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2009 Air&Style winner Marko Grilc. Photos: Sami Tuoriniemi.

If you’re from Slovenia, what are the odds that you’ll win the TTR 6-star Air&Style event one day? Hell, they are pretty low even if you are from one of the snowboarding strongholds like the US or Finland! We caught up with Marko Grilc, who has just been crowned the new Billabong Air&Style winner, after pulling off an amazing bag of tricks, including a switch back 10 late cork. Read on to learn the secrets of his success, how many text messages he received after his victory, and why Travis Rice is still crazy…

Hey Grilo, congratulations on this great success. Tell us, at what time into the contest did you realise that you might win it?

It wasn’t until the last jump that I really thought about that. Before that I had too many other things in my mind. First I was just happy that I was in the starting field. When I made the top 8 I thought ‘Wow, I will get an invitation for next year’s event!’, and even when I was in the superfinals I always focused on my next jump. So when I landed my last jump I realised ‘Cool I could win this!’ – and I did!

When did you learn all these new tricks – like a switch back 10 late cork?

Over the summer I went riding in Australia and New Zealand and practiced a lot. By the time I started riding in Europe I already felt very comfortable with my riding. I had two very good weeks in September in Austria, and I just tried the Switch version, and then the normal one, and both worked pretty good.

Switch backside 10 late cork to take the title.

Some people claim that once snowboarders are older than 25 they will not be able to add too much to their game. What makes you different?

That’s a good question and I don’t have an answer in general. I just know for me, I have never lost my focus: Snowboarding is my number one priority, and everything else comes second. I think you need to have the right mindset, stay focused all the time, and you have to enjoy what you are doing.

What are your thoughts about the fact that you are the new TTR World Ranking Number one – and this at least until the end of this year?

I have one just won one contest, and it’s the beginning of the season, it’s only December. To remain number one will take a lot of effort and a lot of good riding.  But I will give it my best and I will go to all the events, do my best, and try to enjoy snowboarding.

Backside 1080.

Speaking of which – what are your plans for the season?

I am so busy right now, I haven’t even figured out what’s going to happen next week (laughs). I have just been invited to a couple of big events that I might not have gotten into if I hadn’t won Air&Style. So I am going to do a lot of contests and I am going to film with my buddies. The season might be a little different, but I will try to have as much fun as possible.

Did you buy yourself a car or a new house with your prize money?

I took my friends out for dinner, and they were super stoked because it was a free meal! (laughs) And they ate a lot! (laughs again)

And have you noticed any difference in the reaction of girls now that you are a superstar?

I think that my career has reached the top, but my love life has hit ground zero! Just kidding. Girls aside, a lot of people have congratulated me on my success, and especially people in Slovenia are stoked that I did well in this contest.

Double backflip.

Coming back to the Air&Style: Why has the level of riding risen that much over the past two to three years? Before that it seemed like not much had changed in contest riding for a long time, and suddenly people spin in all directions and through all dimensions. What’s your take on this?

I think the progression of snowboarding wasn’t always visible in the way it is today. Just check what people did a couple of years ago in the backcountry or what went down on rails. Right now double corks are the next step, and they can be performed at contests. Everyone can see them and knows how the sport is progressing now. Over the last couple of months I realised that it takes quite an impressive jump to make it into the finals of a contest. This kind of freaks me. Is it going to stop – or if not what will 18-year-olds have to do in the future to become sponsored?

Is it the inner-city contests that will define the level of snowboarding for the time to come?

For now, this might really be the trend. These days, the progression of snowboarding is so focused on the trick you do. You can do everything in a contest, and you can check it out straight away live or on the internet. With the internet you have to update people daily, and this is what contests already do. Before, you progressed the sport in a movie, and everybody had to wait for a year to see it. Maybe this is why there’s so much attention on the events these days.

Do you think events like the Air&Style have influenced the way riders are signed by sponsors?

That’s the beauty of snowboarding: You don’t always have to do what you are supposed to do. You should just try to enjoy yourself and focus on that and this might work out for you. However, if you want to be recognised it is necessary to do contests. It has been like that for years. Once you are sponsored you get the chance choose the path you want to follow. To be honest, I don’t think many riders have been picked up just riding in a resort.

The first of many media moments for Grilo.

What’s the next trick you want to learn?

I have a few in my mind, but it depends very much on the conditions. You have to hit the right jump at the right time. I have seen Travis Rice do these double corks off the toe edge. I thought that was pretty sick. It’s straight up mental, but I like that style. It proved once again that he’s crazy.

We caught you in the middle of organising a movie premiere in Ljubljana. What’s that about?

Since my victory I have given interviews back to back. So many people called me. When I came home I turned my Slovenian cell phone on. It kept receiving text messages until the battery was empty. For Slovenia this is a big thing. If someone from the US won the Air&Style they would just be happy that one of their homies won again. I am sure the premiere tomorrow in Ljubljana will be pretty cool as I can celebrate with all my friends! Check my blog, I will post everything about the premiere. Can you maybe post a link to it?

For sure: Thanks for your time, Marko, and congratulations again on your win!


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