[Sven Thorgren. Photo: Oskar Bakke/Junkyard.com]
Sven Thorgren is like the younger, fresh faced brother of Ståle Sandbech. They're not related but you might be fooled into thinking they are from their style on snowboard. Sven's riding combines equal measures of amplitude, technical prowess, confidence and some unusual grab combinations. He flies off kickers and sticks to rails, is always trying to progress his riding to be become a more well-rounded snowboarder and is quickly gathering momentum, as well as podiums on the contest scene. Just like Ståle you might be thinking.
On a typically wet and dreary day in London we met up with Sven in between a physiotherapy session for his recently dislocated shoulder and a meeting with the Monster Energy heads to talk everything on the subject of progression. He might have felt out of place in a London pub, but talking about one of the most contentious topics in snowboarding didn't phase him at all.
It's great to see a young rider who is so amped to ride as best he can all over the mountain, have a shit load of fun while doing it, try to push contest riding in a positive direction and get rewarded with some well-deserved high profile podiums. Sven knows the game more than you could imagine.
Sven, what pushes you to progress your riding?
First off it’s fun. For me that drives me most; how fun it is. Then it’s just being creative and living the lifestyle. Progression is what keeps you going, it’s a really important thing, you get really happy when you land a new trick so that’s what I'm always seeking kind of.
You were out in Stubai early season with some sick conditions and a great crew. When you're riding with your friends and everyone gets a bit amped up, is that what makes you try new stuff?
Yes, that’s pretty much all you need to have a good session. I was feeling really good in Stubai and I was just sending it without thinking to much about anything, so I just casually tried a triple backflip and got a bit too amped up, over rotated it and dislocated my shoulder. So only got two days over there.
"it will come to a point where you don’t want to progress just by spinning more and more and more and more, it’s not going to work in the long run"
It used to be the case that without progression, snowboarding would die. Now, with triples and quad corks, a lot of people would say snowboarding dies anyway, because of too much progression. Who’s right? Where does the balance lie?
I think progression is always important – it can’t stop progressing, that would suck. But it can progress in different ways and it will come to a point where you don’t want to progress by just spinning more and more and more and more. It’s not going to work in the long run if we want to keep it fun, have other people even understand the stuff we’re doing, and also keep the style in the sport. I think skateboarding is a good example for that: they’re doing crazier and crazier tricks but they’re not doing quad kickflips. It’s even lame to do a double kickflip. It’s not the same thing but it’s a good comparison.
I’m not blaming Billy [Morgan] and those guys who did the quadcork. I personally tried it three years ago in Åre, I didn’t land it. I had just learned a triple and was like "fuck, this is easy, let’s just try it", but it didn’t work out. Then after that, or even during that session, I was wondering if it was even fun to me. Since then I kind of got a bad taste of trying to spin more. It didn’t feel like I had fun, it just felt stupid to spin as hard as you can and not have any control over what you’re doing. So since then I never wanted to try it again.
"a quarterpipe or a hip should be standard in a slopestyle contest"
Do you think there are other ways of progressing in snowboarding that are often overlooked, outside of flipping and spinning? How can snowboarding progress in other ways?
Yeah, I think there are so many things to progress other then just spinning more. I feel like lot of riders are kind of blinded by this triple cork hype - and I’m probably one of them - that many forget about doing other hard tricks – rodeos, or proper pressing on rails and so on – that in my eyes can be a lot harder to do.
Most of all I really want see more transitions in the parks and in contests, I think a quarterpipe or a hip should be standard in a slopestyle contest and I think we would really see who can ride everything and not just send it on the jumps. So I would like to see that progress more.
I feel like I can always progress my style more, if I could do all my tricks as stylish as Mikkel Bang that would be ten times better for me.
Do you think competitions help or hinder progression in snowboarding?
It definitely helps the progression in snowboarding and I would have a hard time seeing snowboarding being this big without competition. Just like it helps surfing and skateboarding.
Do you think competing pushes riders to try not just harder tricks but to also put them down with more style?
Yes, that’s at least something I always try and I think we will see more of that hopefully.
How do you feel about some of the newer contest setups? There’s been a lot of really creative setups for example at Perisher and Nine Knights, other things like Peace Park. Should there be more of that?
There should be even more. Slopestyle to me is anything. It could be three quarter pipes and one jump and five rails. Now it’s kind of written in paper that it has to be three jib or rail features and three jumps, which I don’t like at all. It could be two jumps, one hip, a quarterpipe, three jumps, anything at all. Mix it up on the way so it’s not always three jumps in a row. It’s good that the US Open and contest like that put transition in the course but it’s still way too mellow, they could be doing even more crazy stuff.
On the other side, filming video parts for example, does it always have to be a gnarlier spot to progress the video part or make it better?
Nah, I like to see more creative spots or harder tricks rather then gnarly spots.
So more creative ways at looking at old spots?
Yeah that’s always fun to see, but I like to see video parts where the riders can ride everything from park, street or pow. And I think that a lot of riders kind of focus on one thing these days. It’s more fun to see a video part with everything.
Is that the ultimate goal for every snowboarder, just to be a well-rounded snowboarder?
Maybe not to everyone, but I like to be good at everything. I’m not that good in the pipe so that motivates me to ride more pipe. I guess it’s fun to learn new stuff all the time.
Who do you think is the most progressive snowboarder right now?
That’s a really hard question. Maybe Danny Davis with the way he’s progressing the pipe riding with more innovative tricks. But I don’t wanna pick one person, really.
When was the last time you learned a new trick?
That was… I’ve got to think. That was in Saas Fee a month ago, it was a back 12 tailgrab. I’d never done that rotation with that grab.
And how hard was it for you to get it down?
I’d been thinking about it for a long time without trying it and then it just clicked in my head. I knew how I was supposed to do it, then I did it first try. That’s often how I learn a new trick: you think about it for a long time and then after a while it makes sense in your head. When it makes sense and you can visualise it, usually you’ll land it first try. It’s a lot about thinking and imagining the trick.
Check out Sven's 2015 full part below. It's damn good.