Words: Yalda Walter
Over the past two seasons, Kevin Bäckström and Tor Lundström have been lighting up the internet with their web series charting their travels through the mountains and parties of the planet
Things aren’t always what they appear to be. Take growing up for example – you really want to become an adult, taken seriously and given responsibilities, but when the time comes and you’re set to take care of actual life stuff yourself, shit hits the fan. Fuck that guy, Tax, he always bags most of your salary, right?
Sometimes, this also applies to your favourite snowboarders. When you see half-naked chicks, champagne being sprayed around and two guys chilling in what seems to be the world’s most epic bachelor pad, it you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve unwittingly stumbled onto reality TV rather than professional snowboarding. Yet still, whenever it’s time for yet another episode of BYNDxMDLS, that intro and most importantly, what comes after it, casts a spell over kids across the globe. Once you scratch the surface, it’s all about rolling everything awesome about snowboarding into one.
Although Kevin and Tor themselves couldn’t put down their fingers on what exactly makes their web series so appealing to the masses, it does go deeper than the simple concept of mixing together snowboarding, hooters and music. Whereas snowboarding used to be the epitome of a rebellious, cool lifestyle – banned from resorts and practiced by a bunch of deadbeats who do nothing but ride, party and hang out – it has become, well, more sanitized over the years. The contest scene has grown to be one of the key elements of professional snowboarding and with that come coaches, training and schedules.
Neither of this is what Kevin and Tor set out to fill their days with, and that’s just what comes across watching their web series. “We grew up watching our idols in the big contests, but they also filmed for snowboard videos. Today it seems like there is so much importance placed on the contests that kids forget why we are even doing this. We just want to show people that you can still do both, have fun with your friends, and make it as a snowboarder,” explains Kevin.
The story of how these two partners in carnage met is no extraordinary one, rather a commonplace Scandi way these days: at NTG Geilo, the Norwegian snowboard school and talent factory that brought through some of the world’s elite riders like Ståle Sandbech and Alek Østreng. At 15-years-old, they started hanging out and riding together and instantly had the vibe going, so they decided to live together shortly afterwards. From then on, the deal was pretty much sealed: “Ever since then we’ve been living together and sharing the most in life,” says Tor.
Hanging out together when you’re living life as a professional snowboarder doesn’t always come easily, though. Different sponsors also means there’s different schedules. What crew to film with, what contests to do or which events to attend varies, and certain obligations have to be fulfilled. It’s always easier to cling to an existing crew to film, but Kevin and Tor decided to take it one step further and get creative themselves, as Tor explains: “We really like to ride with each other so we figured we’ll build something on our own instead.”
Contrary to what the title of their series might suggest, both were still on the Swedish national team trying to make it to the Olympics when they started it all out – the show was planned to follow the boys on their road to Sochi. It was a friend of their filmer, Ryan Scardigli, who gave them inspiration for the explicit title. On Facebook he posted an Oakley video featuring Shaun White, that was called “Beyond Reason” and retitled it “Beyond Medals”. Kevin and Tor found that it described what they set out to portray in their project perfectly, and thus was the name for their web series set.
OFF THE TEAM
If you compete in the name of a country and get your paychecks out of the taxpayer’s pockets, though, you’ll inevitably found yourself bound by certain rules and guidelines that have to be fulfilled – even in a discipline like snowboarding, which is more known for its loose ways rather than for excellent gentlemanly behaviour. At one point, Kevin experienced this first hand when the Swedish press blew up a shitstorm over his ‘attitude towards women’ that stemmed from his Instagram feed: infamously a couple of strip club visits and several girls’ butts with Kevin’s initials drawn on them. Eventually this lead to the decision to boot him off the Swedish national team and thus crushing his chance to take part at the Winter Olympics in Sochi the following year.
Having witnessed how his friend was ripped apart by the press and dropped by the team, Tor decided staying on it wasn’t worth it, and left voluntarily. That was the point when they gave BYNDxMDLS a facelift and switched things up, as Tor states: “After Kevin got kicked and I left the Swedish national team, we changed the focus to our lives on the road. It was never about winning for us… As long as we can do some kind of snowboarding, we are happy.”
When watching the first two seasons, you’re undoubtedly left with the impression that these dudes aren’t touring the globe to bag as many trophies as possible, but rather to make the absolute most of travelling and shredding together. What you won’t find in there is heavy training, overbearing coaches or tight timetables but rather two guys cruising parks, powder and the streets with their homies while having the times of their lives. Which is something everyone can relate to.