By Silas Thurman
I’ve known James for about 4 years now, and in that time he has become one of my best friends through this roller coaster of life. When I met him at the first Hippodrome, I never thought I’d be spending so much time with the guy. We have gone on many different trips with Liquid Force and now Nike 6.0. Most recently though, our close friendship and knowingness of each other has gotten us into announcing, writing articles, and giving away trick of the year at the Wake Awards. More importantly though were neighbors now, and as long as were both in town were doing what everyone on here loves to do, and that’s wakeskate. I know him as Jimmy, Jimmy Balz, Jimmy Blaze, and the naked guy. Most of you know him as Balzer. Now you can get to know the more serious side.
Silas: On our last 6.0 trip in the Philippines, how long do you really think you were naked for waiting for the cable to get going?
James: Well lets just say if your gonna talk the talk you better walk the walk and when I was bragging to Pat Ponakos about being able to bare foot a whole lap naked, I never knew he was gonna fire that thing up right away. All things aside, I think I was probably naked on the dock for at least fifteen minuets. It gave me lots of time to stretch out and clear my mind. Oh and I made the whole lap and I did a pretty wild dock start, so I’m glad I had that stretching time
Silas: What is your favorite thing about the Philippines?
James: Man that’s a tough one too. There were so many awesome things about that place, but I think my favorite thing was winching some of the spots that we hit. You’re gonna have to wait till the new 6.0 vid comes out to see them, and I think you’re gonna be stoked.
Silas: I know a lot of pro riders dream of getting a cover and whole interview deal with one of the mags. Is this a goal of yours?
James: Well funny you should ask. I just happened to get one of those the other day (SBC.) I’m just out there doing what I can you know. And yeah, it was a goal for sure.
Silas: That’s awesome. We’ve been hanging out for a week now. I had no idea you were getting that. Ok, Boat, PWC, Winch, or Cable and why?
James: Well I have always been a boat guy, but I’m really staring to spend more time behind the ski thanks to yours and my daily riding habits. But let me tell ya what I’m loving right now: it’s the winch. I love the boat the most though, I just want to take air, man.
Silas: Best story from Lake Powell?
James: Well, I think there are a few. Having Chuck D all about our announcing was a good one, but I think beaching a boat at 3 in the morning after a treacherous airport drop. Then not being able to get it off that night and having to empty the fat sacks and use them as blankets. Only to wake up at seven to fishermen that wouldn’t help me, ‘cause I looked like a hobo. Five boats later, some one finally picked me up and I made it back to the houseboats about nine that morning. Lucky for me I have a very understanding team manager that dealt with me wrecking his boat quite well. Yeah, being stranded in the middle of Powell for a night, that’s the best story ever.
Silas: If you were to be resurrected as a girl’s wakeskate and you could be rode all day long, who would that girl be?
James: Here you go setting me up for the fall. I’m not to sure, but hopefully a girl that didn’t do a lot of tricks. I get dizzy pretty easy and I wouldn’t want to puke on her feet. Actually come to think of it, I don’t think there’s any girls who would make me overly dizzy, so whoever. Maybe Melissa Marquardt or Megan McNeil.
Silas: Upcoming travel plans for the summer and what you’re looking forward to the most?
James: Well I’m off to Parker, Arizona to shoot for the new Body Glove vid. There are a few more trips that we are doing for that. A few of us from Liquid Force are going to be hitting some cables up in Kansas and Oklahoma in May sometime, as well as where ever we end up filming for Nike. And that’s just the next few months. We’ll just have to ride it out and see, but I’m gonna be busy.
Silas:. Shameless plug coming up in — three, two, one. What shoe company do you ride for and what do you like about them most?
James: What do I like the most about Nike6.0, the best shoe company ever, you ask? Well, I would have to say the team of riders comes a very close second to the way the shoes feel on my feet. I feel like I can do anything when I’m wearing a fresh set of Nikes.
Silas: I’ve been hearing the moans of a lot of broken hearts out there. Are you not single anymore?
James: I may or may not have a new old lady that is as much in love with Indian collectibles as I am. So give me a few weeks and I think I’m gonna work up the nerve to change my facebook status..
Silas: Coolest move you landed recently?
James: Ooh, ask me that tomorrow! I got a few new ones up my sleeve and my shit is starting to get a little stretched out. They’re gonna fall right from the sleeve into the bag.
Silas: Canada is your homeland, but you reside partly in Clermont, Florida. Where do you think you will end up in the long haul?
James: Not too sure, but I know it’s gonna be up in the mountains some place. I have grown up in the mountains and the one thing that eats away at me being in Florida is the lack of hills. I figure up in Canada or maybe down in Oregon with you. We could share a duplex in a small suburb near a park were our children can play and grow strong
Silas: What drives you every day to be James and to “Just Do it”?
James: The fact that I know the opportunity to be riding this much won’t last forever and I don’t want to ever waste a chance to take air.
Silas: Would you rather bust your ass doing hard labor making 60 grand a year or wakeskate making, let’s say 30 grand, and why?
James: Well, I would have rather just have rich parents. No seriously, I love to ride but I’m also a fan of a good old day of hard work. I think I would combine the two and make 90. Work hard at whatever you do, that’s the way I look at it. If you’re doing what you love and giving it your all that’s what maters.
Silas: Since we work together on a lot of things such as articles why don’t you take this one home?
James: Thanks for the tough questions, old bud. I wouldn’t be here without ya. I would also like to thank Risto at Von Zipper, Sarah at Body Glove, Henshaw and Andy and you at 6.0 and don’t forget that old dog Aaron Grace at the tear drop (Liquid Force). My family and friends and all you dear readers that have made it this far. But most of all I would like to thank God he’s what gets me to the highs and thru the lows and does more for me then I could ever say.