Words by Ryan Flett
I first met Jonathan Rollins four years ago, on my first day working at Red Mountain Resort as their media content manager. I was watching a bunch of groms hitting a small jump. While most flailed and fell, on 16-year-old Rollins’s first hit, he threw the tiniest but most stylish backflip I'd ever seen. From that point on, and for the next four years, he became my go-to athlete to shoot with.
Now 20-years-old, Rollins is a product of the funky mountain town that is Rossland, British Columbia, and has honed his skills on the mighty testing grounds of Red, a place that shaped skiing culture in Western Canada over a century ago. At the age of three, Rollins’ father, Greg, had him skiing on a leash, and recalls him wanting to hit every bump and jump he could as they ripped around the resort that they still call home. By the time he was nine, Rollins decided it was time to land his first backflip.
“I’m always chasing that feeling of fun I had as a nine-year-old landing the first one,” he says.
During his teenage years, Rollins competed in junior freeride events, but found that having to go all-out in less-than-ideal conditions lost its lustre over time. From there, he began throwing bigger tricks in the backcountry around Red, in an effort to bring together his eclectic mix of inspirations: the burly terrain at his home resort, and the online content of park skiers from around the world. He counts the likes of Candide Thovex, Henrik Harlaut and Sammy Carlson as influences, which you can see every day in his skiing. He also credits a trio of pro skiers who came out of Rossland: Mike Hopkins, Dane Tudor and James Heim, as mentors. With Tudor, “always being the guy I can go to for advice on skiing and the industry,” and Heim now serving at Rollins’ team manager at Head. Due to the small size and community-centric nature of Rossland, all three have lent a helping hand over the years, providing Rollins with advice, guidance and some of the best ski partners he could ask for.
Now, with film and photo shoots abounding, and support from Head, Quiksilver, Red, and Powderhound Sports, Rollins simply wants to keep that same feeling he had when he landed his first backflip all those years ago.
“No matter what happens, I just want nine-year-old Jonathan to be proud that it’s still all about the fun and stoke.”