Onboard caught up with the Austrian ripper to pick his brains and to get the lowdown on his new flick, dropping this autumn.
We were sat in our office, bummed out as it seems it just will not stop raining here, so we thought: "We need to get hyped on something. Who's riding stokes us out?" The answer, Gigi. We called him up for the skinny on what he's been up to, his approach to the backcountry, family, and his upcoming Volcom movie, 9191. Damn, the thought of a Gigi flick just got us a semi...
How is it going, Gigi? Is the season over now?
No, not yet. I have two small ankle injuries currently. But I guess that’s what happens if you jump through the air like me.
Where did that happen?
It happened during my last trip: The “Grease Bus Tour" in Tahoe, a Nike thing.
What else is still on your schedule now that it is already mid May?
We are still looking where there’s some snow left.
I guess that means traveling quite a bit again, no?
Yeah, we’ll have to look way up North. I have contacted a colleague of yours and Björn Lindgren. He told me there was still a lot of snow in front of his camper in Riksgränsen. It sounds promising and it is always good to have a local around who knows the area and can give you some guidance.
What do you have to get done up North then?
I’ve still got stuff to do for the Volcom video. The season was rather short as we could not be productive any time before February. Before that the snow had never been where we were. But you're right: The end of the season is coming soon. It helps that the sun is not that strong up North...
That would have been my next question: What exactly is the deal with the Volcom video? It’s a Gigi movie, isn’t it? Can you talk about it?
For sure... we already have a teaser that has been screened on Fuel TV in the US. When and where the movie will be released I don’t really know... I am always busy riding.
The movie is called “9191" and it is about my snowboarding and that of my friends, who I have met during the season. I was continually on the road shredding.
Are you happy with your filming results so far? Can we expect yet another banger part from your side?
Not just a part, a whole movie! [laughs] I had many great experiences and it was a dream come true so to speak. I could focus all my attention on my own film project.
Next question: Don’t you feel quite some pressure to fill an entire movie with your riding?
For sure I want to give my best. However, as proved by my ankle injuries you can’t really force anything. I just enjoy my opportunity, and to be honest I don’t even know what’s already in the can. I can only hope that in the final product people will be able to see that, for me, it is all about adventures and experiences. Regarding pressure I would say that it is the highest now as the season comes to a close. One season isn’t really that long – you have to stay fit and motivated. This works best when you are enjoying it. Anyhow, up until a month ago I couldn’t believe what’s going on!
Just the other day Christophe Schmidt – who went filming with you in AK a couple of years ago – told me that your approach to backcountry riding is out of this world. How do you do that? And how do you manage to push yourself further every year?
This might sound like a cliché, but for me it is ‘Just follow your nose. Whatever comes your way.’ I think life is a puzzle that wants solving. We move forward through experience. I think you should never be afraid, or you will get annoyed in the long run.
As long as it works for you. How has your approach to risks and dangers changed now that you are a father.
Unfortunately my daily life is not really structured. I miss my wife’s cooking when I’m on the road. Regarding my son I have a good conscience knowing that he is healthy and will always greet me with a laugh. But I am still making my experiences in this aspect of life. But to return to your question before: My snowboarding is just what it is... currently more of a task but every now and then I don’t want to go for anything gnarly at all. I always follow my feelings.
I think that’s what comes across in your parts: Nothing seems forced, it is all natural. Who did you meet during filming and who will appear in 9191?
This season I was able to revive a few snowboard friendships: DCP, Jake Blauvelt, Terje, Wille Luoma, Luke Mitrani, Nicolas Müller, Blair Habenicht, WOLLE!, Luaks Debari, Marco Feichtner, and Arthur Longo.
Wow, that sounds awesome! The crew reads like the Who's Who of backcountry riding.
To me they are trustfully companions when it comes to snowboarding and everything around it.
Let’s change the topic: You rarely compete in contests. Why – or why not?
I have the wrong attitude from the start as I keep thinking that I will screw it up anyways... I guess I’d always need some extra time to come up with a trick that might work and get me the prize money.
Well, people don’t know you for your contest results anyway. But what’s your take on the ever growing contests and the fact that the media’s interest is focussed on them? Just think of the Olympics, the Dew Tour, Air&Style, etc.
It is a nice sport, and I would love to 'cash in' like everyone else... the popularity is indeed growing. For me, though, it is all about experiencing adventures. I often think about liberty, creativity, serenity in terms of my sport. It is a sport that is inaccessible for many, because you need a lot of equipment and other stuff up on the mountain.
Yeah, true that. At least you are able to give something back to the many people who dream about being on those mountains where you are riding.
For sure. I hope the film will show that the only way to get there is through friends.
We are very much looking forward to it. What’s going to happen when the season is finally over? Do you have any plans for summer?
I will roam my family and friends... let’s see what adventures await me.
Last question: When I picked you up in Bregenz about two years ago, you had this insane Ford Mustang. What does your fleet currently consist of?
My skateboard is my number one, then the family car, a half-wrecked motorbike, which I will have to put together over Summer. My BMX has also a flat tire. And I should change the starter of my Mustang – currently the only way to get it going is by banging it hard.
Well, right there there are challenges for two summers to come.
(Laughs) Yes, I would say so, too. Anything else?
No, I think I’ve taken enough of your precious time.
That suits me – dinner is ready! Have a great spring evening...
Enjoy being home and spending time with the family – at least until it’s on again. Hope to see you soon and thanks a lot Gigi!