[Interview: Paula Viidu]
A couple of years back, we received an email from an Estonian girl we'd never heard of asking us to check out her new street part. The fact that it was filmed by Postland Theory made us sit up and take notice, not to mention that it was from an under-the-radar Euro chica, and once we'd finished watching the part it was clear that Ivika Jürgenson was a name we'd certainly be remembering. Fast forward to today and Ivika's been voted into 4th place in our European Rider of the Year awards by her peers, dropped another hammer-laden compilation of streetboarding, and is filming for Jess Kimura's The Uninvited project. It's safe to say that Ivika is on fire, so Paula Viidu sat down with her to get a little insight into what she's all about...
We've seen your Uninvited video part and it's sick. Tell us a little bit what you're up to at the moment, how's this season been so far and what's happening for you this spring?
Right now I’m waiting for my connecting flight to Quebec. Gonna go on a trip with The Uninvited crew! This season has been pretty good - a lot of shovelling! I’ve spent the most of it in Finland with the Postland crew. What I really wanna do this spring is to get some slushy park laps done!
Let's go back to the roots. You're from Estonia, how did you get into snowboarding, and what's the scene like there?
I guess I got into snowboarding because of my dad. We always use to go snowboarding and by that I mean skiing at Kuutsemäe - a local resort there. We always went skiing, until one day my dad suggested trying snowboarding because it looks like a lot of fun so me, my sister and my dad all got boards and we've all been snowboarding ever since - we never went back to skiing. But when I was living in Estonia, I couldn't snowboard all that much so after graduating high school - that’s when I got more into it. I'm not that familiar with the scene anymore, because I haven’t been there that much but I used to love snowboarding there because all the resorts are really small and it's kinda like riding indoors, the lifts are really short and you can take loads of laps so it’s really fun. But there’s not that much snow these days. The resorts open really late and everything just depends on the snow.
"Where I started snowboarding, they only had rails so that was the first thing I started riding. I never got into jumping that much or anything like that because we just didn’t have jumps there"
Where did you go to find more snow?
Right after graduating I did a season in Mayrhofen, that was my first season and that’s where I got more into snowboarding and after that… well, I'd always had a dream of going to Bear Mountain from watching all these awesome videos and I guess once you do a season there you don’t want to do a season anywhere else.
Where's your love for rails from?
That’s from Estonia, because all the resorts are really small so what they have there is small rails and small jumps. Where I started snowboarding, they only had rails so that was the first thing I started riding. I never got into jumping that much or anything like that because we just didn’t have jumps there.
You won the Volcom Peanut Butter Rail Jam a few years back. How do you feel about contests these days?
Nah, I don’t really compete. I guess there aren’t that many rail jams or rail contests anymore and I guess it’s also not really my thing. This past year and this year I’ve been filming and I didn’t wanna travel anywhere just to do a contest, I’d rather travel somewhere to film.
How did you hook up with Jess Kimura and The Uninvited crew?
I got uninvited [laughs].
Have you got any stories about encountering the police while filming for it?
Yeah, actually. In Canada, we wanted to film a spot that was obviously private property, there was a fence around it and there were a lot of signs on the fence saying 'Do Not Enter'. But we’d seen it ridden by other snowboarders so we thought it’ll be totally fine. So we climbed the fence, set it up and after a couple of tries a policeman shows up and he just starts screaming at us, goes fully mental and is telling us he has to arrest us now because we’re on a private property. So it’s just me and this other girl filming there and this is French Canada so this guy didn’t speak any English and is screaming at us in French. So he calls up the owner and he shows up and he’s super chilled. He’s like “Dude, these are just two girls filming some snowboarding, it’s fine, let them go." But the policeman was like “No, we have to take them to the police station etc." So at first we were pretty scared but then when the owner showed up, then everything was fine. But I was really scared of getting arrested and not being allowed back into Canada for a while. They’re super serious about that stuff there, e.g. if you got a DUI in the states, you can’t get into Canada. So I don’t wanna mess with the Canadians!
Do you reckon you can get away with more with the police, being female?
I think we can get away with way more stuff, especially if you’re with an all girl crew. You can get away with being like “Oh I’m just trying to ride this little rail here and I’m not trying to do anything bad" [laughs].
Best wreck story?
I’m always trying to block these memories, but last season I definitely broke my ribs on a rail. I just clipped it, but I don’t really have any good stories. It’s just something that happens.
Who’s your inspiration in snowboarding?
It’s always been Jess Kimura to me so that makes it extra funny that now I’m actually involved in her project - she’s always been my favorite female snowboarder. Last year we went on a couple of trips together - she was injured the whole season, which is why she actually came up with the project to still be around snowboarding and give back to the snowboard community - and it was pretty insane to be on a trip with her. Someone I’ve always watched in videos and stuff, it’s so cool what she does and to get a chance to be on trips with her and do the same stuff is actually pretty insane.
"So he calls up the owner and he shows up and he’s super chilled. He’s like “Dude, these are just two girls filming some snowboarding, it’s fine, let them go""
How do you motivate yourself to learn new tricks?
For me it’s all about filming on the streets so I always wanna learn new tricks just so I can go and film them on the streets in winter. I kinda just want to film a really good video part. That makes me wanna learn more tricks and stuff and it’s just really fun to see where you can take yourself.
What are your thoughts on female snowboarding crews?
I think it’s really cool when girls form crews and try to film together! There aren’t actually that many female crews besides from Too Hard and now The Uninvited Project. Too Hard used to be more popular earlier on, because now some Too Hard girls are actually The Uninvited so it’s basically the same group of people forming different crews so the riders are pretty much the same with a few additions. But I think it shouldn’t just be that girls form all-girls crews and guys all-guys crews. We’re all snowboarding, I think that gender shouldn’t matter to be part of a crew.
What about Instagram in snowboarding?
I think it’s really annoying [laughs]. Like these days when it comes to sponsorships and stuff, e.g. a girl with a bunch of Instagram followers and not that big snowboarding skills, she’s more likely to get all the deals than someone who can actually snowboard better but doesn’t have the following, you know? I was just talking about this with one of the photographers and it’s a really annoying issue, I think. I get it, it’s free advertising for the brands, you know, it’s just smart for them to get someone with a bunch of followers, but it’s a tricky one. I guess I just need to get more Instagram followers [laughs].
So who’s got your back?
Vans, Dinosaurs Will Die, Union Bindings.
And they took you onboard without having a million followers?
Yeah [laughs], Dinosaurs have been supporting me for a few years now, even before Instagram was super cool.
Is that the same for male and female riders?
I don’t know, I guess it’s easier for girls. Just put up a couple a couple of bikini shots and then you got the followers [laughs].
What’s your favorite video part of all time?
I really liked Jed Anderson’s Crazy Loco. But these days there’s so many video parts coming out, and just a lot of content in general. It’s hard to say what’s my favourite! I thought that Vans’ Landline was sick!
You’re the only Euro on The Uninvited, does that make any difference?
I don’t know that many girls in Europe who’d wanna go and film a video part, but in the States it's way different. There’s a bunch of motivated girls who are down to put some effort in and travel to film a part. I’m not talking about contests because I don’t follow any so I don’t really know what’s going on in that world. Speaking about riding street, I think girls in the States are better snowboarders than in Europe.
What’s it like riding with them?
When I first went to Bear, that’s when I first saw girls snowboarding really good. I was really impressed. I’ve been going back to the States almost every winter and whenever I snowboard there and see girls ride really good it really motivates me to snowboard more and try more stuff, different tricks. You see girls riding at a really good level. I love it there, well firstly it’s always nice and sunny [laughs]. I’m talking about Bear, Mammoth or Brighton right now. I guess that’s the thing: when you get to snowboard in the sun in slushy snow the whole time I honestly think that itself makes you a better snowboarder because it doesn’t hurt to fall. It’s way more comfortable to snowboard, you don’t have to wear all the clothes that you have to wear for example in the alps in winter, where everything is always icy and when you fall you always get hurt. Over there it's just nice and slushy, if you fall it doesn’t even hurt. I think it's way easier to progress there as well.
"In the States it's way different. There’s a bunch of motivated girls who are down to put some effort in and travel to film a part"
There’s obviously a bunch of really good snowboarders in Europe, but since I don’t snowboard around the Alps area then I don’t really know what goes on there. I’ve been snowboarding mainly either in the States or indoors so I don’t actually know who’s out there. I didn’t wanna sound like everything is way better in America [laughs]. I mostly ride with the American riders so it's difficult for me to judge. It just seems to me that in the States, there’s more initiative to ride streets and film among girls.
Three things people didn’t know about you...
1. I’m a vegan
2. I have super small feet, haha. EU 35.5. But it’s nice, I can wear kids' shoes too.
3. I love cats
What’s your perfect riding day like and with whom?
I guess my favourite person to snowboard with is Alexa McCarty - she’s from Salt Lake City - and Veronici Hansen who I ride indoor with. My perfect day is when you go outside, you’re on a trip, it's just snowed, the snow is super nice and fluffy, it packs really well and you don’t have to do any ice chipping, you can set everything up super nice and quick and they haven’t ploughed yet so there’s snow everywhere, super easy setting up, nice and soft - that’s the best. Or just nice sunny park laps at Bear!
Any last shout-outs?
Thanks for the interview, I wanna give a shout-out to everyone who helped me with filming last year, shovelling etc. And obviously to my sponsors: Vans, Dinosaurs and Union and a shout out to Postland Theory and The Uninvited!
What’s up for you next?
Gonna get on my flight to Quebec and film my video part [laughs].