Interview: TC Portrait: Matt Georges
Voted as Onboard’s Queen of Style back in Onboard’s 10th Anniversary issue, there is no doubt that Kjersti Ostergaard Buaas is one of the girls pushing women’s riding to new heights. Her bronze medal pipe run at the Olympics was beefcake, she’s well known for having one of the best air to fakies in the business and, more recently, she’s been focussing on slopestyle to which she’s also applied the silky Buaas steeze. Check the front 7 in her winning US Open run. Nothing short of a banger. Kjersti finished the season as the highest placed Euro-spender on the women’s TTR tour, so we hooked up with her to talk about contests, competing and women’s riding amongst other things.
Onboard: Hello, Kjersti. The last month or so have been pretty successful for you contest wise. First up, you won the US Open. How did that make you feel?
Kjersti Buaas: I had never expected to win there, so I was really surprised and off course very, very, very happy! It was my ever first international slopestyle win, and the only one [laughs].
OB: I thought it was something like that. You must have been double-stoked. And it was only shortly before that you'd dislocated your shoulder, right?
KB: Well, my shoulder popped out at the X-Games, but it didn’t take to long before it was all good again. I didn’t think about that at all.
OB: That's cool. But what didn't look so cool was the conditions at the Open. Was it as gnarly and bulletproof and windy as it looked?
KB: Yeah, it was pretty icy and very windy, so you had to use the good old "one finger in the air to check the wind" before you dropped, [laughs]! The jumps were pretty good though, just the weather that kind of sucked!
OB: But, despite the weather you, obviously, won. And won even though you only had one run which included one of the nicest fs7s in the contest – regardless of gender. When you had to pull out [Kjersti drifted off to the side of a kicker while spinning on her second run and landed on some gnarly death cookies] were you stressing because the first run was a banger but you'd not be able to do anything about it if someone scored higher, or was it more easy style, no stress, whatever type thing?
KB: I was just happy that I survived that nasty slam in to the ice chunks, because that could have been way worse than it was! I went inside the riders’ tent and iced my arm and my lip and I watched the rest of the runs on the TV there, but I was never thinking I was going to win, and when all the runs were done and everyone in the lounge went like "yeaaaaaahhhh, you won" I was thinking that I had hit my head and that I was dreaming.
OB: That must have been a great feeling. Not the gnarly ice chunk slam, the seeing you'd won thing…
KB: Yeah, it was the best feeling ever.
OB: Would it be fair to say you're a pretty seasoned competitor though?
KB: Yeah, I have been riding contest forever, and it feels like I am finally getting some control over things.
OB: Cool, that kinda leads me to my next question... Do you still get the jitters before dropping in at contests and if so how do you deal with them? What kind of mindset do you get in when waiting at the top before you get the call to go?
KB: I get pretty nervous at contests, and I think I ride better when I don’t expect to do good at all, like when I kind of give up and don’t give a f..... But being a little nervous is always good though. It makes everything more exiting.
OB: Yeah, there's a quote like that from some sports person, but I can’t remember it now. Damn.
KB: At the US Open I was actually going to pull out of the contest, because I didn’t get time to try some of the jumps before we started, and I was thinking that it really sucked and the wind was pretty scary, but then I talked to Stine [Kjersti’s Roxy team manager] and we decided that I should just do it anyways and maybe just do the smaller jumps in the qualifiers, and maybe make it in.
OB: No way!
KB: I even told the guy at the start that I was pulling out.
OB: Well, I think you did a little better than just 'make it in'…
KB: I just made it in from qualifiers as the last person to qualify, and then I just went for it [laughs].
OB: Bet you’re pretty stoked you did it now.
KB: Yeah, really stoked. Maybe it took the pressure off me.
OB: Yeah. So from there you went onto the Chicken Jam. I was wondering how the vibe differs between something with guys and girls riding together, like at the US Open, to an all-girl set up?
KB: I think it’s fun either way. I like to ride contests with both guys and girls, it kind of pushes the level, but the Chicken Jam where there is only girls riding, the vibe is really good. The course also seems work better for us when it’s a girls-only contest, because it’s kind of built specifically for the girls
OB: So how did the Chicken Jam work out for you?
KB: I got 3rd in pipe, so that was fun, and in slopestyle I screwed up on the last jump and fell, so I got 9th. Ouch.
OB: I seem to remember you used to ride quite a bit of pipe - well, the bronze at the Olympics means you can ride it rather well, I’d say! - but has your focus changed more to slopestyle and kickers of late?
KB: I just think its fun to ride both, I never really competed in slopestyle before this year, and I really like it a lot. It’s a bit different to pipe, and I also think that you can use things you learn in the pipe on jumps and vice versa. It just makes everything more fun. Riding just pipe can get really boring [laughs].
OB: Ok, back to the Chicken Jam. It was the last stop on the women's TTR tour, and after your win at US Open you had jumped up the rankings and even had an outside shot at winning the whole thing. Did that affect you at all?
KB: Yeah, actually it did affect me. I was not even thinking about it and then everybody started saying that I had a chance of winning it and I kind of freaked out. I even saw dollar bill signs when I rode, and that was scary [laughs]! I just had a goal on making it into top 5 after the US Open. I think everybody was a bit stressed out because of the TTR standings thing. It was fun to think about though...
OB: Wow. Yeah, the stakes are pretty high these days.
KB: Yeah, it’s crazy how much money you actually can win if you do really good.
OB: I guess the difference between 4th and 5th is still a good lump of cash.
KB: Yeah, I am stoked.
OB: I suppose you have to get all Zen and Mr Myagi style and forget about it and concentrate on just riding.
KB: I guess so, that’s what really matters anyways.
OB: For sure. How do you see women's riding progressing in general? Wow, that's a pretty big one actually, heaps to talk about there. But the last few Opens I’ve been, to the riding really seems to have stepped up.
KB: [Laughs] Yeah, I think the women’s riding is insane now, everyone is so good, and they have lots of style as well. It’s really cool to be a part of that. The pipe at the X-Games was crazy, so good riding. Did you see the finals?
OB: No, sadly I didn’t.
KB: It was awesome.
OB: I was just going to say that the likes of Kelly, Torah, Gretchen, Teter, yourself and others are riding real smooth, real tech right now.
KB: I need to learn some new tricks though, they are freaking crazy!
OB: I mean Torah does the techest shit you don’t see the guys doing. I remember Antti Autti giving her mad props on that.
KB: Yeah, it’s insane. I am going to learn some new tricks this summer, I really need to keep up with these girls.
OB: What you got in mind?
KB: Cab 720 and try to get the McTwist back.
KB: And maybe some backside spins. I really suck at that.
OB: Me, I’ll stick to trying to learn handplants but hurting my fingers in the process...
KB: I want to learn them too.
OB: So, you ended up 4th in the TTR, which you must have been stoked on. I would have thought you'd have taken bit of time off to chill, but no. You went to Norwegian champs and won there too! Bit of a podium roll you were on there Kjersti!
KB: Yeah, I kind of had to go, but it was a lot of fun riding there with all the Norwegians and my Mom was there too and she is always really stoked to watch [laughs]!
OB: Sick. I just got back from the British champs, which is kinda 'see all your friends, party, and, oh, maybe ride the contest' for a lot of people. Is it the same at the Norwegian ones?
KB: Yeah, it’s kind of like that, but we didn’t get to party a lot this time, because the slopestyle was on Sunday morning. That sucked.
OB: Ah well. The standard of riding there must still be pretty high, no?
KB: Yeah, I always get impressed by the riding when I go there, and this time there were 25 girls in the halfpipe and 40 in the slopestyle, and I don’t think there has ever been that many before, so that’s cool! The guys are just insane, the guy (Kim Rune Hansen) who won the big air contest did a switch bs 1260!!!
OB: By the beard of Zeus! That’s nuts!
KB: [Laughs] Yeah, they are so good.
OB: With all the competing did you manage to get any filming or shooting done this winter?
KB: Well, I did get to film a little bit and I am actually going back to US next week to get some more filming done, I still need a lot of shots to be able to get into a movie, so hopefully I will get some good ones then!
OB: Who's that with?
KB: Roxy and Runway films. I think the give each other footage.
OB: Aha. Is that something you want to do more of in the future - filming stuff - or are you happy doing more contests?
KB: I think I want to do both, but I like to compete so I guess I will compete a lot as well. It’s hard to do both.
OB: I bet. The winter seems so short these days. Like Air&Style… BANG… damn, it's April already.
KB: Yeah, I know. It’s so fast. But it’s going to be nice with some summer holidays soon. Can’t wait to go to the beach.
OB: OK, to round things off… you were voted in Onboard 2004 as the 'contemporary queen of style'. Which girls’ riding really stokes you out right now?
KB: I think there are a lot of girls that have really good style, and I think it also comes down to how you make your riding stand out and reflect your personality, if you know what I mean. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I like it when people have a style that is really their own, and sometimes that shows through really strongly. That’s what makes a style look good, for me.
OB: Very well said. Well, on that note thanks for your time, Kjersti, hope the filming goes good for you and enjoy your summer!