Chris Sörman’s sad days as a sore looser and a cranky sourpuss are long gone, partly because he learned to tackle defeat as a true gentleman, but also because he has for many years been seen outdoing, amongst others, his dad on a snowboard. With huge 12s up his sleeves and his mind set on a season of progression, Chris might be on the verge to finding the ultimate cure for handling defeat – don’t lose.
Portrait and words by Peter Lundström
Chris Sörman comes from a city in Sweden called Jönköping. It is a place in the south that is synonymous neither with mountains nor snow, but with a vast variety of religious activities and a band called The Cardigans. With the snowy hillocks of Sweden far away, he acknowledges his parents as a big part of his progress as a snowboarder, since the journey to the closest halfpipe (1,000km roundtrip) didn’t come without a great deal of parental support. After the usual skate-to-snowboard transition and a few years of trying to become the best snowboarder in the Sörman family, he began hucking at the infamous Swedish Cup in halfpipe at a young age: “I was usually the first guy on the slope. Since I had such a long way to travel just to practise pipe, riding as much as possible before the contest began was really my only shot at learning new tricks.” Three years later, he entered the Malung Snowboard School, which is more or less the origin of any snowboard talent coming out of Sweden in the last five years or more. Prior to being accepted to Malung, he had already won the Swedish Cup two years in a row and landed himself a spot on the Burton national team.
A few years later, around the same time as he finished filming for the classic Swedish snowboard movie Flavour, his friends Hampus Mosesson and Jacob Wilhelmsson pulled some strings to get him on the Quik team. “The time on Quik was really good, they opened a lot of doors for me. Without the help of Hampus, Jacob and Quik, I might have been working in a supermarket right now.” In 2005, Sörman went on a winning spree. A first place at the Burton European Open slopestyle was followed by a number of podium placements in an array of European events. With an extraordinary season of contest wins behind him, the step up to filming with a bigger European movie company seemed natural. The season was spent mostly down in the Alps with one of his favourite allies, Martin Sandberg, filming with the Pirate crew. But it wasn’t until late in the season and on home turf that Chris would throw down the trick about which the rumours spread like wildfire even before the celluloid frames were developed: “I was hitting the Jon Olsson kicker in Åre / Sweden, the best kicker I’ve ever dropped in on. I was doing tens, and when I finally got one, I thought what the heck, I’ll try a 12. It couldn’t have gone much better than it did.” Check out last year’s Pirate movie Lubedence for proof of the craziness, or Youtube it.
Frontside 360, Saas Fee, Switzerland – Photo by Pat Vermeulen
Although riding all day with your buddies and getting paid might seem like the perfect setup, Chris eventually came to the conclusion that being one out of four amazing Swedes (Hampus Mosesson, Jacob Wilhelmsson, Kalle Ohlson and Chris himself) on the same team might not be the best career move. ”It’s not hard to understand that you can’t be four riders on an international team from the same country, especially from a small country like Sweden.” With a banging movie part as leverage, the following months were spent looking around for a new sponsor, although he didn’t have to look far. Fitting like a hand in the glove, Chris was just as stoked as his new sponsor to be back at his roots working for Burton, this time around elevated to the Burton team, just a notch under the infamous global team. ”There’s a lot to think about in the world of snowboarding. You definitely have to be the right rider on the right team for it to go well.” Despite being more than a bit reluctant talking about the subject of agents, Chris agrees it would be good for every rookie to have one when sorting out contracts, especially if you don’t posses the gift of the gab i.e. perfect for a quiet Scandi. Also, seeing there is no union for snowboarders, having someone looking out for your best interests can’t be bad. On the topic of finding the right sponsor, Chris continues: ”The most important thing is that they are stoked on you and that they are motivated to help and push you in the right direction. That way, the sponsor will more than likely get the same in return from the rider, in terms of motivation to go the extra mile.”
5050, Sundsvall – Photo by Peter Lundström
With another year on Burton and his second year filming with the Pirates, Chris has made the decision to cut down on filming. “I started filming with the Pirates two years ago. I had an incredible time with the crew and it really helped my career a lot. This year I’m going to take my riding a step further, just concentrate on learning new tricks and taking my riding to the next level. I’m planning on shooting some stuff for the Burton movie and doing more competitions, and will just try to snowboard more. It’s actually really hard to commit fully to filming a good video part and at the same time progress as a snowboarder. There is never much time left to just ride and try out new things.” The expression ‘on it’ takes on a whole new meaning when he starts talking about his plans for the year after next, and even as far as making plans for the life after snowboarding. “The year after that I’d like to spend a lot of time in the States filming for any of the bigger productions. I know I have the capability and the motivation needed for producing a banging film part. It’s always been a dream of mine to shoot in the US for any of the top movies.”
Apart from making up time for learning new tricks, there are things that come with being a pro snowboarder that are even harder to pull off than learning double corks. “Right now, the hardest thing about snowboarding is probably being away from my girlfriend. But one should manage. If you can’t manage that you probably won’t manage staying together the rest of your life either. That choice is easy. I think it’s a good challenge. I mean, if you can handle this part in life together, you can probably handle almost anything. But it’s definitely not a normal life we lead.”
Switch Backside 540, Saas Fee, Switzerland – Photo by Pat Vermeulen
As the interview, made via MSN, was almost complete, there was a computer meltdown, causing a lot of the original material for Chris’s profile to be lost in cyberspace. Chris had during the course of the interview expressed a concern that this would turn out to be “the most serious interview ever”. In the event of this profile coming out (God forbid) too serious, we should mention Chris’ penchant for dressing up like a foxy trani. Although the possible economic gain from an undercover venture into the girls snowboard tour would be significant as well as easy with such girlish looks, Chris’s reason for putting on the fishnets and high heels has been less devious. Not by much, though, come to think of it. “The first time was in Tranås when I was sixteen and couldn’t get into the party after the big air contest. So I dressed up as a girl and held (Nitro rider) Simon Ax’s hand on the way to the door and got in without any hassle. Nobody recognised me, everybody thought I was a chick for real.” Getting hit on by guys you know is the kind of traumatic and scary experience you’ll have to live with if you are truly committed to fighting for your right to party.
A lot of times, pro snowboarders at a young age can give the impression of being completely consumed by their sport – nothing else matters. For Chris, the very distant but nevertheless pending parting from snowboarding is ever present. He has spoken of the urge to keep on progressing in fields not attached to his profession. And although it’s pretty sweet to be able to hang at the beach all summer long, he’s been thinking of using those months to dabble in and learning a new trade. “One day you’ll stand there, not being able to travel the world and whatnot. I think it’s easier to be secure in yourself if you have a plan after snowboarding. Then you can concentrate more on snowboarding right now. You can’t be a hobo-kid all your life. Sooner or later, life will catch up.”
Name: Chris Alexander Johannes Sörman
Straight out of: Jönköping / Sweden, currently residing in Gothenburg
Sponsors: Burton Boards, Burton Outwear, Burton Street wear, Dragon, Etnies, Neff, Boardstore, Frontline, Clast
Shout outs, big ups and thank yous?
Everyone at Burton, Hasi, Cyril, Steffi, Andy, Ola, Henke, Dragon, Erik, Mike. Etnies, Steffi, Boardstore, Martina, Hampus, Jacob, Kristoffer, Mom, Dad, my sister and brother, Marre, Håkan, Kalle, Tobbe, Dampe, Vicktor, Onboard, Peter, Matte, Bruno, Oskar, Neuman, All the Pirates, Maurino, Hasse and a truckload of other dudes. You know who you are!