As snowboarding in the 90s managed to successfully navigate past the end-times of the Millennium Bug and into a brave new century, Mikko Rajakangas was on the come-up as part of the new wave of Finnish rippers that were dominating the time – much as the Norwegian young bucks have tended to do in more recent history.
Thanks to his relationship with ex-Onboard staff shooter Pat Vermuelen he was regularly featured in the pages of our mag (RIP) as well as Pat’s own movies, before getting the chance to film in the US with Kurt Heine’s Strait Jacket Films – he had the ender in 2001’s Unleashed, backed up with the same spot in 2002’s Road to Madness (the ‘down and round the bend C-rail and rhythm section being particularly memorable).
Shortly after that though, as pro snowboarders have a tendency to do, he vanished. But the other day Mikko hit us up on Facebook to tell us he’d recently turned 40 and produced an edit of him growing old (dis)gracefully and still taking it to the streets, which we think we can all applaud. Hyped to see him still ripping the snow- and skateboards, we hit him up to find out what’s been cooking these past 15 years or so…
Where are you now? Is there a resort near you?
I live in Oulu, Finland. There’s a little hill caller Rusko that used to be a dump. It smells pretty bad when you’re riding because the new dump is right next to it. I rode maybe 25 days last season.
The last I remember you were on Nidecker in the late 90s to early 2000s. Who were you filming and shooting with back then?
I rode for Nidecker for nine years. We shot mostly photos with Eric Bergeri, and filmed in Europe with Pat Vermeulen. In the States I filmed with Kurt Heine for Strait Jacket Films
What happened after that? Did you quit to do other stuff, or was it an injury/lack of contracts?
I quit because Nidecker couldn’t pay my travels anymore. I guess the snowboard industry took a dive that time.
Did you keep riding regularly once you were no longer pro?
I had an eight-year break from snowboarding, and started again the autumn of 2016. But you know it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to do it! I posted some shots on Instagram and got sponsored again by this nice small Scottish company called norVern Snowboards. I never stopped skating and got sponsored there as well by Statum Skateboards.
“I had an eight-year break from snowboarding, and started again the autumn of 2016. But you know it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to do it!”
How did you adjust from changing from a life chasing snow around the world to one where other things became more important to pay the bills?
I went to school to study construction work, and we also built some skateparks in Lapland. I still work construction. My seven-year long dream is to start a drum company called Arctic Circle Custom Drums ACCD. I just built the first mould for a snare drum.
So I read it right that you’re a drummer in a metal band these days? Were you always playing drums or did that come after you stopped being a pro rider?
I have played drums since 2002 – I’ve played in three different bands. Now we actually play melodic skatepunk – our band is called Mad Tolerance and you can check us out on Youtube.
When some guys I know have quit being pro they continue to ride but don’t pay so much attention to ‘the scene’ as it were. Did you follow snowboarding much once you’d stopped?
I followed it, but not that intensely. My favourite movies are still the Creatures Of Habit trilogy.
There’s some park stuff in your edit, which you’d kinda expect. but then you also take stuff to the streets. How was that?
I actually rode more in the streets. I like to hit street rails more than park.
What do you make of where pro snowboarding is today?
That most of it has gone insane gymnast looking shit with no soul?
Hawk’s just dropped his 50 tricks at 50. Why do you think snowboarding doesn’t have such success at keeping its older riders involved in the industry?
When you hit 30 you have either broken something or you just didn’t have enough time to learn the newest tricks because nobody pays you to practice, and apparently style is not the most respected thing about snowboarding. Huck for the buck, bro!
Youtube: Mikko Rajakangas
Sponsors: norVern Snowboards, Statum Skateboards