Former NCAA pole vault champion Jordan Scott, the man best known for his outrageous multi-coloured hair, chats to SPIKES about his pride and joy.
Oscar-winning actor Danny Kaye once said that “life is blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.” In that case, American vaulter Jordan Scott has a canvas for a head.
It is a testament to Scott’s commitment that a picture gallery on his website is devoted entirely to his hair, where he showcases a spectacular range of colours and styles: from the stars and stripes to a M&M homage.
The genesis of his hair experiment can be traced back to a “horrible” indoor campaign in 2010.
“I started becoming really technical, I was treating it more like a business. It just wasn’t fun anymore. My coach said, ‘we have to start having fun again, that’s why we started pole vaulting.’
“We started doing some sessions without bars and for the first outdoor meet I cut my hair into a mohawk, and jumped pretty well. I then went one step further for the next meet and dyed my hair into a red checkerboard pattern. I wanted something that would stand out. I jumped at the Texas Relays and PR’d with 5.71m. I had a tonne of fun and I realised I couldn’t stop there.”
He hasn’t. He changes his hairdo for each competition, sometimes asking his twitter followers to come up with ideas. Nothing is out of bounds, with the exception of suggestive imagery or rude words, and the hair design process is relatively straightforward.
“It takes about 45 minutes to do the sharpie outline. I then paint the hair dye within the lines. I usually take a couple of hours in total, and I often get my fiancée [Julia Cummings, a 4.02m pole vaulter] to help out.”
Initially his fellow competitors gave him “some funny looks” and thought the hair designs were a purely done as an attention-seeking stunt.
Yet Scott insists the pre-event ritual has had a positive impact on his vaulting.
“It helps get me focused and prepare for a competition,” he says. “It is also a lot of fun and it gets the fans into the event. I don’t know whether it is made up in my head, but I think I get a lot more crowd support.
“In Boston a few weeks back there were two groups of high school kids who loved it. They wanted my picture taken with them. And at the Texas Relays in 2010, when my hair was the checkers board, a small kid asked if he could play checkers on my head.”
Here are five of the best hairdos, as picked by Jordan Scott…
“This was a bit of a random one. I just mixed a bunch of colours together, some pinks and reds. Although personally I didn’t think too much of it, a lot of people seemed to like it.”
Dice and playing cards
“I got this idea from my mum. My parents were caught off guard when I first started dying my hair but over time they grew to understand it. I was pole vaulting in Reno, Nevada, where gambling is legal. I put dice on one side of my head and playing cards on the other.”
Hearts of love
“This was dedicated to my fiancée [Julia Cummings]. It was either on around Valentine’s Day, and I was competing at a meet in Arkansas.”
“Another idea I dreamed up just to see what it would look like. It turned out pretty crazy.”
“Yes! I was competing on Independence Day in the US. I think I got more support that day. Everyone thought it was awesome.”