’s looking like I’m not actually going to be too big that my size will cause any disadvantages or effect my riding. I am still a size 9.5 boot and only around 182cm tall, and I’ve been told I won’t get much taller.

How’s life spent chasing winter seasons? What are the most back-to-back seasons you’ve juggled?

Well, I have never done a full-length season overseas yet. Usually, I have only been able to afford to stay overseas for up to three to four months and it’s been that way for the last three back to back seasons. Before that, when I was around 13 years old, I would go over for six-week stints.

What’s your favourite spot for snowboarding and why?

The USA has been my main terrain. I love the resorts of Northstar Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain in California. They are super fun with good snow, warmer weather, and having more sunny days than not is always nice. They’re especially good for exploring the backcountry.

Where’s your next big ‘holiday destination’? Who’s the trip for?

I will be doing a two-week photo shoot with Australian Snowboarding Magazine through Europe in mid-January, cruising around Switzerland and Austria. Then from there I will be based in Tahoe for three months shooting an OZ/NZ movie for Transfer Magazine and Reason Films.

Got any funny stories from the road?

Oh yeah, it’s never ending… So many, but this one time when I was 14 and by myself, flying into Vermont USA, I ended up arriving in the wrong Airport. I was about 400km from where I was meant to be! I had to get a taxi to the right town, which cost like $400 and it so was not very funny at the time, but now I look back at it and it just cracks me up!

Rails or big airs?

Big air then rails

What would you say your signature trick is?

Double back flip.

Talk us through your top 5 tricks in your repertoire?

Back 180 into cab 540, then back 900 into cab 7, and back 1080.

What is your worst bail out of interest?

I had a close call with the sled last season. We were doubling up a steep mountain and when we started tearing up the top we lost speed and the sled started to flip over. I bailed and then the sled nearly landed on top of me!

Injury List?

There’s not too many on the list luckily: Broken collarbone, torn Achilles tendon, sprained ankle, and a couple of concussions.

There always seems to be a bigger and better tricks coming out of snowboarding. Has Jye Kearney got any trick development plans under his sleeve?

We will have to wait and see, until then I’m just keeping it smooth and clean.

How was it travelling on the road with the Transfer Team shooting their flick, ‘Made You Look’? Tell us about the trip?

It was the best experience for me with lots of hard work and commitment over a short period of only three months I had to play with. I had to get a sled for the backcountry shoots, which was super fun.

What’s the snowboard scene and lifestyle like for guys at your age? Are you all a bunch of little punks?

Nah, only me! Ha ha.

Any good parties down there in the snow?

There are a few. Maybe a few too many, but hey that’s what Jindy is famous for.

Who are some other guys your age that you have to try to keep up with and vice-versa?

There is a bunch of us all around the same age, though it’s mainly Americans and a couple of Europeans. Some kids dominating right now are Canadians Seb Toots and Mark McMorris, Euro kids Stale Sandbech and Roopie Tonteri, and Americans Tyler Flannigan and Ben Watts.

Are any girls giving you guys a run for your money on the slopes?

Not a chance! The Chicks are way behind.

What big names have you faced off against in competition before?

Guys like Mikkel Bang, Danny Kass, but Snowboarding comps cater more for the open age group so you have to compete at the top level. Junior events are not as common.

So who do you look up to? Who have been the most inspirational and influential figures in your snowboarding career?

Riders with good style! I watch riders and just take notice of things. It’s not always about what trick you can do, but how you do it. So riders like Ikka Backstrom, Travis Rice and Gigi Ruff all influence me. Closer to home I have been inspired by Aussie guys like Russel Holt, Nugg man, Ryan Tiene, and Bman. They’re all Good people to watch!

So what can the future expect of Jye Kearney?

To keep on doing what I’m doing and just focus on snowboarding. Also doing my best to keep up with the rest, always having fun with it, filming movies mainly and travelling to rad places amongst it all, and hanging with an awesome crew. Overall just living the shred life!

In an unfortunate world where snowboarding did not exist, what would you rather do, skate, surf, or wakeboard?

I like them all, but I would skate mostly.


Photo credit: Vaughan Brookfield

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© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016

Jye Kearney Interview Two