At just 21 years old, Justin Phipps is no stranger to our screens. This year alone, he has standout footage in ‘Dorothy’ and L1’s ‘Tomorrow World.’ But he may be a stranger to the general public — no better time than now to introduce Phipps to the K2 Snowboarding Team and our little snowboard world.
Where are you from, and how did you start snowboarding?
I'm from Arvada, Colorado, 15 minutes outside of Denver. I started skiing first when I was three, and the next season, my dad put me on a snowboard. We would ride Loveland and Copper every weekend.
How did it go from a weekend hobby to where you wanted to be a snowboarder?
There was a crew in CO called SixEleven. I grew up watching those videos, and they were local. They hooked me and my dad up with their videos every season. So that really encouraged me to get into it. The first movie I saw outside of that was Think Thank's Left Brain, Right Brain. I would watch it in the basement all the time. Even though I was a weekend warrior, I always thought about snowboarding.
When did you know you wanted to get better and, for lack of a better word, train?
I started doing USASA when I was 11 or 12. And I did it for two years. I only did slopestyle. But that wasn’t really for me. I smoked myself on the last jump at Nationals. My dad got me hooked on the filming in the street, so we went and did that.
You and your dad?
Yeah, he got me into street snowboarding. He took me to my first spot. He didn’t hit it with me, haha. But he hyped me up and filmed it on a GoPro, I think.
How did you go from hitting street spots with your Dad to moving to Salt Lake?
So I started filming with my dad. And then I moved up to bigger crews that were in Colorado. So I started filming with, like, Seth Hill, Dylan Wilson, all homies that wanted to go out. I came out with more of the parts when I was in Colorado. I started thinking about what I wanted to do after high school. I saw that all my friends were moving to Salt Lake. So I was like, alright, I'm going to move there. But my mom said, you are going to the U. So I applied, got in, and now I’m here.
So you are a student as well! Do you have winters off? What are you majoring in?
Since I started going to college freshman year, I was actually full-time, and I was also taking summer classes. I’ve always taken summer classes. I am studying strategic communications. This is going to be the first winter I taking completely off of school.
Does being in school help with snowboarding? Are you learning twice as much, haha?
Being in school, especially like going to a university, you're forced to form a work ethic. So, that translates into snowboarding when it comes to getting a clip or just hiking a spot. School is where you just have that mindset to keep going, to get the final product.
Well, congratulations on getting into The U and now officially being a part of K2. How did that all happen?
I’ve been living in Utah for three or four years now. K2 came into my life around two years ago—last January. I was bowling with the team manager. I was super nervous, but I just asked him if I could get some boards. And that’s how it started. K2 has been around for so long, and they've had so many legendary riders on the team.
What was the draw to K2 boards?
The team and graphics. The videographer Seamus. He is one of my favorite editors. Now Mark Wilson is there—everything about the brand and the people that are a part of it.
So that’s two winters ago; what have the past two winters been like?
This is the first time I’ve been a part of a big company, like playing a bigger role in snowboarding. So I’ve been meeting a bunch of people, getting to know how everything operates, And getting to go on like real, cool trips. Last winter, I traveled out of the country. I went to Japan, and that was the trip of a lifetime.
You’ve had a busy past couple of years. What are some things you’ve put out?
Two years ago, I filmed with Bryden for Fly Away Closer. That was my first time having my own segment in a video, and he surprised me with that. I thought I would have cameos, and then I saw my name on the screen for a whole part. Last year, I filmed for Dorothy, went on a trip to Japan with K2, and filmed for the L1 movie.
So you take classes, film snowboarding, and are in a band?
Haha, yeah, Gap Year is a band I started with my friends Keyan and Ethan. It’s been a good way for me to let out energy, emotion, whatever it is. It is a good way to spend my free time.
Free time? Do you have that? How do you do it?
Honestly, it's the support from my parents, my dad, and the freedom they have let me do what I wanted. I’ve always wanted to do this, and they’ve always supported me.