Jamie Behan is, as one of his coaches calls him, “a man of few words who speaks with his actions.” And in the world of snowboard racing, Behan has used his actions to become a national and an international champion.
18-year-old Behan, a Leaside native who attended Northlea and Leaside High School, grew up skiing at Beaver Valley along with his brothers Cameron and Andrew, and his parents Juliet and Don. At nine years old, Jamie picked up snowboarding and has since raced his way to great success.
In March of this year, Behan placed first in the National Junior Championships in Giant Parallel Slalom, and in April, finished third in Parallel Slalom at the World Junior Championships in Slovenia.
Jamie is an incredibly hard worker but has also benefited from the support not just of his family, but also of a team of extraordinarily talented coaches along his journey, including his coach Cam Farrell at Beaver Valley, his summer BioSteel trainer, Mike Carneiro, and coach Thedo Remmelink.
After graduating from Leaside High in June, 2018, Behan decided to take a gap year to pursue his snowboarding career. As he explains, “my parents say there’s no rush to get old.” In pursuit of his racing goals, Behan has spent 135 days on snow in the last year, either in training or in competition.
The bulk of his training this past year has taken place at Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in Colorado under the tutelage of former Olympian Remmelink. Here Behan has honed his skills in speed and momentum.
Snowboard racing is incredibly fast and demanding. It takes guts, mental focus, practice, and athleticism. As his coach Cam Farrell points out, everyone who qualifies for the international championships has all of these qualities. So, what sets Behan apart? “What pushes Jamie that little bit extra is his ability to focus, and make the right decisions instinctively in the moment. When he is at his best, you can see from the look in his eyes he is focused: he knows what has to be done, has a plan, is prepared, and ready. He does not need a pep talk to be pumped up, he’s got it taken care of. On the course he makes the right decisions: when to push it, take chances, ride a straighter line with less margin for error; and, when to ride under control, aiming for consistency.”
What excites Behan’s coaches the most is that the athlete is still developing and refining his technique. He still, in other words, has what it takes to maintain, and improve upon, his competitive level on the world stage.
As for Behan himself, he is staunchly focused on his training and his future. But his approach is quite simple: “My goal in racing is to have fun. If you have fun, you do well. If you do well, you have fun. Often racers come in with overcomplicated plans and overthink a race.”
As a bonus, he’s become not just a world champion, but also a world traveller, having snowboarded in nine countries including Chile, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand.
For Behan there are no superstitions or rituals. There’s no looking to become “Instafamous” or the next (snowboarding) Kardashian. There is simply work and focus. And in a world consumed with “likes” and “retweets,” Behan is a unique, humble, and extremely successful breath of fresh air.