Lift Line – Antti Autti on Contests & Progression

[Antti Autti in Ruka. Photo: Matt Georges]

A rebate for this interesting chat we had with ex-contest charger and current powder fiend Antti Autti on the subject of technical progression and competitive snowboarding…

Through the first decade of the 2000s, Antti was a certified contest machine and one of the few dudes to get the better of Shaun White in his prime. Several years ago Antti turned his back on bib life and dedicated himself to charging powder. Projects like Approach & Attack, Statements, and the forthcoming Arctic Lights have shown him and his homies chasing pow around the planet (increasingly being drawn to the relatively uncharted terrain of the Arctic big mountains). But as someone who’s been through the contest grinder, competed at the highest level and can relate to the pressures and expectations involved, we find such riders’ opinions more illuminating than those ‘It fucking sucks’ ones trotted out by people who’ve for the most part dodged the contest side of the sport.

This interview is from the archives, but with Yuki Kadono putting down a quad cork 1980 the other week, it’s remarkably relevant and as such we decided to give it a rebate…

Let’s talk about the current trend of spinning and flipping like a madman. In your opinion is it good, bad, or not that simple?

Hmm! It is not so simple in my mind. I think it is good that snowboarding progresses but at the same time it is weird to see that some people are now only stoked about all the crazy flips and do not care about the style so much anymore. You know, some riders do not care how the tricks look; the only thing that matters is to them is that they are able to pull the trick… there were big talks amongst the riders when I was doing contests about how in snowboarding it was still cool that we were not doing all those triple backflips with 1080s like aerial skiers, but now it has come to that point. I think that most of those tricks look cool, but some younger riders are now for sure skipping steps and trying to do doubles and stuff right away before even learning the basics with style. At least in Finland I can see this chuck fest when I go to the parks…

That’s interesting to hear. So what’s the pressure like to huck harder and harder when you’re heavily in the contest scene?

I think if you are only doing competitions the pressure is there because you want to do well! But it also comes down to what the riders and judges wanna see. We progress the snowboarding but judges will at the end show what they respect in the contest. You know, when I did pipe contests my frontside 9 was one the most ugliest tricks I have ever done in the run and I hated it, but I knew that I would get more points doing it than doing a nice alley-oop – even though my run already had 1080s. I always felt like ‘Man! This sucks that judges will give me more points for this shitty nine over a nice alley-oop.’ I felt like I let myself down but ended up doing it from time to time just to get better result. This same judging criteria in the pipe is still there and I have not seen any signs that it will be changing.

“When I did pipe contests my frontside 9 was one the most ugliest tricks I have ever done in the run and I hated it, but I knew that I would get more points doing it than doing a nice alley-oop.”

Charging lines on a secret Swedish peak. Photo: Jani Karppa

So you think it’s down to the judges to be more strict with regard to style and grabs?

Hmm… well I think there should be some kind of way to judge these shitty looking but still perfectly spun tricks lower. It is hard for me to say how it should be done but snowboarding needs progression and so does judging. The Flow scoring nowadays in World Snowboard Tour is good experiment. I think that pipe contests and slopestyle, too, generally would need to be more about flow of the runs… For example: backside 1080, 1260 or 1440s are sick tricks but can be done while holding the Mute and your knee with other hand. It might look nice from far away but if you are holding your knees this should most definitely be judged low… or frontside 1080 tails needs to be done the way that you do not hold the grab in your armpit…

Many riders agree that they prefer the feeling of a slow, styled tricks over a doubles or triples. But don’t you think that if that was all that got thrown at contests or in video parts, the same people who criticise such hucking would be complaining about a lack of progression?

Yes, that would happen for sure. Snowboarding needs both… but there will always be haters no matter what you do. When it is time for competitions you wanna do your best and it is a fact that a backside 540 does not make the cut then in a normal contest format…

What caused you to fall out of love with the contest scene and start making your transition into the kind of stuff you’re doing today?

Many reasons, but the main one was that I felt like I wasn’t using all my potential as a rider. I did powder trips every year but there was always competitions waiting around the corner. I also felt like doing competitions did not feel so exciting anymore. It was weird, like I got third at X Games in the pipe 2009 and I felt like ‘Whatever, man. I have been here before. Everything is the same; nothing is changing.’ So mainly I felt that I needed to do stuff that would make me feel the happiest in snowboarding. I was also lucky enough to have a good crew of sponsors backing me up with this change. I hope that some other contest riders can do the same if they are not feeling good about contest circuit anymore. Snowboarding is about experimenting and finding new ways to enjoy…

“I got third at X Games in the pipe 2009 and I felt like “Whatever, man. I have been here before. everything is the same; nothing is changing.”

[Suomi style in Riksgränsen. Photo: Jani Karppa]


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