The Halldor Helgason Interview

Halldor Helgason. Photo: Sami Tuoriniemi.

Check out Halldor Helgason’s interview that was in issue 124, along with some banging video of the Icelandic phenomenon.

It’s summer and snowboard stuff is pretty thin on the ground, so we dusted off this interview with snowboarding’s very own version of Hansel, Mr Halldor Helgason (along with asides from the infamous Johannes Brenning), that was featured in the magazine last season, plus several tasty edits of the man himself from his career…

GOING ALL IN – The Halldor Helgason Interview

[Words: Uli Köhler]


Only a couple of years ago, maybe a handful of people in snowboarding had heard of the name Halldor Helgason. To everyone else, he was an unknown face from Iceland. Even today, he could be described as the most inconsistent contest snowboarder in the world (after all, who else has managed to come in first AND last in the X Games). Nonetheless, he is currently the most sought-after 20-year-old in snowboarding. His Nike TM Jon Weaver explains: “He is the boss. Kids love him, magazines love him, girls seem to love him, and he can drag snowboarding any which way he chooses right now.” We concur.

During a Nike shoot in Norway we had an interview scheduled with Halldor. He brought his infamous filmer and man behind Johannes Brenning along (“the evil genius”, according to Weaver). Consequently, some of the things said were a little off the record, and it was impossible to get through the interview as planned. For the second half we isolated Halldor, and he told us more about his portfolio of brands, his relationship to sponsors, and his upcoming movie Sexual Snowboarding.

For the three of you who are not familiar with Halldor here are the facts: Born on 10 January 1991, he grew up in Akureyri, Iceland. Up until recently he followed his older brother Eiki’s footsteps: They both started to snowboard at home in Iceland, went to a Swedish snowboard school, appeared in the Factor Films’ productions Up in the Sky and Notes, launched ground-breaking web video diary and created brands like 7/9/13 and Lobster Snowboards. But somewhere along the way Halldor delivered some incredible video parts on his own (for Standard Films and the Pirates), won the big air at the 2010 Winter X Games with a perfect score, and he recently signed a profitable deal with Nike 6.0. But most of all his charisma and unique approach to snowboarding have gained him a cult following in the global snowboard scene. Which in no small part was facilitated through the über-popular website. Obviously, we wanted to know more about its success when Halldor and Johannes sat down with us…


Your website is hugely popular, while a lot of other riders’ sites don’t seem to make the cut. What are these guys missing – or what is it that you guys have?

Johannes: I think it’s the looks. Really. The three of us look super-good. And if you bring in people like Gulli… phew! He’s hot, too!

Halldor: That’s one of the most important things: just to look really good.

Oh, that’s probably why some of our own Onboard videos have failed miserably.

Johannes: I don’t know… I think we were definitely among the first to do it, and we’ve been doing it for two years now. It takes time to finance a site like that. And now there’s many, and there are so many to choose from. We were there in the beginning, and people might have only time to look at one [website], and we were the first.

How did you come up with the idea? It takes a lot to be the first at something.

Halldor: The whole thing was kind of his idea. [points at Johannes]

Johannes: Not really! I thought it was fun to make maybe one video a week or every two weeks. And his [Halldor’s] agent Kristoffer said we had to do a video every day. We were like ‘oh yeah!’ and said yes, but never planned on doing it. But then we started trying to post every day. We never really ‘saved’ an idea [for later]. We’d just find a song and edit to it straight away and didn’t save it for anything. Never save stuff, just go all-in all the time!

How did you guys meet?

Johannes: [laughs]

Halldor: I think the first time we’ve met was when I got knocked out.

Johannes: Yeah, that’s a funny story. When was that?

Halldor: I was maybe 14 or 15 at the time.

Johannes: Six years ago?

Halldor: Yeah, probably.

Johannes: There was a rail contest in Oslo. He did back lips and caught his heel edge and did one and a half back flips onto his head on the stairs. He passed out for, like ten seconds. He just started walking around super-confused. Eiki was just pointing at him. And I remember Gulli was just pointing at him and said: ‘Look at Halldor, he doesn’t even know where he is right now!’ – and then just laughed. So I just grabbed Halldor and asked ‘You’re ok? You need to sit down!’ And then, a year later, he was like ‘Thanks for saving me in Oslo.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean, saving?’

Halldor: It was weird. It was the first time I got knocked out, so I had no idea what was going on. And I just remember that all of a sudden I just popped back in. Totally random. I was standing at the top again, ready to drop in for the next round, and I just started riding, just right again. That is probably the most stupid thing you can do after you get knocked out: just keep on riding. But it worked out. [laughs]


One can say you’ve done fairly well since. How does this affect your online work? Do you feel more pressure, for example from your sponsors?

Halldor: The sponsors pretty much let me do whatever I want. The sponsors are supposed to sponsor you for what you do. They’re not supposed to be telling you what to do. I’m not stoked when people try to tell you what to look like, or what to do. It just kind of destroys the whole thing for me.

That’s what all the riders tell us all the time. But at some point some of them lose the touch, they’re not in it for the right reasons anymore. How do you avoid that. How do you keep loving what you’re doing?

Halldor: Just think back and remember how you used to do it! Don’t get mind-fucked by all your sponsors. Just remember what you did it for the first time, and why. That’s probably the most fun you can have. Just don’t get mind-fucked by the sponsors, that’s pretty much it.

Does it help that you not only won the X Games, you also came in last?

Halldor: I think it’s a good combo. Pretty good. I mean, first or last.

Johannes: [screams] Ricky Bobby!

Halldor: Yeah, Ricky Bobby. That’s how you do it! [laughs]

Johannes: [screams] Shake and bake!

Halldor: No, I’m really not a good contest rider. I don’t have my tricks on lock all the time. I really don’t. [laughs]

Johannes: He always figures out his line, standing there, ready to drop in. At X Games, I always had to tell him, ‘You’re up in two minutes!’, and he is sleeping somewhere in a tent, and goes like ‘What!? Is it big air or slopestyle?’ [both laugh] No really, it’s like that. We’re always talking stuff like ‘I think I’m going to do a front 10 off my toes’, and he hasn’t landed it in a single practise run or even tried it before. I guess you get a good position IF you land your run, but that’s pretty rare. [laughs]

Halldor: I think it’s pretty good! At a contest I try to think of a run, and if I’m going to land it I get maybe first or second or third place – but that’s only IF I land. Otherwise I’ll just get last place. People can’t always think that I’m going to win. I have heard it so many times, like, ‘What? How did Halldor do so bad in that contest?’ Man, I pretty much came last in all contests except X Games. I’ve actually done well in some qualifications, but that’s pretty much it.


Johannes: That’s probably because most people try to make the finals in qualifications, but you’re going all-in, and you do the hardest run you can probably do, and if you land it, you’ll win qualifications.

To be fair, there are a few riders who have recently landed tricks that are quite hard to beat – the triple corks. What do you do to keep up with that?

Halldor: Yeah, triples are easy! Just send it as hard as you can this way [initiates a corked rotation], then grab and hold on! [laughs] I’ve actually never done a triple, but I think I know how to do it… nah… [laughs] But it’s crazy, the contest riders are such good snowboarders, they’re like robots. They stomp all the time. Crazy.

Johannes: People might not know that you don’t always ride in a park. When you’re not riding at a contest you’re usually filming rails.

Halldor: That’s true. That’s what I’m most stoked on; filming rails, or pretty much just filming. Contests are fun to do, but I don’t want to do too many. But it’s good for me to do a couple of contests. Because then I see what the other guys are doing, and I wanna try that, too.


Johannes, do you think that some day your work with the Helgasons is getting repetitive? There are only so many contests to ride, cities to go and things to do…

Johannes: No, not as long as you stay creative. Halldor and Eiki always find new stuff all the time. They’re always doing new tricks, so that will be interesting to watch. And I usually hate what I did maybe a year ago. I hate my first edits. Probably I’ll change the way I edit, and why I think it’s funny. Everything’s going to change all the time.

Halldor: Also, when you watch your own video part from last year, you don’t like it at all. You get stoked on other tricks, and new things.

Johannes: And he will turn 21, and it will be easier to party in the US.

Halldor: Oh yeah. We might be spending a lot of time in Las Vegas and stuff like that.

Johannes: And we’ll focus it more on The plan is maybe next year to put up more sick riding straight away. Maybe one in four days we’ll post something straight away. Save the banger-banger shots, but have it all in there AND in the video part.

Halldor: We really just wanna go all-in and do our own thing.


After this question everything went very off-script, and we talked about Final Cut hints, pleasing your dads, and the (un-)popularity of penises in the US. No worries, we posted all of it here! We’re picking up the conversation just after Johannes had left…

Can you tell us a little about ‘Sexual Snowboarding’ and the idea behind it?

Halldor: We always wanted to try to do our own movie, cause that’s what we always did when we were younger. We used to do a bunch of movies before, we got sponsors and whatever. We just wanted to try to do a real movie again. Just see how it’ll turn out. And so far, after this season, I think it’s gonna be pretty cool. Yeah, I’m stoked!

Is it just you and your brother or who else is going to be in it?

Halldor: It’s me, Eiki, and a bunch of other riders. Just everyone we’ve been hooking up with this year. It’s gonna follow us through the whole season.

Do you think a proper snowboard movie is more influential than other elements in snowboarding? How would you rank a movie compared to other stuff?

Man, I’ve always been way more stoked on snowboard movies! That’s what always got me stoked to go snowboarding. That’s what I want to keep on trying to do. I hope that thing is never gonna die out of snowboarding ever. That can never happen. At the moment it feels like contests are almost taking a little bit over, but I don’t know. I think it’s gonna be up and down. Snowboard movies will always be around, and this is going to be my main goal.

The first movie you’ve ever seen was The Resistance, right?

Yeah! First movie!

Can you name some other movies that you find that stand out?

I was so stoked on the Forum movies: True Life as well, and Shakedown. I got so stoked on that one. There’s like a heavy intro… I really like that one. Movies just get you super-stoked on, like, sending it! [laughs] And of course the Robot Food movies, too, because they changed it. It was only going more and more extreme, and then Robot Food came, and they made it ok to do some funny mellow stuff in the videos, too. It’s good, now you can do whatever. Another thing, too, is Think Thank. They changed a lot of stuff, too, but people never think about that. They’ve mad a lot of changes in snowboard movies as well.

Apart from your own movie you have your fingers in a lot of other pots. What else are you involved in? 7/9/13? Hoppipolla? Lobster?

7/9/13 is our belt brand. We started with some shoelaces with some random stuff on. Then there’s Hoppipolla, the headwear brand. We do just random designs, we just do whatever and that’s cool, because when you have your own stuff you can do whatever you want, and do things exactly the way you want them. It’s the same with Lobster Snowboards now. We started off with a pretty good model, and… how do you say it? A good sentence? ‘Lobster shit on my tits.’ Just to get it out there, you know?


It almost feels like you’re trying to replace all your sponsors with your own brands. Is that the main goal?

[Laughs] I don’t know. I’m not trying to get away from all the sponsors and just do my own stuff. I just wanna do both. It’s so fun being part of a thing. Because then when you ride you’re not doing it for some random guy that owns the company or whatever. You’re snowboarding and you’re making things better for yourself. People who have been snowboarding for Burton or whatever, there’s always this snowboard brand’s guy who owns the company or whatever, and he is making a bunch of money all the time. But you cannot get a new contract or whatever… It’s good. Now you’re just doing it for yourself!

Have you ever had any fights over business with your brother? Do you always share the same opinion?

I think we’re kind of similar. We have the same interests, and kind of the same humour, too. [laughs] It’s a good combo! We’re not fighting over anything or stuff like that. It’s mellow.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

2016? I’m gonna be 25 years old. To be honest I’m going to be trying to do exactly what I’m doing now. Just trying to progress and trying new stuff, and keeping on going as long as I can.


You’re still so young, but have already done so many things. How do you keep yourself motivated? I think we’ve all seen riders who can’t be fucked and complain a lot.

You always got to think that you’re snowboarding for yourself. No matter what, you’re just doing it for yourself. The most fun I have is when I go snowboarding. I think it’s pretty hard to complain. [laughs] It’s kind of stupid if you’re complaining a lot. Your job is to snowboard. [laughs again] You just have to realise how lucky you are that you are actually doing that. You can’t just take that for granted.

Do you think you have already accomplished a lot? Do you already see yourself as one of the top pros or do you still feel young and mostly look up to other guys?

I actually see myself as a really bad snowboarder. I always feel like everyone else is way better than me. I always try to catch up or try to do stuff like them. That way I can push myself and always try to do new stuff.

Who are you trying to follow? Can you drop some names?

No, it’s almost everyone! I really don’t have my tricks on lock all the time. I have to spend some time on them. I try not to do the same tricks over and over and over. That’s just not how I do it. I always try to think of something new. That way it stays fun, too. It’s so much fun when you land a new trick. And you get so pumped; you want to try another trick. You gotta keep that flow going! Or at least try to…

You recently signed with Nike. You are such a down-to-earth rider, who keeps things simple and who’s in there for the fun of it. Isn’t it a contradiction to team up with such a big brand?

I have been super-stoked on Nike [and] all the riders [and] all the people I work with. I can’t complain. But as I said before, I’m not snowboarding for the sponsors, I’m snowboarding for myself. That’s why I thought: No matter what sponsors I have, I’m not gonna change how I snowboard. No matter what sponsor I’m gonna have; the logo on my t-shirt doesn’t really change anything. I just try to find a smart way to live off my snowboarding as well. I think Nike can do a lot of good things for me… and things will go down! [laughs]

Thanks a lot for taking your time, Halldor!

Halldor wants to thank his sponsors: Monster, Skullcandy, Blue Tomato, Frontline, Kaleidoscope Skateboards, and Oakley.



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