You spent some time shredding 6000 metres up in the Himalayas a while ago. What brought that on?
Rip Curl wanted to do something a little unusual. They wanted to make a trip different from the typical lake Tahoe or middle Europe thing. Without really knowing what to expect I went with Swiss rider Darius Heristchian. We had to spend time acclimatising to the altitude. So the first week and a half we spent trekking in the mountains. We walked between six and eight hours a day. Each night we got to new villages deeper in the mountains. The people we met where really kind and helpful, living hand to mouth. It was a really cool experience being there, watching and learning about the culture and meeting different kinds of people.
After almost two weeks of acclimatising we finally got to the place we were going to snowboard. Even though we had endless opportunities in the mountains and it looked like we could go shredding at every face that looked nice, we had to be really careful. There were huge avalanches going off everywhere, and the snow was unstable and wind-packed. What looked perfect turned out to be so much more difficult than what we expected. We had a hard time finding good stuff to ride, and the helicopter needed nearly perfect conditions to even fly at that altitude. It was really hard to get stuff done. In the end we found some nice cliffs and some other nice things to ride.
Is the high-altitude freeriding type of snowboarding something you are going to keep on pursuing?
No, not really. It was a really good experience to go there, but riding up in that altitude takes so much preparation and you have to be really lucky with the conditions to get things done!
You have had more than your fair share of injuries throughout the years. What would be your best advice to a rookie battling it out with his first injury?
I think the most important thing is to just take your time and be patient. Even if it feels good and you feel you’re ready, it’s better to take a few more weeks before you start pushing it again. If you go out to early, you might end up hurting it again.
What’s it like becoming a pro out of Norway now compared to when you first got started?
I think it’s a lot harder for the kids in Scandinavia nowadays. These days you need to stand out so much to get any recognition at all.
Do you feel anything is missing from the Norwegian snowboard scene?
There hasn’t been a really good halfpipe rider for years now. Guess that has to do with the amount of halfpipes in Norway, but the trend among the rookies is towards park riding and backcountry filming and photos. Not so many focus on halfpipe and these days you need to practise a whole lot in the pipe to be good.
Who do you reckon will be the next big rider coming out of Norway?
We had Torstein Horgmo blowing up real big in previous years. And there are so many good kids coming from NTG (the snowboard school/gymnasium) it’s hard to say who’s going to blow up next. Kids I’ve never even heard of are doing 10s in every direction nowadays. I watched the Norwegian championship last winter and I think Gjermund Braaten is a kid to watch out for now!
Rumour has it that you are studying finance/economics and driving around in a Porsche these days. What made you go back to school and choose finance?
I started studying several years ago. Just felt like I had to do something useful in the summer and autumn, when nothing was happening in the snowboard scene anyway. So I study business economics part time in the autumn. That means I take the whole winter off, so I can go snowboarding. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Porsche, though.
After school and snowboarding, you reckon you’ll stay in the snowboard biz or just become a Wall Street brat?
At least not a Wall Street brat, that’s for sure! I’m not the briefcase-and-suit kind of guy, but I’m really into finance and economics, property etc, so something related to that, I guess! Don’t know if I’ll stay in the snowboard biz for a while after I quit. I guess it would be hard to give up all the travelling and fun around snowboarding and start working 9 to 5 behind a desk each day!
Apart from riding, what part of the snowboard-pro lifestyle do you find the most appealing?
I really like to travel to new places, see new cultures and explore new countries! This year we went to Abkhazia, Georgia. We were the first to ever snowboard in Abkhazia, and we had these old MI-8 war helicopters to take us around! That was a really good trip and a memory for life, especially now after the conflict that has been going on between Russia and Georgia.
Since this is our Photo Annual, which has been your favourite shot over the years?
It’s hard to say one – no clear favourite. But Ingemar Backman’s backside air at Riksgransen stands out! It’s more than 10 years ago, but that photo could still make the cover of any magazine!
Have you ever contemplated changing career to snowboard photographer?
No, haven’t really thought about that! First of all I’m not the most talented guy when it comes to taking pictures, and I would hate to have to build jumps and watch other people jump them.
You shot a bit with the Storbis crew a few years back. What would you say was the most important experience you learned from being on that sort of project?
That was when I had the most fun. We were a bunch of good friends just on the road having fun snowboarding. We did a lot of the filming ourselves, so I learned a lot about being behind the camera, and also a lot about video editing and stuff like that!
Are you still a dedicated follower of Top Model, and why would you watch crap like that?
Don’t know where you’ve got that from, ha ha! But I get kind of hooked on TV shows like that: ‘Norwegian Idol’, ‘So you think you can dance’ etc.
Text: Danny Burrows Photo: Matt Georges