Hometown: Akureyri, Iceland Age: 17 Sponsors: DC, Smith, Union bindings, Frontline
Eirikur (Eiki) Helgason
Hometown: Akureyri, Iceland Age: 21 Sponsors: Rome, Oakley, DVS, Skullcandy and Frontline
I was no more than three seconds away from sending a really nasty text-message to the Helgasons. It said “Did I frickin’ stutter when I said you should be online at 13.00 hours for the interview?" Being late for your own interview isn't very pro. Then it hit me. There is a time difference between Iceland and Sweden. Eirikur ‘Eiki’ and Halldór Helgason had for once got out of bed before noon, and I was about to give them hell for being late. You see, the lads have been spending so much time in Sweden in the last few years, learning Swedish at an incredible rate, that I’d completely forgotten about the fact that they don’t actually live here. At least not during the summer. If you have missed out on last year’s flick Up In The Sky by Factor Films or failed to notice the results of any Scandinavian rail competition, you might not be aware of the two brothers’ dominance. If that’s the case, here is our attempt at shining some light on the two shredders from Akureyri, Iceland, and the Icelandic snowboard scene.
The first question, and perhaps the one that everybody wants to ask with the number of riders coming out of your stomping grounds, is what's the snowboard scene like in Iceland? Eiki: The snowboard scene isn’t very good at all. We have some resorts but we don’t have any fancy snowboard parks or anything, so we grew up riding street rails. Halldor: There are no parks or anything, so if you want to do something you have to do it all yourself.
So you just got inspired by movies – or were there any other shredders before you guys? Eiki: There were other crews before we started because back in the day it was a huge trend and everybody was riding. When we started riding, people were over it because the resorts didn’t want to do anything for snowboarders, so we watched snowboarding movies and saw street rails and we got hooked right away. Halldor: We had some good riders in Iceland, so we looked up to them, but then we saw the movie The Resistance and saw JP Walker’s part and got mad stoked.
Was The Resistance your first snowboard movie? Eiki: Yeah, it was the first snowboard movie we saw.
Have you seen Stomping Grounds? Halldor: No. Eiki: Nope.
Oh my god! Are there actual resorts in Iceland? Eiki: We have about 7 resorts, but only one of them can stay open the whole winter and that’s the one in our hometown. Two years ago they bought snowmaking machines because the weather is getting too warm now, and there’s less and less snow every year. Halldor: We have many resorts in Iceland but most of them are small. The resort me and Eiki grew up in was Hlíðarfjall. It’s a sick resort and when there is a lot of snow it’s the funniest mountain ever to ride – so many natural hits.
How come there is a handful of riders coming out of Iceland all of a sudden? Eiki: We are just a group of friends that loved snowboarding and we were riding together almost every day in whatever weather conditions. We were out doing street rails even if it was a crazy snowstorm outside. Halldor: We had some riders that were really close to making it but then they got injured or were just over it.
How did you hear about the Swedish snowboard school? Eiki: Five years before we went, there were three Icelandic snowboarders there, and we heard about it. We asked them how it was and after that there was no doubt that that was the school we had to go to. Halldor: I went there because Eiki and two of our friends (Gulli Hólm Guðmundson and Viktor Helgi Hjartarson) went there, and I saw how fast they were progressing, so there was no doubt I would try to get in as soon as I was old enough.
I heard you progressed pretty fast when you first came there. How come? Eiki: I progressed a lot because I was riding a lot, I guess. It was the first time I saw a real park and it looked like heaven to me, so Gulli, Viktor and I were always the first up and last down. Halldor: I guess it was because we were used to things being super sketchy, and we had just been cruising around, building our own jumps for so long in Iceland. Then when we came to Sweden everything was perfect and it made everything so much easier!
How many years had you been snowboarding in Iceland before you headed over to Sweden? Eiki: 4 years. Halldor: 7 years in Iceland.
Did Eiki come back every now and then to Iceland and flaunt his new skills? Halldor: I had to go three years after Eiki, so I’ve only been in Malung for one year now. But every year when Eiki was in school I visited them for 10 days and just tried to kill the park and learn as many tricks as possible.
So are the Riks guys more serious about ‘making it’ than the guys at Locals? Eiki: No, it’s just more serious. They have training every day that they have to go to, and on the slopes they have to do what their coaches tell them. So Local for me was more what snowboarding is about.
I know Eiki speaks fluent Swedish, and Halldor is just pretending he doesn't. Has being tri-lingual helped you guys in any way? Halldor: I can speak perfect Swedish, it’s easy, and Norwegian as well. It gives you a bit of respect in school if you speak Swedish. And the teachers understand when you fuck something up. Eiki: It doesn’t really help me much but I think it’s good to know many languages.
When did you learn Swedish? Halldor: I didn’t know one word before I came to Sweden, so I just learned it by hanging out with Swedish people. Eiki: I pretty much heard Swedish for the first time when I went there, but we have to study Danish in Icelandic schools so that helped me understand Swedish right away.
So are you going to speak Swedish full time then this season, Halldor? Halldor: That’s my mission for next season: to speak it like a Swedish person.
Eiki, you just graduated. Are you going to stay in Sweden or are you going to put up headquarters somewhere else? Eiki: I think I will have Iceland as my base this winter and just be on the road filming and stuff the whole season. This year I’m gonna try to film one big part, not 3 like last year. It’s just too much. Last year I filmed for a part for the Rome movie No Correct Way, The Actionhorse movie Pony Tail and The Factor Films movie Notes. Halldor: This season I was filming with Actionhorse and Factor Films, and I’m maybe going to have some shots in the Transworld movie as well, so I’m stoked on this season!
And Halldor, I know just a few weeks back you were sort of in between sponsors, juggling a few around. What happened in the end? Halldor: I don’t know yet, we’ll see what happens at the end of all this sponsor stuff.
Do you find it hard work, dealing with sponsors, or is your brother helping you out? Halldor: It’s hard but it’s a part of snowboarding, and I have so many friends I can talk to and get help about sponsors and stuff, so it’s all good.
What was the worst thing about living in Malung? Eiki: The only thing that could be better is if there were more street rails close to Malung so we have to do trips to be able to hit good street rails. Halldor: There’s pretty much nothing bad about it. It’s a sick place for snowboarders to be: all you do there is snowboard, skate when there’s not snow, chill like a madman, hang at the pizzeria and do a little bit of school work.
From what I've understood, you guys don't have the best variety of meals in Malung. Eiki: We went to the pizzeria at least 5 days a week, and between pizzeria trips we ate candy. Halldor: It’s so nice. We are used to everything being so expensive in Iceland, so when we are in Sweden, the pizzas, cokes and candy are 50% off. It’s awesome. Eiki: It's more like the pizzas are 75% cheaper in Sweden.
Next season, when you guys are weighing in at 200kg, remember I told you so. Who's the best chef? Halldor: I would have to say me, of course. Eiki: No, me for sure.
What's your signature dish? Eiki: Omelette with ham, bacon, cheese with garlic butter on top, which is pretty much the only thing I can do that is good. Halldor: Microwave food. I was getting so good at those things, I didn’t even have to look at the package to see how long it is supposed to be in the microwave. I’ve just started to ‘feel’ how long it’s supposed to be in there, and it’s always perfect.
Wow. Eiki, you spent almost all season working on the Rome movie. What was that like? Eiki: It was my first time going to the States and I was filming real backcountry in Canada. I had a really good season, so I’m stoked!
I guess most people know you lads because of your rail-slaying, but both of you have been hucking a fair bit in the pow this year for different movies. How has that been? Eiki: Pow is fun and so different to park jumps: all the tricks that you think are safe tricks are not so safe in pow. I had a hard time in the beginning but started to get a hold of it in the end. I was also driving a snowmobile for the first time this year. But the hard thing with backcountry is playing the waiting game until the sun comes out. Halldor: It was nothing like doing street rails, that’s for sure, but it was a lot of fun. The only bad thing about it was all the hiking. Backcountry with a sled would probably be one of the funniest things ever.
Did you ever nail the 12-kinked (or whatever it was) Icelandic rail of death that we see you try in Up in the Sky? Eiki: We tried but no-one made it. This rail is so hard, but someone will make it some day. Halldor: It’s so steep that it’s hard to make it, but we’re going to keep trying it until someone makes it, I guess.
What's the worst thing about having a brother who snowboards? Eiki: The worst thing is if he makes something that’s better than I can, but it’s not because he's my brother, it’s because he's my little brother. But that just makes me push it harder, so I guess it’s a good thing. Halldor: I’m not sure there’s anything bad about it, it’s just good that we psyche each other up and we’re not like “don’t do it, you could get hurt". We’re not girls if you know what I mean.
What's the best part? Halldor: The best part about it is that we psyche each other up, I guess. Eiki: The best thing is that we always had someone to go ride with when we were starting snowboarding, and when we learn new tricks, we teach each other.
How often do you get to ride together these days? Eiki: Not as much as we used to but last season it was pretty much because we were both in Sweden. Halldor: We started this season off with riding together and filming for Actionhorse and Factor Films. Then Eiki went to the states to film with Rome, and I was just somewhere in Europe filming with Actionhorse and Factor Films all season.
What's the most insane thing your brother has done on a snowboard? Halldor: One of the sickest things he has done is the double backside rodeo 1080 melon in backcountry and the nollie hardway backside 180 to cab 270 to frontside board on a double down.
Holy smoke! Eiki: The sickest thing he has done is the 70-step double down 50-50, and the line with the backflip up the stairs and back down on the rail. Hanging out with the Helgasons, there have been quite a few occasions where you name tricks you want to get, and I know that some people around, including myself, have been thinking that you are kidding. Do you have any tricks you want to claim and shotgun for next year that we can laugh at now and then next year yet again be dumbstruck by when we discover that you weren’t kidding? Halldor. Ha ha, no it’s a secret. It’s way more fun when it’s a surprise. Eiki: Ha ha, I have some in mind but I don’t want to tell.
Damn, I wanna see the one we talked about in Nordmalis: 5050 to wallride to backside lip. BANG! Halldor: Yeah, that would be sick! Ha ha.
Which one of you would win in a game of fisticuffs? Eiki: That would be me.
You guys ever fight? Eiki: No, I’m not a fan of fighting. As I said, I’m not a competitive person. Halldor: I’m pretty sure I would win because I’m fit to fight. Eiki did, however, punch me in the face once, and I hit my head really hard on an iron poll, so the biggest Helgason knocked Eiki out and he was lying on the floor when we were home alone. Good times. Eiki: We had just gotten a boxing-glove kit, and we took it a bit too seriously one day.
Biggest Helgason? Halldor: Our oldest brother. Eiki: We are 4 brothers. They snowboard as well but just for fun.
So you are 4 brothers and you are saying you are not competitive? Anyway, let’s wrap this up with the shout-outs and big ups. Halldor: I’d like to thank DC, Smith, Union Bindings, Frontline, my family and friends. Eiki: Big ups to all my friends and thanks to all my family and sponsors.