Professional sugar fiend. Photo Andy Wright/Nike Snowboarding
You may think of Johnnie Paxson as that really, really ridiculously good looking Yobeat T-shirt model, or the kid who will backflip anything, or MFM’s protege, or the even “the Golden Pony.” (We’re not sure what that last one means.) No matter what you think though, he’s not only a damn good boarder, but a nice guy as well. After suffering a gnarly knee injury last year, the Oregon native is on the mend and finally back on snow. We caught up with him to eat some candy and take some runs at Timberline, and then asked him a bunch ridiculous questions about coming back from his injury, male modeling, meth and more. This is Johnnie Paxson’s second hump day, and while some things never change, a lot has, so read on to hear all about it.
Brooke: Does candy help you snowboard? What’s the most sugar you’ve consumed in a single sitting?
Johnnie: Yes it does. I try to eat it while snowboarding most of the time. It’s combining the two things I love most in life. It would be like if you went snowboarding with a cat, which you should probably try. It’s hard to say on the amount, but an unhealthy dose for sure.
Now that that’s out of the way, what did you do to your knee?
Last year, February 7th, I was in Mazama, WA on an Anon trip with North Cascades Heli. It was my first time heli boarding and it was super fun. Towards the end of the second day it got kinda icy and it was crust on top of pow and ended up hitting a tree. Dislocated my knee. Had surgery February 24th. It was supposed to be a year recovery, but I got back on the snow a couple months early — with my doctor’s blessing. He said it was ok if I take it mellow and slow to get it to where I need to be. I’m psyched to be back on snow, it’s hard to explain how much. I’m just so grateful to be able to snowboard again, and the fact that it feels so good is pretty awesome. I just don’t ever want to take a day of snowboarding for granted. You should never have a bad day snowboarding. It sucks that it takes an injury to realize that. There’s actually a lot of good things you can pull out of injuries, but the main thing is just how grateful you are to be back snowboarding again. I have the best job ever.
The calm before the storm in Mazama. Photo: Scott Serfas
Is it better than modeling?
Yes, definitely better than modeling.
Do you do much modeling anymore?
I just kinda got lucky with those few that I did and then I actually got an agent and ever since then I haven’t gotten any jobs. They always want the new fresh thing — so now that they can have me, they don’t want me. I have an agent in NYC and I go there every once in awhile, but it’s hard because it’s the top agency in the world and I’m the bottom of the barrel. I think you kinda have to like, live in NY to be there and go to things. At some point I might try to do more of it, but right now I’m trying to focus on snowboarding.
You could be an attractive older male model.
Maybe, I might just get uglier.
Ha! Yeah right, only women get uglier. It’s bullshit, really. Back to injury talk. How do you go about recovering from basically tearing your knee in half?
Well, Nike’s been a huge help. I go to Nike like three times a week and I have a physical therapist and a trainer, so that’s been huge. I’ve been doing that for pretty close to a year now, driving out there every other day and that and trying to stay sane not doing much of anything.
What have you been doing to stay sane — did having a house to work on help?
Well, I bought a house and started remodeling it, and then hurt my knee and basically had to live in the house with two rooms finished and the rest of the house basically in pieces, which kinda drove me crazy. But then slowly I was able to do more and started to be able to work on it more. That and just doing rehab. I don’t know, it’s hard, especially the extent of the injury didn’t allow me to do much at all. I’m a really active person, as are a lot of snowboarders, and it’s tough. You gotta have an outlet. It was rough there for a minute.
Going hard in the streetz. Photo: Andy Wright/Nike Snowboarding
Living in Gresham, unofficial meth capitol of Oregon, you could at least do that, right?
(laughs) Yeah…been cooking a lot of that stuff lately.
You’re joking right?
(laughs) Nah, business is great.
Good thing you’re snowboarding again.
Yeah, it was supposed to be a year recovery but I got started on New Years Eve/day was my first day on hill. I go three days a week to Nike and ride three days a week right now and in like a month or so I’ll get back to filming and trying to get shots, bro.
Grown up snowboard stuff. photo: Scott Serfas
Are you going to backflip off giant stuff to flat again, or are you kinda over that in your snowboard career?
Probably gonna have to adjust things a little bit, but it feels pretty dang good actually, so we’ll have to see. I’m gonna go on a backcountry trip first, ride some pow, see how it feels. Then try to hit the streets and just see. Maybe I’ll just have to build a little bit bigger landings, take a little more time setting things up. I don’t wanna leave street stuff behind quite yet, I still have things I wanna do. But I’ll probably do more backcountry stuff.
And you have a brand with Gigi Ruf, that probably helps getting into the backcountry. How did you get involved with Slash?
We were in Europe on the Absinthe movie tour and Gigi came out for a few days. He had been talking to me a little bit about it and I had just ended things with Rome, so it was perfect timing. He told me what his plan was and it sounded awesome to me, and you can’t really say no to Gigi, so… It just went from there and now I’m riding my first pro model and just finished my second one. You might have seen some leaks on Instagram and you’ll see it at SIA. The boards are super good and Gigi’s good to work with. I just tell him what I want with the boards and he takes it and does it.
Is business as good at the meth business? Which is more lucrative?
I don’t know, Meth is pretty hot right now.
Truth is, he gets high off snowboarding. Photo: Scott Serfas
So, you’re a family man now, is the rumor about a little Johnnie Paxson on the way true?
(laughs) A Janelle Paxson, yeah. I’m married now, I’ve been married for almost a year and a half and we have a little baby girl on the way. April 26th is the due date. Pretty psyched on that.
Is she and Gigi’s kid gonna get married some day?
Yeah, we might line that up. We’ve talked about it with a few different people. Scott Keating (Nike Snowboarding Sales badass) just had a boy too, so might do that. We have some options.
Arranged marriage seems like the move. And you want her to be good at snowboarding, right?
She can do whatever she wants, but yeah I’m gonna put her on a snowboard and see if she likes it.
What if she wants to ski?
Are you sure? What if she comes home in a triple XL tall T and says, “Dad, this is how I wanna dress from now on.” How are you going to handle that?
I mean, I’m gonna try and influence her away from that as much as possible, but if she’s just enjoying the mountain the way she wants to, that’s basically all I care about.
The irony is, he used to wear tall t’s. But when you do stuff like this, whatever. Photo: Andy Wright/Nike Snowboarding.
Scotty the Body claims that you are his Vincent Chase and he is your Ari Gold. How do you feel about that?
He always says that, I’ve never even seen Entourage! But on some scale I guess, in his glorified version of our relationship, yes. Scotty’s always helped me out from the beginning, got me on Grenade back in the day, ironically, and now I’m on Dakine, he’s the team manager. Back when he was shooting photos I shot with him and we just kind stuck with each other through the last few years and it’s been good. Scotty’s a good guy.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever backflipped off of?
I backflipped off a three-story deck — backflip bomb drop, for some reason.
What goes through your head before you jump off three stories and do a backflip?
This will be cool, maybe?
Will it, though?
No, I don’t think it was that cool, but I just like to jump off of things. I used to like to do stupid things, but I’m over it. Only smart things from now on. (laughs) I gotta make this snowboarding thing last.
The camera loves him. And that background. Photo: Jared Souney
About that, when you suffer an injury like you did, do you worry about keeping sponsors? Were yours cool about it?
Luckily I have the best sponsors in the world, so they were super cool about it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of snowboarding and part of sports in general. I’ve had a ton of support from them, especially Nike, letting me use their facilities and trainer. It’s tough when you have an injury, especially one to this extent, to mentally come back from it. Just having that support and being able to just go to Nike and do the therapy. It’s hard to be at home and do your therapy, you’re just fighting depression and all that stuff, so it’s tough. Luckily I had a lot of support from all of my sponsors.
That seems like a good place to end it. Sponsors and thanks?
Slash Snowboards, Nike Snowboarding, Dakine, Anon, Mt Hood 26, Jammypack and 7-9-13. I’d like to say thanks to my sponsors and the people who like my Instagrams.