Published in Onboard Magazine Issue 121, March 2011
Text: Joonas Reijonen
ELIAS ELHARDT IS A “CALM PERSON WHO THINKS BEFORE HE TALKS;" “AS A RIDER HE IS A FREAKING CAT:" "(HE IS) JUST HAPPY WITH EVERYTHING;" " SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE YOU TALK TO A WALL WHEN HE’S DAYDREAMING." THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE DESCRIPTIONS GIVEN BY FOLK WHO KNOW ELIAS ELHARDT. FROM TTR PODIUMS TO THE POWDER FIELDS OF ALPS THIS YOUNG GERMAN HAS DONE ‘EM ALL. ONBOARD TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT ONE OF GERMANY’S MOST PROMISING RIDERS.
When searching for "German snowboarder" on google the most common article that pops up is about a snowboarder who burned his cash to get attention after he was stranded on a ski lift for six hours. So as you can imagine the list for well known German snowboarders is not too long. Thankfully Elias doesn’t need to burn notes to get noticed, his riding does that.
Elias started snowboarding on his local mountain 11 years ago. “We where a clique, always hanging out at the skate park together. Then it was just natural, that we had to try snowboarding as well." Elias says that having fun was the most important part of snowboarding and getting better just came naturally over time. He soon began to get the attention of his fellow riders: “I met Elias four years ago just randomly in Snowpark NZ. I mean you can’t help but see Elias jumping around the park and riding every pump and transition that he can find", says Peter König, a friend and a fellow rider.
After making a name for himself in rookie contests he suddenly disappeared off the scene. He had suffered a nasty lung infection, the recovery from which took a whole season. “Those days, when I started again after the illness were just amazing. We had more than a metre of fresh powder and went up on my local mountain every day." In no time Elias was back in the saddle and kept hammering the competition scene with German precision. Loads of top ten positions sprinkled with a few podiums, including first place at the 4Star Horsefeathers Pleasure Jam with a perfect Backside 1080 Double Cork, and the world again knew Elias.
But where does all his success in competitions come from? Elias’s team manager Andi Aurhammer thinks that it is in the way the competative atmosphere affects him. “There’s a lot of pressure so he becomes very concentrated and focused." When asked about the Olympics and slopestyle becoming one of its events Elias doesn’t give a straight answer: “I’m really not sure what to think about it. I just hope that snowboarding never looses its roots and soul, now that everything is getting more and more professional. And would I compete in Olympics? I’d definitely not focus on it."
Elias himself came to our knowledge through competition, but is that the only way to get sponsored these days? “I think nowadays there’s different ways for young riders to get noticed" Elias told us. “For example by producing your own little video part and spreading it on the web. Nevertheless, I guess the most common and fastest way up for young riders is still to prove themselves in the competition circus and will be for some time."
But while Elias keeps racking up points on the TTR tour he has also managed to put together amazing video parts in Jolly Roger and Hooked for the Pirate crew productions. “Filming gives him the stage to express his kind of snowboarding. He enjoys playing around in powder. I guess he sometimes doesn’t even realizing that the camera is turned on", says Aurhammer. In movie parts style is all that matters: “Elias’s style is actually pretty hard to describe. I was thinking about that one day and couldn’t come up with an answer. He just has his own style. You will recognize him when you see him. He has a good eye for being creative on the mountain, on all terrains like backcountry, park or just riding the slope", says König. Maybe versatility is the word that defines the young German’s riding. According to Elias his “ultimate movie part would have powder lines, kickers, natural hits and pillow lines combined with some jibbing and spring shredding in the park. Most importantly I like to see that the rider in a video part likes what he’s doing and that makes me want to go snowboarding too."
The one word that keeps popping up about Elias is fun. But is there a place for fun in this day an age when snowboarding is getting so serious? "Snowboarding is getting more and more professional and nowadays the focus is a lot on the performance. Through that progress sometimes the joy of riding is getting a bit lost. Although I guess this is a very natural process for a sport growing up. I think it’s important to stick to our roots and keep freedom and fun as our main idea behind it all." To show that fun to everyone Elias started the Elias-friends.com videoblog at the beginning of the season. “As in contest riding, it is the performance and bangers that count. I was missing to just shred with friends and enjoy. To show this part of Snowboarding more, we started the Elias and friends project. I think it’s good not to only focus on ‘bigger, harder, better’ in professional snowboarding but to also give room for creative and most importantly fun riding."
An Italian filmer and a good friend of Elias Mario Castelani travels with him and produces short videos of the sessions around the world. “I think it’s cool to show people more, than just the video part and contests. It’s fun to share good sessions we’re having throughout the season and also the experiences we are making while travelling", believes Elias. But is it a mandatory for a pro rider to facebook and tweet? “It’s a good thing people get connected through platforms like Facebook. It’s just important to use it as a tool to make real live better and not to replace real live."
The future of Elias Elhardt is looks good. He has settled himself among the top riders both in the competition and filming scenes and having won the German Snowboarder of the year award twice in a row his options are open. But when asked him about what the future might hold he had one main wish: “I’ll probably spend more time in the backcountry to go filming in the future. Shredding powder is simply what I love the most in snowboarding." Elias would like to thank his sponsors Nitro, Rip Curl, Deeluxe, Dakine, TSG Protection and Moreboards.
Follow Elias and friends on www.elias-friends.com