Eero Ettala's been going strong in snowboarding for many a year now but, as we found out at Hemsedal's opening weekend trip with Oakley this year, the Finn's energy reserves are far from depleted.
Still settling back into things after having his knee operated on this summer, we grabbed a minute to chat on our way back through the airport, having crammed some early park laps and both outdoor and indoor mini ramp snowboard/skate sessions into the day before.
Interview and photos - Mike Brindley
How has it been since you stopped filming video parts?
Well actually I thought after filming Ender I would have more time to ride for myself, and I definitely did because I wasn't filming non-stop - but I was still travelling all the time and just doing trips here and there with different sponsors. You know, going somewhere with Skullcandy, going somewhere with Nitro, Red Bull or Oakley, so it actually ended up being quite a lot of travelling. And I was just like, filming here and there, but not really stressing about it too much, I wasn't forced to go somewhere and try to stack footage, which was kind of nice. After filming video parts for thirteen or fourteen years it was nice to get a break and just have pressure-free seasons.
Is there anything that you used to be really hyped about that doesn't appeal any more?
I love riding backcountry and doing pow slashes and stuff, but maybe when you go out there and build a jump for three hours and then get to hit it a couple of times and eat shit, maybe that's not something I'd want to do in my free time anymore. I'd rather go and ride the park or take the lift or hike on a nice pow day. But building jumps and eating shit, that's not something that I really miss.
"building jumps and eating shit, that's not something that I really miss"
You've seen the Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding?
Yea exactly. I mean hitting jumps in pow, it's super fun but it sometimes takes more than it gives. So I totally understand Jake Blauvelt and these guys when they take the decision that they're riding terrain naturally and not spending time building stuff. But then I still do that in the streets, I guess somehow it's different, you're in a different environment, hanging out in the night hours when it feels like the whole city is dead, I think that has something to it that I really enjoy.
I guess in the backcountry too, there's also those risks like rocks and avalanches that I never felt that comfortable with, coming out of Finland, we were not born to ride powder.
Ok cool, and you're going to the Olympics this year?
Yea I'm there with this Finnish alcohol company called Original Long Drink, doing this ad campaign and social media clips, just some fun content.
Do you think you'll get time to watch everything that you want to watch?
I dunno, cos we did a similar campaign in Rio a few years ago, and I thought I was going to be able to see all the sports and I didn't see anything. So I think it's going to be pretty busy this time as well, but hopefully we get to go watch hockey once, that would be nice.
And in the snowboarding, is there anyone you're really hyped to see, or anyone you're backing?
Yeah I'm always hyped to watch snowboarding on TV, or hopefully I get to go live and see some of it. But for sure like Marcus Kleveland, Mark McMorris, and probably Max Parrot, there's a good chance at least one of them is going to podium, they're gonna be hard to beat. Mark McMorris has been slaying it, which is pretty crazy after coming back from that injury, and now he's already winning contests.
He almost died, and people were questioning if he was going to make it to the Olympics, and then he's just gone and won Air & Style, so he seems pretty ready. It must just be that he was that far ahead that even though he lost half a year, he didn't really lose out.
Cool, so you've been talking about the Nitro movie, 28 Winters, that's out now. What can we expect?
Yea so it's the story of Nitro snowboards, and how it was founded and started, and the reasons behind it. I think it's a pretty cool story about snowboarding in general and the snowboard industry, and Nitro as a company, and showcasing the team.
Kind of like the different aspects of snowboarding as well cos there's Elias Elhardt, and Bryan Fox and Austin Smith, and I'm doing some street stuff, and Kleveland is doing his knuckle tricks, and then there's guys doing contests, so it's just a pretty cool story about snowboarding in general and what it is today, and what it used to be.
Do you think that kind of story aspect is important to movies these days? Do we need to get away from the 'formula' of snowboard movies to get people to pay attention?
I think there's a certain target group for different things. Like there's kids who just want to watch action and then a little bit of the older generation that would rather hear the stories as well.
I mean I think documentaries like this, it's not something you watch every morning before you go shredding, but you watch it once and you learn something from it, but I mean the action-packed snowboard movies, you could watch one from five or ten years ago and then watch one from today, and it doesn't really change that much.
Maybe the urban riding changes, but the backcountry has stayed pretty much the same. There's a lot of backcountry riders that could basically use footage that they got ten years ago in their video parts these days, and people couldn't tell the difference, maybe just the outfits were different, and the stance was a bit wider. But nothing else has really changed, you've still got a frontside 5 and a front 3 off a cliff, you know.
I mean for me it was the same, you had these kind of stock tricks that you needed to get to fulfil that part, so you go in the backcountry, do a cab 5 and a back 7, and in the end you feel like you don't even care about those shots, and I don't think anyone else really cares about them, but they sort of have to be there so that you've got three minutes of footage.
"After doing that for 15 years you're like 'why am I doing this, why am I shooting something that people don't care about?'. I'd rather do a project that people react to"
After doing that for 15 years you're like 'why am I doing this, why am I shooting something that people don't care about?'. I'd rather do a project that people react to and talk about, that has more meaning than just travelling for five months and stacking footage. I guess it changes; once you've done something for so long, you're looking for the next thing to do.
Right. So that kind of leads us on, you've got a follow up to Helsinki Transitions on its way, what's the theme for that?
Um, yea so basically tomorrow I'm going to go and look at the spot with the location scout/manager, who'll talk to the city and get the permission to close the roads and stuff. But there's one part of downtown Helsinki that goes down hill, and it starts from a church so we want to make a line of seven features - most likely we'll have to import snow, but it'll be like hitting handrails, jumping over cars, then a wallride, and just doing a legit line, filmed really skate style with follow cam.
And will it have that artsy element like Transitions as well?
No no, this is gonna be just, like the way I picture it I want to do it as raw as possible, but depending how the line is and how long it takes and stuff, maybe there's a possibility that the follow cam will be the priority angle, then if there's time we could also get the drone angle, or maybe the POV so you can see it from different perspectives as well.
Depending on the time that we have on the spot, and how good it works - you never know with that kind of stuff, if you have to add speed bumps and stuff, and if the follow cam can keep the speed up. So we'll see, it might be a mission but I think it'll be cool.
I have the location already, I've already decided what tricks to do and how to do the line and stuff. So it's all kind of planned and organised, but now we just have to wait for snow, or just pick a date and be ready to import snow.
Nice. Any other grand plans for the future?
Not too much, with snowboarding I'll just try to go a year at a time and see how my body feels, and as things are looking now I'm definitely staying motivated and enjoying it, but I just want to go year by year and then also see how the support is from the sponsors.
I didn't have any support I would still stay at home and ride my local resort for fun, but I'm still happy to go and travel and having the support from all these companies I'm feeling really fortunate, and then as a side mission I'm doing some TV hosting back home in Finland, so I'm hoping next summer when I'm on a summer vacation from snowboarding I get to do more TV stuff. So that's maybe a sort of transition, just having a plan B because I know the snowboarding profession is going to be done at some point anyway. I know I can't be a pro till I'm 50, but hopefully I get to do it for as long as possible.
Peep a few clips from our weekend with Eero below: