With winter sports season in full swing, we checked in with Ryan McElmon, who has been a part of Team JAMBAR since its inception. In addition to being a hugely talented multi-sport athlete, Ryan radiates positivity and is truly one of the most down-to-earth, genuine people you’ll ever meet. Based in Park City, Utah, Ryan is currently in Europe training and competing. Thanks, Ryan, for taking time out of your packed schedule to answer our questions!
You’ve represented the United States in competitions around the world, starting with your first World Cup circuit at age 17. What was it like joining the highest level of competition at such a young age? How has the sport changed since you started competing?
It was honestly a dream come true. I remember jumping up and down with excitement when I received my first invite to a Slopestyle World Cup in Mammoth, Calif. Standing in the start gate next to guys I looked up to for my entire life was a full circle moment that I’ll never forget. The second part of that question is a tough one to answer without writing a novel! Long story short, the Olympics have taken a lot of the freedom out of our sport and drastically changed the competition/sponsorship structures. Our sport was originally like skateboarding and now it is slowly changing to be more like gymnastics in terms of structure and judging.
What advice do you have for bikers/skiers who look up to you and dream of turning pro? Any advice for the parents of kids who have that goal?
All that matters is purely loving what you do. If you absolutely love what you do, then you will excel to the highest level or whatever level you desire. I’ve been extremely lucky with parents that have always been willing to support me in pursuit of my passions and that is truly all a kid can ask for. Very grateful.
Does music play a role in your training or pre-race preparation? Who are some of your favorite artists and what is your go-to hype song?
Yes! I grew up watching every ski and bike movie released for the last 15 years. The key to any great action sports media is finding the perfect match between rider talent and a great soundtrack that complements the riders’ abilities. This might be a hot take, but I enjoy any music other than country music. Some of my favorite artists are Mac Miller, Joey Bada$$, Method Man, A$AP Rocky and many more. “Here We Go” by Mac Miller is definitely one of my top hype songs.
Anyone who has watched you tear down a mountain on your bike or seen you soaring through the air on the slopes would call you fearless. But there must be something you're afraid of... do tell!
Haha… thank you! This is a question people ask a lot and I’d say the unique skill that most top level action sports athletes develop is the ability to draw the line between being nervous and being afraid. We are all afraid at times but most of the time we are just nervous to try something new or jump into the unknown. If you feel afraid, you are not prepared which means you should not try because you are exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. If you have done everything you can to prepare yourself for the moment but you feel unsure of the outcome, this is just nerves and you should try! Side note, I am terrified of spiders!
What is your philosophy when it comes to nutrition? What do you typically eat on a non-race day and on days when you compete?
I am very conscious of nutrition but it is not always easy to eat well traveling to foreign places which is why I love JAMBARs so much. I always have a couple boxes with me on the road as a reliable pre-competition snack. I have an unusually fast metabolism so I am eating as much as possible on a day-to-day basis to maintain muscle health and bone structure.
In addition to being a pro biker and skier, you are an accomplished photographer and videographer. Can you talk about this passion of yours and your favorite subjects to photograph/film?
I grew up admiring magazines of my favorite sports and I believe this is what originally sparked my interest for photography. I would get completely immersed into these magazines because of the amazing imagery and always wanted to recreate that regardless of which side of the lens I was on. I don’t have any favorites in particular but I love the House of Spoils gallery. I would fill my entire house with their work if I could afford it.
Last month, you spent time at the JAMBAR booth at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. But you didn't just sign autographs and pose for pictures - you actually rolled up your sleeves and worked alongside JAMBAR founder Jenny Maxwell! What was that experience like for you?
I absolutely LOVED this! Since the start of my skiing/biking journey, I have always made a point to give back to the brands that give so much to our sports. It was an honor to meet Jenny and learn more about her experience in the industry over all the years. I am looking forward to the next opportunity when I get to spend more time with the team.
JAMBAR Sales Manager Adam Smith, Ryan and Jenny at OR 2023