This article was written by KJHK Sports Staff member Madison Osberger-Low. Originally from Jan. 24, this article was edited for timeliness.
After more than 20 years of announcing the X Games, Brad Jay brings a gold medal performance to every competition he calls.
“I’m a big kid,” Jay said on Saturday in between events at Buttermilk Mountain. “ I love competition and I love being part of it. I never rest on – ‘OK, I’m good at what I do.’”
A veteran of more than 15 Winter X Games and five Olympics, Jay said he does “a lot of amazing events” including Los Angeles Dodgers and Clippers games, but “the X Games is always near and dear to my because it was the beginning of my career.”
Starting as a radio broadcaster in California, he first landed an X Games gig in 1999. “That was the biggest treat for me,” Jay said.
“I’ve always been an action sports guy. I competed in amateur skateboarding. I competed in surfing when I was younger and I always loved it.”
Once he took the leap, Jay never went back. In addition to winter action sports, Jay also announces surfing. This summer, he’ll be part of the team working on the Tokyo Olympics where he’ll call skateboarding and BMX. He’s announced at more than 20 summer X Games as well as the Pan American Games. Sometimes he will announce live television too.
“For me, once I know I’m on, and you go, ‘3,2,1, you’re on’ I just ramp up,” Jay said.
On the third day of X Games Aspen 2020, Jay remained as cool under pressure as snowboarder Max Parrot did in holding off Mark McMorris for the big air win. In a small space filled with TV broadcasters, producers and announcers, Jay was unbothered by the constant activity. Having three children has made him used to outside distractions.
“People can be talking and screaming in the background and I can still be doing my job,” Jay said.
He thinks the new jam session format used this year at X Gamesmakes for a better event for viewers and competitors. “It’s a cool format. It gives riders more of a chance to get a good run in,” he said.
But it may have made the announcer’s job more difficult because there’s less time between runs.
Jay does his homework before calling each event.
“Now that the tricks are getting so much harder, getting different variations, you almost don’t have time to call every trick because there’s so many working parts to it,” he said. Jay utilizes social media platforms like Instagram to stay up-to-date on new tricks that each athlete is practicing or bringing to the competition.
“I watch a lot of YouTube. If I’m not invited to announce a contest then I’ll watch replays of it, what went down. That way I can talk about it,” he said.
Jay was working X Games Aspen 2013 when professional snowmobile racer Caleb Moore died from injuries suffered in a fatal crash. This was the first fatal accident in X Games history.
“It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever had to be part of,” he said. “Thoughts and prayers go out to his family.” Jay said he went on to work with Moore’s brother Colton on another tour.
“It’s something you never want to be part of but the progression of what tricks people are going nowadays on motorcycles, snowmobiles, snowboards, everything. It’s unfortunate but that’s part of the risk that’s attached to it. But these people get to love what they do and they do it on a daily basis.” Still, he added, “You never want to see it, that’s for sure.”
His job involves a lot of travel – he was in Switzerland last week for the Youth Olympic Games and like local skier Torin Yater-Wallace, arrived hours before the start of the first X Games contest. It’s one of the many benefits of his job.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the best in the world when it comes to action sports,” Jay said. “It tickles me that (athletes) know who I am. He’s known Shaun White since the “Flying Tomato” was 10 years old and has seen White “grow up and win gold medals.”
While the time clock continues to tick and the caliber of athletics gets bigger and better, Jay keeps the energy high in all elevations.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in this gig. The one constant is, I still get the jobs and I still get it done,” he said.