No two ways about it, Sven Thorgren is freakishly good at freestyle snowboarding. We sat him down and gave him a good grilling to get his tips to help you with stepping up your park riding skills...
When you want to try your first 360, what do you need to have dialled and what should you think about and focus on?
First off look how others do it. That always helps you understand what kind of things they’re doing. Try to take it step by step. Make sure you can do a straight air properly before. You have to learn the basics, and if you know how to do a good straight air you’ll probably be able to do a good 360 as well. You always progress step by step.
Backside or frontside spins? What is easier to try first?
It totally depends which way you like to spin. Everybody has their favourite way. Some riders don’t but most do. I’m better at spinning rightside, so backside or cab spins. I feel like I’m always getting better at the other way though. It depends what you feel like you can do. I think back three is probably easier than a front three though; it feels less scary because you can spot the landing sooner.
"You have to learn the basics, and if you know how to do a good straight air you’ll probably be able to do a good 360 as well. You always progress step by step."
What’s the best way to recover mentally after a few heavy slams in the park?
Try not to be scared, try it again. Some people get really frustrated when something doesn’t work the first time but it takes time to learn stuff – you have to keep trying. I feel like I’ve never been a naturally talented rider, where everything just clicks from the start, I’ve had to work to become a good snowboarder. You have to work for it.
What do you need to have down when moving from ride on boxes to rails?
Just try it, just send it. You have to learn from your mistakes the hard way. Don’t be scared at that level, you just have to go for it.
When you see a new, creative feature in the park, how would you typically approach it?
It kind of comes automatically for me, I’m just looking at it and I know instantly. If you’re a beginner go and have a look when you’re close to it so you can see what you have to jump over or whatever. You should always check it out before you send it, but it’s more fun if you don’t!
"I feel like I’ve never been a naturally talented rider, where everything just clicks from the start, I’ve had to work to become a good snowboarder."
Grabs are obviously great for keeping you stable in the air, but which are best for speeding up each type of rotation?
For backside it’s probably Melon or Mute because you send your arm the direction of the spin so you can just grab it. With nose and tail grabs you have to spin faster to make the rotation. Start off with something in between your bindings, and then when you get that you can try different grabs.
If you’re a super comfortable park rider – you’ve got most rotations up to 5s and maybe 7s on lock – where do you go from there?
When I was a beginner it was always about how big the jump was. You have to feel it out. If you want to cork you should start off with inverted back 5s, Underflips - frontside and Cab - then take it from there. It’s hard to say, everyone is different and wants to do what they want to do.
"It’s just you have to commit. Commitment is everything."
When you want to go upside down for the first time, how do you prepare best to make sure your first backflip isn't a half backflip to sore head?
Just motivate yourself to try. Start off with a safe kicker, just a classic backflip jump, maybe into powder. That’s the safest. Get stoked and just send it. As soon as you get upside down you won’t be afraid any more. For me, when I was a kid I was super afraid of doing my first backflip. It took me a while. As soon as I did one it was easy – you’ll usually land it second or third try. It’s not a hard trick, it’s just you have to commit. Commitment is everything.
In skateboarding, kids can tre-flip before they can ollie these days. In snowboarding all the groms might want to just get doubling before their switch back 1 is on point. But say a kid wanted to step to a double cork. What advice do you have for them?
First of all you need to have it in your head how you want to do it. But you also need the basics of the trick. If you want to do a backside double cork you should be able to do a backside 1080, and an inverted back 7. Take it step by step. Learn all the 540s and 720s before you try a double.
What’s the best way to make your tricks look better?
Get good pop. Tweak it. Try to stay mellow and don’t flap your arms everywhere. If you’re in control of a trick, it usually looks stylish. Control is kind of style to me, seeing someone in control is stylish as well.
Any other tips you want to add?
Instead of just sending it you need to know how to do a proper ollie. Keep the style and don’t just send it. You wanna look stylish while you do the trick. Just have fun, shred as hard as you can.