When he wasn't snapping epic selfies or follow-camming homie Eric Willett at last week's GoPro Snowcamp in Laax, we fount the time to sit down with US ripper Sage Kotsenburg to chinwag about contests, style and why Halldor Helgason is a big influence on his approach to snowboarding...
I guess, seeing as they've fed us super well, that we should begin by talking about this GoPro Snowcamp...
Yeah, we've been in Laax for the GoPro camp and it's been crazy all week. Just super sick weather apart from one day, sunset shoots, the whole crew cruising together, it's been fun. Some of the guys and the chicks I don't usually get to hang out with so it's been fun to hang out with them and we've been filming each other and stuff, riding with each other and just getting to use the camera. I mean me and Eric [Willett] use the cameras like almost every day so me and him had a bunch of fun because it was just like another day, you know, and some people found out how to use them more. It was just a sick experience because it was the first thing like it; everyone got to goof around, get some sick shots too, we filmed a little - most of the time it's just you filming or taking photos of you or someone else so it makes it that much more personal. It's just so fun, you can make your own stuff like so easily. We used to use it like 4 or 5 years ago, when the first one was out or something, and it's come a long way. It's pretty rad.
I did good in some contests, got a bunch of shots – some shots for the movie – and now it's just about filming for edits and filming a lot with GoPro in the spring.
And I guess you've been hitting the contest pretty hard all winter. Is it a nice change for you to just come here and have it be a bit more chilled?
Yeah, my winter's been hectic too. I've also gone on a couple of trips with Nike for the movie they're doing, so it's been an insane winter for me. I haven't been home at all, I've been filming in between all the contests, but it's been the most fun I've had. It's kinda crazy, I mean I don't know how dudes like Lago for instance do it – he's been doing it for a while – it's certainly something I want to get into doing both [contests and filming] and it's pretty crazy. But it's been really sick to get to hang here and not be filming and stressing out for a movie part and doing contests and getting results. I did good in some contests, got a bunch of shots – some shots for the movie – and now it's just about filming for edits and filming a lot with GoPro in the spring. We're gonna be doing some stuff, so it's just been so nice to come here and film with the GoPro crew and just... It's been like vacation, you know? Euro X is done, there's pretty much like park shoots and stuff left so it's just all fun from here on out.
You mentioned edits. I was wondering about Lick The Cat that we've seen a bit of over here. What's that all about?
Lick The Cat is pretty much a bunch of dudes having fun, riding the park and this year it's been tough to film because everyone's been gone or got hurt so we've made two or three edits this year and normally we'd have like twice as many so far, so it's been tough to film this year but we're gonna go to Big Bear, get some Tahoe action, and some Park City for Spring Break The Movie II – it's just like a stupid 10 minute movie that we make just having fun snowboarding, we're gonna go to the beach, we're just gonna film it all and make a movie and people seem to like it and people seem to like our edits. It's just good fun.
I just think sometimes you need to chill out on just spinning and flipping with the same grab. Not even doing more spins but just doing the same spins that you've been doing for 5 years with the same grab... it's just so boring to watch for me.
The level of snowboarding is pretty mental right now. There's this small contest coming up in Sochi next year so how much gnarlier do you think it's going to get leading up to that?
This year it's been like a lot of kids have been, in between contest, going and learning tricks and learning triples and stuff – I put one to my feet but I haven't landed one yet so in the spring I'm definitely going to learn one, got a couple of shoots lined up just to learn some new tricks. For me all season in between contests I was filming so I wasn't trying any new tricks, I was learning about contests and stuff so it's been hectic – for other guys too but on my side it's just been so crazy all year and so it's going to be nice to sit back in the spring and learn triples and learn double 12s with different grabs because that's kinda like my style – just doing doubles and 12s and stuff with different grabs and not just doing tricks with like one grab which I think is so wack. I try to do like back double 10 Japans or front double 10 truckdriver, and I've got some other ones I want to start trying. It'll be fun to start doing that stuff and keep it creative instead of just adding more spins and flips, which I think is cool, I'm definitely down - I've done 1440s and stuff and I think it's rad - but I just think sometimes you need to chill out on just spinning and flipping with the same grab. Not even doing more spins but just doing the same spins that you've been doing for 5 years with the same grab... it's just so boring to watch for me. It's like if you're that good at snowboarding you should be trying different grabs and stuff making it entertaining to watch, I think.
I think that's part of why I hear a lot of people dissing contests or even where snowboarding's going because they think it's spin to win, looks ugly and they just want to see front 3s, Methods, back 5s...
Yeah, there's a balance somewhere in between. Obviously you have to spin and flip a ton to win a contest now but I do think there's a nice in between. Like if you did a couple double 10s and 12s with insane grabs... I think that should equal a triple for sure, if you did like a double 9, a double 10 and a triple it doesn't make sense that if you're mixing up crazy grabs and progressing it that way that should kind of equal out I think. I think it's rad that people... like Halldor is super sick, doing like the Lobster Flip and doing double barrel rolls and stuff. Judges give the double barrel roll no love just because it's not spinning...
Yeah, it's been kinda crazy. He didn't make the final at Freestyle.CH with it I think and we were all like “Whaat? No one's ever done that before!"
That's the second sickest trick I've seen Halldor do. The sickest is that super inverted front 3.
The front 3 RODEO?! He's so mad it's awesome, I guess that's where my inspiration for doing like different grabs with doubles kinda came from was from him doing crazy stuff. It's definitely rad.
When those little kids are my age then I'll let them do the progressing that we're doing now and they can chose the way that they want to do it, whether they want to do a pentacork 18000 or a double thing with a Rocket air, you know? [laughs]
Have you ever considered how gnarly it must be for the groms these days who have dreams of becoming pro snowboarders? I mean there's 13-year-olds doing triple corks...
I feel so bad for the kids! I feel so horrible for, not for where snowbarding's going, but for the kids that have to do what we're doing younger. Because when those kids are my age I'm going to be well into filming hopefully, I'll be out of contest you know? I'll be trying to just Cherokee fade at that point. When those little kids are my age then I'll let them do the progressing that we're doing now and they can chose the way that they want to do it, whether they want to do a pentacork 18000 or a double thing with a Rocket air, you know? [laughs]. I feel so bad for those kids because they're going to be doing the gnarliest stuff. It's cool to see though, those kids are killing it. I remember like watching people that I looked up to when I was young and trying to do the tricks that they were doing but I never even got close, and now those kids are having to look at what we're doing...
Who were those guys you looked up to?
When I was probably 12 to 13 it was like Danny Kass, Travis Parker a ton on the filming side, David Benedek – he was always crushing it, doing so many doubles and stuff and he was progressing crazy spins and corks and it was so rad to see, and the guys like Travis Parker and stuff were just cruising around killing it doing single cork back Rodeo 10s, which I think is almost probably gnarlier than a double cork rodeo 10. Those guys are pretty rad, I think.
Going back to what you touched on earlier. Do you enjoy doing contests? Or is it just a necessary thing you have to do to establish yourself?
I like contests a ton, It's what I grew up doing. I live off of... like if we're playing a contest here for who can get the best photo of the week I'm like 'man I hope I win that contest!' It's just cool to have something to aim for, but it's definitely not the end all for me. If I don't want to do contests any more then I'm gonna go film, but I love doing both. I think it's so rad if you can do both it's so sick because you can go film and do that stuff and then come back to a contest and kill it... I think it's like the sickest feeling.
Last question: how does it feel to be always asked how you feel about stuff?
[Laughs] It's interesting, because usually when people ask me that I feel like crap. Really sore, tired, jetlagged and I'm like 'Yeah, we're at this sick contest, it's so much fun,' when the course probably is like a sub-par Olympic qualifier event and I'm jetlagged from travelling and stuff and pretty much just putting a smile on my face. Yeah, it's pretty funny I guess [laughs]. Sometimes you make the best of being tired and sore, but it's what we do and I have so much fun being tired and sore [laughs].