[Elias on call in Japan. Photo: Matt Georges]
Elias Elhardt has to be hands down one of the most stoked kids in snowboarding – and in a game like this, that’s saying something. He hung up his contest boots a few seasons back to concentrate on filming, and subsequently blew the doors off with some insane powder and line-loaded parts with the Pirates. We sat down with the good German to rap about those days on the hill when the cameras aren’t rolling... As a bonus, you can also check out what he thinks of his killer Dakine outerwear, his signature mitts and backpack.
Can you give us a rough idea of how much time you spend shooting, how much is spent doing contests, how much time ‘training’, and how much time you get to just ride for yourself?
My snowboard plan has actually changed quite a bit over the past couple years. Nowadays, I usually ride only one or two contests a year and those are mostly just fun events like the Mt Baker Banked Slalom. For all the rest of the season, from January till May, I'm just fooling around in the backcountry and filming for different video projects. So therefore also my preparation in autumn isn't your classic training where I practice specific tricks, but rather just shredding around in the resort and trying to jump over everything that comes my way...
How does a day on the hill differ when you’re just riding without any of the ‘day job’ pressures?
I can't really make a separation between training and private time. For me, both are just one. On the one hand I enjoy shredding around so much that it doesn't ever feel like work. On the other hand, I'm always stoked to challenge myself with new moves anyways, so in that sense I'm always training as well.
"Trying new things is a big part of the magic in snowboarding for me."
Who’s in your dream crew for freetime shredding?
Definitely my buddy Marco Smolla! We used to film together some years back and now we always shred together when I'm not filming and he's free from university. That's the best! We try flips over every little bump we can find or just bounce through some powder.
Pipe, park, pow, streets? Where would you go and why?
I also like pipe and park, but definitely powder riding is my favourite thing to do! It's never the same and there's no boundaries where to go or what to do. It's just that open field of fresh snow and a million opportunities to jump around and find my line in there.
Do you use the time when you're not shooting to fuck around and figure out things you might actually think could work on film. Like weird grabs, carving, side hits and so on?
Always! Trying new things is a big part of the magic in snowboarding for me. It doesn't need to be a new trick... but trying just every little detail a bit different from time to time is really rewarding. It keeps riding fresh, exciting and vital!
Does riding without the pressure of shooting or working on tricks actually feel like a day off? Or, phrased another way, does the pro side of snowboarding ever feel like a job?
It definitely has it's own quality, to just be fooling around in the resort all day, without any filming mission. Those times are not connected with an aim to achieve anything and there's also less risk involved. On the other side, though, those shooting days where you try to push your limits can be the best ever. You ride amazing terrain at your highest level and you achieve something that seems important to you. So, in the end I can definitely not say what I prefer. Filming or just riding for myself. Both can be amazing for their own reasons.
Do you ever get recognised by people who wanna hang, get photos with you or buy you schnapps? What’s your reaction when it’s a day off?
Sometimes people come up to me. That's usually nice, as snowboarding connects us and we share the same passion. It only get's a bit tricky for me If feel like I'm expected to behave a certain way.
"On the one hand I enjoy shredding around so much, that it doesn't have any work character. On the other hand, I'm always stoked to challenge myself with new moves anyways, so in that sense I'm always training as well."
To the kids, being able to ride 24/7 will sound like the best thing ever. How important is it to make sure you get time to step back a bit and enjoy riding for yourself, or even downtime off the board?
It's really essential for me to find a good balance here. Like I said, I enjoy filming a lot, but to keep that motivation, it's really important to also ride for myself from time to time, not connected with any expectations. Also, in general, it's essential to keep that excitement up for my snowboarding. If I don't feel that pleasure when riding, it just doesn't work for me. So, besides snowboarding, I'm also studying and following other different interests. This way, I try to always keep everything fresh and exciting, whatever I do.
Elias's part from the Pirates' Distorted Reality a couple of years back is still an Onboard favourite – that monster front 180! That lengthy double dipping ender! Thanks to the internet, we can give you the chance to re-live it right here...