Nathan Johnstone – An Olympic Medal Hope

November 11th, 2009

The Little White Shark with a Tomato on the Menu


Words: Russell Holt ::
Photography: Tyler Heffernan

Australia’s Nathan Johnstone has his eye firmly on the podium at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The Halfpipe Snowboarder from Mona Vale NSW finished 2nd on the World Cup Tour in 2009 making him a serious contender for big name riders like “the flying tomato” – Shaun White of the USA who is the reigning Olympic champion.

Nathan at only 19 years of age is recognised as the best chance for Australia’s first male snowboard medal at a Winter Olympics. His strong performances during 2009 and his methodical build up to the games have seen his progression of technical tricks reach a world-class standard never seen before by an Australian or New Zealand halfpipe snowboarder.

As the competition for ‘next-level’ technical tricks has risen sharply on the lead up to the Games, Nathan has kept up with the White’s by learning tricks like “Double Corks”, which will surely become the must-have-trick to make the 2010 Olympic Halfpipe final.

The Olympic birth for Nate will signify his arrival on the international snowboard scene, the beginning but also the end of road that started way back when he was just 11 years old at Perisher resort in NSW. It seems certain that the years of hard work, dedication and countless hours travelling by Nate, his parents and his coaches will finally be paying off.

Nate going huge with a backside Japan air. Mammoth Spring Pipe 09.

Watch The Video Of Nate competing at the 2009 NZ Open.

Q & A

MW: How long have you dreamt about competing in the Olympic Games?
I think since the last Olympics went by. It looked like such a massive event and an awesome experience so I think that got me pretty stoked to try work towards the Vancouver Games.

MW: How has your preparation for the 2010 games been going?
Yeah pretty good just been enjoying my time at home before I head overseas for the comp circuit. I’ve been going to the gym everyday and surfing heaps, just trying to stay as fit as possible.

MW: What are the major competitors you’ll be aiming to beat?
There are plenty of good riders that are in for a chance at a medal but I guess some of the bigger named riders are Shaun White, Danny Davis, Kevin Pierce, Ryoh Aono, Louie Vito, Luke Mitrani – they are just some of the many riders.

MW: How important are the build-up World Cup events before the Games for your preparation for the big event?
Definitely important because majority of the riders will be competing at the World Cups and the Grand Prix events through out the US. They will all be trying to qualify for their spot on their national teams. It’s important to get some practice at these events landing my run first time, every time with the pressure from everything else around you.

Nate’s has a mean arsenal of tricks including this frontside 900 cross-bone Indy. Mammoth Spring Pipe 09.

MW: Who do you take inspiration from or look up to in your sport?
Riders like Shaun White, Luke Mitrani, Danny Davis who are constantly progressing the sport by learning these new tricks such as double’s (cork’s) I think is pretty inspirational and really makes you want to get out there and push yourself that little bit harder than you thought you could.

MW: You Live in Mona Vale NSw on the beach did you surf before you got into snowboarding?
Yeah I surfed before I started snowboarding my dad got me into it at a young age. He used to push me onto waves out the basin at Mona Vale.

MW: Is sustaining an injury prior to a big snowboard event ever a concern when you’re surfing?
Na not at all, it actually never cross’s my mind when I’m out in the water surfing.

MW: Do you find the transition from surfing to snowboarding or vice versa an issue?
Not too much. If I have been snowboarding for a while overseas and come back and jump onto the surfboard I do find it a little funny for the first surf just because you position yourself different on a surfboard compared to a snowboard. Your center of gravity is set back more on a surfboard. So the first few waves I tend to stand up and bog a rail!

MW: Are surfing magazines better than snowboarding magazines or vice versa?
I enjoy reading surf mags a little more just because I don’t see them as often. And it’s good to catch up and see what’s been happening in the surfing world while I’ve been away.

Huge Frontside air. Mammoth Spring Pipe 09.

MW: Is it frustrating being a snowboarder based in Mona Vale? I mean the beach is just down the road, but there’s only snow 3-months of the year in Australia, and its 5 or 6 hours down the road. How do you stay motivated?
It can be hard sometimes especially when you get a phone call from your mates telling you that the waves have been pumping all weekend, but it’s something that you just got to do. Once I get down there I end up just having way more fun than what I would of if I stayed home.

MW: What’s the bigger buzz getting barreled or busting a big air snowboarding?
I don’t know. I still get a big thrill out of hitting big jumps, but getting barreled is just one of those feelings that you never forget.

Personal Stats

Nickname: Nate
Date of Birth: 9-2-1990
Place of Birth: Mona Vale
Birth Country: Australia
Residence Place: Mona Vale
Height: 5’7
Weight: 66kg
Education: School Certificate
List your other favourite interests: Surfing, skating , food and travelling.
Club/resort: Perisher, NSW
Institute/Academy: Olympic Winter Institute of Australia
Years On National Team: 2
Career Highlights: 2nd overall in the FIS World Cup 08-09 season
Personal Sponsors: Rip Curl , Rossignol
Website / Blog:

A photo from the halfpipe wall with Nate spinning an inverted frontside 720 over the photographer gives an interesting perspective to half-pipe riding. Mammoth Spring Pipe 09.