Niki Korpela has been blowing our minds ever since we saw him as a 15 year-old scamp busting the kind of poked front 5s Ingemar would be proud of and then dropping back 9s with the same effortless Finnish steeze. This kid from Espoo’s cameo part in last seasons Forum’s Forever release showcased his balls out approach to riding and got people talking, and he followed it up last season by filming for the eagerly anticipated Euro Gap 3. With some of the biggest name involved, Tom Kingsnorth caught up with Niki to see how it went down.
Tom Kingsnorth: Finland has some of the best riders in the world and has done for a while. How hard is it for riders to break through from there? Is it easy because there are loads of scouts or hard because of all the talent? Were you in the right place at the right time or do you offer something someone who didn’t make it doesn’t have?
Niki Korpela: Yeah we have loads of really good riders for sure. Like I said I was super lucky to meet those people who have helped me to break through! So you could definitely say I was “in the right place at the right time,” but I’ve also worked really hard to meet all the people and do the things I love!
TK: Do the kids you originally rode with when you were growing up get stoked for you, or were they super jealous?
Niki: Those guys who I rode with when I started are some of my best friends now, so I don’t think they are jealous or anything.
TK: What is your favourite terrain to ride? Kickers, rails, powder?
Niki: Just good parks with good kickers and rails! I never had the chance to go properly BC.
TK: Is that an area that you want to get into?
Niki: For sure. I want to ride everything but pipe. Pipe sucks and I suck riding it haha.
TK: Do you have any rider you look up to and do they have tricks you wish you cold throw down like them?
Niki: So many good riders out there, it’s hard to name only one! But I was recently riding with Mark McMorris and Seb Toots in NZ. Those guys can do like 9 different doubles. So I guess to learn more of that stuff would be cool.
TK: How many do you have down and are they fun to do or just something you have to learn as part of your job?
Niki: I didn’t do a single one last season as we didn’t have any good kicker days! But, yeah, I think once you stomp a double it feels amazing. But nope, I can’t say they are fun. You just need to have them to get proper video parts or good contest results.
TK: When someone lands a new trick like that, are you stoked or kind of stressed because you need to step up and throw it down?
Niki: More stoked than stressed for sure. But let’s say that if there is going to be triples and shit in the future, then I’m more stressed…
TK: How far off are you from doing Torstein’s triple?
Niki: Haha, just need one good powder day I’m telling you! Kidding, I have no idea.
TK: So your injury was pretty bad I heard, what exactly happened and how long were you out for?
Niki: I just got to the States and started filming with Forum. We were hitting this one hip and after few straight airs I thought I could try backside alleyoop 3, I went for it and came straight to the deck and then bounced over the landing to flat. I went to see the doctor later that evening who took x-rays of my back! He said it’s broken or some shit so I had to fly back to Finland. Did the same back home and the doc said my back is fine. WTF.
TK: Do you spend most of your time in the US now?
Niki: It depends, last year when I filmed for Euro Gap I only went to the States at the end of the season.
TK: The Euro Gap film is set to be a banger, how did you get involved in the project?
Niki. We were at this Finnish Snowboarding award thingy called Slammer Gala. That’s where I met Jaakko Itäaho the first time! I had heard some rumours that they were maybe going to make this Euro Gap movie the next season, so I talked with him about it there and few days later he sent me a text message asking if I could come with all the other guys in the movie and sit down to have a chat how we could make it happen. I know a few people put in a good word to Jaakko for me, so I bet that helped me to get in!
TK: How was it filming with those guys, were you nervous because they are such high profile riders or were you confident you could hold you own?
Niki: I already knew all the guys when I got in. but being able to film with that kind of a crew was crazy for me, because those are the dudes I was (and still am) looking up to when I started snowboarding! But, yeah, I was definitely the rookie in that crew! But in a way working with those guys pushed me to do better things!
TK: How were Forum with you filming for them? Were they happy about your plans or did they want you to film for Fuck It instead?
Niki: For sure it wasn’t the best year for me with Forum as I filmed pretty much the whole season with Euro Gap. But you know when there are all those riders like Eero [Ettala], Heikki [Sorsa] etc. plus some of the best filmers and you get a chance to film with them, you kind of have to choose. For me it was a huge honour to be part of that crew! But, yeah, at the same time I’m really bummed that I didn’t get to film with Forum properly!
TK: Were you a big fan of Forum in the old Forum 8 days? Does it still feel like an independent company or is it fairly obvious that Burton is running the show over there?
Niki: Yeah I was. That was the shit back in the day! The Forum crew is tight! It still has an independent feel to it and the team is amazing.
TK: Do you think it’s harder for Europeans to break into international teams? Andreas [Wiig] got straight in but the rest on the Euros are on the Am or Rookie teams. Some US guys go straight onto the main team; why do you think this is?
Niki: That’s true. It’s kind of weird! First you have to be well-known in Europe to get a chance to show what’s up in the US. But for the guys who live in the States, they only have to show what’s up once, you know? They don’t have to go through Europe first. There are so many US guys who are not known in Europe, only in the US, and that’s why they make it straight to the international teams.
TK: Forgetting that snowboarding is fun for a moment, how is it as a job? Is it a dream come true or less amazing than you expected growing up?
Niki: Well, for me it’s definitely living the dream. I get to travel and visit some of the most amazing places in the world, meet loads of cool people and, most of all, do the thing I love for a living! Of course there are some shitty moments too, but I bet every job has them.
TK: What are the shitty moments?
Niki: Just some little things. Like carrying your big-ass board bag, sitting hours in planes, stressing if you get a contract for next season or not, hoping you won’t get hurt etc.
TK: If you weren’t riding what job would you be doing instead?
Niki: These are hard questions, I never thought about what I’d be doing instead! Probably study. Which would suck big time, hehe!
TK: What would you study?
Niki: Maybe continue my business & marketing studies….
TK: What do your parents think of what you are doing now? Are they stoked or pushing you to get a real job?
Niki: This is a real job. But, yeah, they are really supportive! At first when this all started they where kind of making sure this is what I want to do as I dropped my studies, I don’t get it why some people think this is not a job? Because it’s the job I love to do and its fun? A job should be boring and something you don’t like? Something that everyone else does? It’s strange; loads of people don’t get it and are like ‘what are you thinking?!’ I really don’t have any big plans yet. I hope I can do snowboarding for a living at least for the next 10 years or so!
TK: What do you miss from Finland the most when you are away?
Niki: Friends and family. And Grand Casino Helsinki, haha.
TK: Which of the countries that you’ve been to produce the best-looking females?
Niki: Norway and Sweden fo sho! Babes in Sweden are hard to get though…
TK: Does being a sponsored snowboarder help your chances of getting laid?
Niki: I hope not! I don’t have any love for those pro ho’s
TK: Any last words?
Niki: Last words would be: stay tuned for Euro Gap 3. Premiere is on 6th November in Helsinki!