The Iceland Winter Games went down last week and saw Team Euro (Antti Autti, Levi Luggen and filmer Teemu Lahtinen) battle it out against Team USA (Scotty Lago, Greg Bretz and filmer Rich Goodwin) in the video contest to end all video contests!
We managed to catch up with them both during the week to pick their brains about all things Iceland, the two teams, the challenges of filming an edit in a new country in just one week, how they scoped out the spots they did and a whole lot more. Check out the double interview and watch both team edits below. Although Team Euro was crowned the official winner by the panel of judges, we'd saw it was a pretty close call as to who's edit was the best, either way they made us really want to get back out to Iceland to explore the scenery and terrain without the time restrictions they had.
Don't forget you can still vote on which team's edit was your favourite and be in with a chance of winning a trip to Iceland when you do. So vote here!
Have you guys been to Iceland before?
Scotty Lago: Nope, its my first time to Iceland, but I’ve seen a lot of photos from friends earlier and I was really stoked to come and see it myself.
Antti Autti: Never been in Iceland before, so it's been pretty rad to get to come here.
What do you like about it?
A: Well the atmosphere and attitude is pretty unique and for snowboarding it really is an undiscovered area. We have been here for only a week and seen so much cool terrain. I feel like we have just been scratching the surface… I definitely want to come back for a month and get some proper filming done.
S: I love the uniqueness of the country, doing top to bottom runs all the way to the has been pretty amazing.. Its a really extreme climate here, but we got lucky this week with some really good snow and bluebird weather. Wind was teasing us a bit, but nothing we couldn’t manage.
What makes it different snowboarding here than anywhere else?
A: I guess the biggest difference is that there isn’t any tree line. So on a cloudy day it's challenging to find places where you can see. It's kind of like AK and New Zealand in lots of ways. On a down day there’s a lot of things to see and experience. Then when the weather is good the riding is fully on, its proper here.
team euro edit
What’s the best thing about Iceland?
S: Its really untapped terrain here and if feels like you are doing a lot of the lines for the first time, there hasn’t been other crews filming here so it does make it feel extra special to get to film here.
A: Mountains are amazing here. I haven’t really seen any footage from here before, so I didn’t fully know what to expect in terms of riding, but the week over here has really blown my mind. The terrain is so vast and options are pretty much limitless. Definitely worth coming over to film for a longer time. Once the weather is good it's magical.
You used to be teammates, now you’re competing against each other - has there always a bit of rivalry between you or have you always been friends? Are you stoked to ride together again?
S: I’m really happy to battle it out with Antti, we haven’t really seen each other in few years, but we basically picked up where we left the last time. He’s a tough opponent with his experience, skills and motivation. Its going to be a tough battle. Its curious to see what those guys have filmed.
What comes to rivalry, there really isn’t any. Snowboarding is beautiful like that, everyone wants to ride their best, but I’m stoked to see when others are riding well too you know. There’s a lot of support around. All I care is to get better and do my best. For the film contest we were joking a lot about staying away from my spots etc. It was kind of like a race to spots sometimes. [Laughs]
A: I wouldn’t say there’s ever been any rivalry between us. We are friends and that’s about it. Of course in a competition we are out there to win it hahaha. I’ve always looked up to Scotty, he’s an amazing rider and can really do things that impress people. You know when conditions are good everybody can throw down, but when it's tricky conditions Scotty always seemed to have an extra ace up his sleeve and we were just looking at him riding thinking can you really do that… [Laughs] I really enjoy watching him ride. Its cool to see that we can still do our own thing and keep riding professionally. Its super fun that an event like this can bring us back together and battle it out in a completely different environment. Results don’t really matter for us, of course we want to win, but at the same time it's been more of a get together with amazing opportunities to shred around amazing mountains.
Tell us both about your teammates and what they will be able to bring to the comp.
S: Me and Greg are on the same page, we are good friends and known each other for many years. Also our riding style is similar and we like doing similar things. Its really important to have the same mind set with your riding partner. With Greg its all good.
A: Levi fits perfectly into our crew, he has the same mindset as me and Teemu so working with him has been super easy. He’s a really strong rider and you can really see that he has been growing up near Saas Fee and been riding in the Alps all his life. He’s mellow and knows what he is doing. I kind of feel he’s underrated as a rider, he has really impressed me this week with the way he rides and acts in the mountains. We are already talking about doing another trip together…
TEAM USA EDIT
Have you worked with your filmers before? Are you stoked on them?
A: I’ve been working with Teemu a lot since 2010 and even earlier. He has captured my best moments in the mountains and he’s really pushing my riding forward. He knows how to push the right buttons and suggest things that I might have otherwise missed. Teemu is also a machine in the mountains. Never complains, he’s ready to hike and always has a great eye for the shots. He’s a real pro. You can check his work out at www.northlightpictures.com
S: Yeah, me and Rich Goodwin have been filming a lot together. Last year we did like 65 Instagram edits together. Travelling all over and having good times. I really like working with him. He’s laidback and easy to work with, but he’s also a great critic of my riding. He wont have any filter saying if something was cool or lame, so that keeps me in check and I trust his opinion.
How have you guys approached this contest? How did you (or plan to) look for spots? Did you have different tactics?
S: The film contest had pretty specific rules on it in terms of what is important to cover in the edit, so we just went out to figure those out and make sure we have everything we need to have a good overall edit. Each day was different so it was hard to know what to expect. Getting towed with sleds to approaching a spot with a boat is way different, so it was always a bit of a mystery what we were going to find. A lot of curve balls had to be dealt with and adjusting had to be done during the week.
A: We spoke with Teemu and Levi what we would like to achieve and spent a bunch of time looking at photos online, checking maps and all the basic preparations. It helps a lot, but in the end you have to see it live to really get a proper understanding of the terrain. It was great to work with different tour operations and have their knowledge and insight from the spots. Making those contacts is really valuable for us when we come back to film here and it will definitely be a massive asset for the future.
Let’s talk about the spots you’ve hit. Where have you filmed? What were the best features you found?
A: We filmed mainly high Alpine all week. First day we hiked around the ski resort in Akureyri and got a good sense of the snowpack. Then we went riding with Amazing Mountain snowmobile guys, who took us into the backcountry of Olafsfjordur. We found this amazing bowl that we kept hitting for a half a day. From there we probably have the best footage of the the trip or even the whole season. Light and snow conditions were unreal. After that we hopped on board of Arctic Freeride Cat operator and found some line’s around there. The next morning we went sledding again and finished the day of with the Arctic Heli skiing guys. Really long and productive days.
We did have one down day when we ended up hitting some natural baths, bubbling mud fields and of course the lava formations of Dimmu Borgir was epic. hahah. Those who know Black Metal can appreciate that. [Laughs]
We are definitely leaving home with a long list of spots still to be hit. Rumours tell that there’s some spines to be found, so I definitely want to come up here again to hit those places. We had a quite high avalanche risk all week so we had to take it easy in a lot of places.
S: Well it was pretty sketchy avalanche conditions out there with multiple layers and wind stacked faces. Quite a few spots that we wanted to hit ended up being no go zones due to the risks. Our heli guide Einar kept us safe, but there was a lot of spots we would of wanted to hit..
During the trip me and Greg got off ground only once which is very rare for us as that’s usually all we do out in the backcountry, that’s our strong point for sure, so we had to adjust our riding a lot. We did some fast big mountain lines and it was really fun, but it's definitely something me and Greg aren’t really experienced at. It was good to get some of that under our belts.
Any complications with filming this week?
S: Every day! Filming a snowboard part is a tricky business. There’s so many variables in it. I might be a bit too optimistic on how much we can get done and its hard to realisation to see that the footage just doesn’t rack up by itself.. I came with high expectations that we will bag a lot of stuff, but hitting new spots is hard and time consuming. We basically got 3 days of riding. Dealing with weather is always a gamble, access to terrain isn’t easy and snow and light conditions vary all the time. For us the biggest issue was being in the right place in the right time. Moving in deep snow isn’t easy or fast..
A: Not really anything big. It would have helped though a lot to have a proper guide who is ready to hike and show the best places for us from day one, that would have saved us a lot of time. First two days we more or less explored for two days and on the third we really went for it and got some bangers. But it is also satisfying to find places for yourself, so it was all good. I definitely had fun!