This summer and autumn I’ve spent a whole deal learning. Another winter season has begun and I’m doing something completely different. I broke my hand skateboarding the inside pool here in Helsinki just before the ski season kicked in properly. I’m not a great skater but I feel more eager to learn. Sitting by the wooden pool waiting for my turn, awing and admiring others who really have talent. All with their own distinct style, which is what makes skateboarding so true and raw. I feel like a beginner again, another sport which I suck at and that I guess is why I enjoy it so much. To be able to learn and feel myself develop every time I go and to look up and learn from others. It’s for sure been fun to find out something new again, haven’t had that feeling for awhile.
I’ve just spent a few days in Chamonix, meeting up with friends and taking care of some stuff, like getting my new skiboots fitted at the SOLE shop. (Without skiing because of my still healing hand). Being injured and focusing on other stuff like work, school and riding my boat, I’ve learned to enjoy other stuff in life. For me it’s about finding a balance. And now after a quick visit down, I feel the itch again to get back on the shredd. Another few weeks, a bit later than usual, I hope to be back in my kind of winter. Patience is my lesson right now…
Also I like to mention a new sponsor, which I am real proud of: FIM investment banking. They support athletes in different disciplines, like alpine skiing etc. and now freeskiing. I think it shows how our sport’s become more and more recognized in the world. Which is kind of a natural progress, since well, skiing’s so much fun…
So here I am in Laax, Graubunden eating an “Appfel” cake on the terrace, in my t-shirt. It’s warm today, super warm. The cake actually doesn’t taste of that much, sure it’s big and looks nice, but no taste…
Anyhow, a few years ago I had some real cool days in Disentis and Lenzerheide, and since then I wanted to come back and explore the mountains here in the eastern part of Switzerland. And a couple of days ago we set of eastward from Verbier with Raphaël. We’ve been looking at maps, trying to find pictures and planning some tours we wanted to do here before we came. Our plans have been so far to stay away from the resorts and go exploring the mountains by ourselves. But it’s been quite hard, since it got warm then cold then warm again. From scary wet snow to cardboard hell. Yesterday we finally got up to some really nice terrain. We drove our car as far as we could up this valley and left it in the small mountain village of St-Giusep (Sounds Italian but it’s not) from where we continued by foot. As we got up we were amazed with the scenery, it was stunning. We spotted some north facing couloirs, which looked quite awesome. But once we got up we found the snow not to be that good as expected. – Looks nice but doesn’t taste that good, a little bit like my apple cake here. But in the end it was for sure a nice day up the mountains, we got to explore, had the sun and skiing nice new terrain is always a joy, no matter what the snow quality. But that’s how freeriding in the mountain is, you never know what you gona get. And a long day it was, returning to the car at sundown. Pictures courtesy of Raphaël Bullet (except the self shots).
One of the great things about spending the winter here in Valais, Switzerland is the easy access I have to some of the small cozy ski resorts. The ones with only a few old lifts. The ones with a kind of home made feel about them, like the small resorts we have up in southern Finland, with these small wooden old-school cafeterias. The lift systems are maybe not the most advanced or comprehensive, but you still get a good deal of vertical, with interesting terrain and mostly no crowds.
So yesterday me and my friend Lauri thought to give Ovrannaz a try, a small resort close to Sion on the north side of the Rhone valley. We were hoping that they got more snow than us here in Verbier during the last little snow fall. So we drove over, Lauri arriving from Chamonix, first thing in the morning and headed up. It looked brown down in Sion but it got more snowy once we arrived higher up. When we got up we found most places to be really wind blown, but got to some good snow on the east faces. It was fun to explore a new place. Spotting lines from the lifts, hiking up and getting a few good soft flowy turns in.
I was somewhere in Munich on a busstop, heading out for dinner after a day at the ISPO, when I got the phone call. My friend Felix had passed away in an avalanche skiing at home in Chamonix. It didn’t feel real at first, like the present got sucked into this weird dream world in between fiction and reality. Now I’m on my way back to Chamonix, to share our thoughts and remember our great friend.
It is difficult to say in words how much I will miss him, the great moments in life we had together and the adventures we planned. The ideas we shared, the respect and support we had for each other. I’m glad we had it.
We planned and did a lot together and I always felt that we shared a lot of similar values, not only in the mountains but in my every day life as well. I love how we had common ideas about the trips we planned together, thinking how we could make it more interesting and which way to make them happen. Also how we could share ideas about skiing, gear designs, filming, whatever, or how we could sit for dinner and talk about anything, anything that came to mind. If it was sharing personal problems, a new skiable line on a mountain, criticizing a movie we saw or a journey to a different country far away. Felix was always interested in more than the riding and the mountains, which always made things so much more real, interesting and fun. It was never about letting anyone tell us where to go or what to do, but to find out our own way and do everything ourselves. He always had a plan and solution for everything. Nothing was a setback or a problem, rather a small obstacle that was interesting, challenging and fun. Even now I think he is watching on us, smiling like this is all part of his great big plan. Working out his next move.
Felix was always the one bringing people together, if it was a dinner party, an opening night or a new adventure somewhere, he was the one that saw that everyone was invited and felt at home. I met so many great people thanks to him, and that I can be more than thankful about.
He left us too early, but that was not for us to decide. Now I would like him to know that I spend some of my truly happy moments of my life with him, and those moments are what counts. We always felt it’s not the quantity of years that matters but the quality of them and how you pursue happiness during them. And Felix, as I know, died a happy man. Living exactly in the place he wanted, pursuing his passion, his girl, house, lifework and that is what matters and more than many others ever will have. And he always said, that if we go, at least we know we have lived a good life. In his own Felix tone: “ah you know… at least we had a good one…”.
These few sentences can not describe how grateful I am to have Felix as a friend. But he will always have a place in our hearts and live on in our memories, and that – I believe – is what heaven is truly about.
So I didn’t go skiing this summer, which I guess isn’t a great surprise since it is – well summer. Anyway some friends went off to spend time in South America and New Zealand following the year round snow. I stayed home working and doing other stuff and was kind of envious. But, it turned out to be good, I enjoyed the summer heat and got interested in other stuff and in the end maybe I learnt something I wouldn’t have in case I’d gone.
One of the things I’ve been doing more is skateboarding, (I skated at times as a teenager) wanting to learn to ride the mini (Although very hard and painful, yet ah so addictive). And seeing some really talented people, I have started to think of skateboarding in its most raw form as a reflection of a persons style, like a mirror to how one acts, the own values and how one sees the environment around. Style doesn’t only represent what your talent is in skateboarding, but it shows personality too. Seeing this I immediately wanted to think of how I see this style relation in freeride skiing (not talking about parkriding, where difference in style is evident). And the way I see it, skiing doesn’t seem to have so much “variation” in style. It’s so much about the “correct” technique, how to perfect a turn and all that, and the extra – call it – fun factor, which stands out in each individual is hidden away.
There are of course exceptions and what I enjoy watching in skiing is friends with peculiar styles, styles that stand out, who see things a bit differently from the others. You can do things “technically right”, ski the line in a rational way, jump the cliff at the obvious point and so on, but it’s not just that interesting. While the chase for the “hardest line”, biggest air and most complex trick is what is strived for, style is secondary and it shows. Who is the best skier.. who cares, well who then has the best style.. who cares about that either. What matters is the variety of styles and that, makes everything so much more interesting.
And why do I feel so strongly about this subject of personal style? I guess there is one explanation, my own personal lack of it… Last week I finally got back on my skis but in a wetsuit, to session the new waterramp they built in Jyväskylä. I want to try to open up more dimensions into my skiing, (since doing tricks of kickers has always been to me a sort of “stick to what you know” kind of thing) thus developing my own personal style. Thanks guys for the tricktips and a great session.
Well summer’s over and I’m heading back to the land of the baguette and home of the… erhm.. french, see you when you get there.
In mid May, I went up to northern Sweden to participate in the Scandinavian big mountain championships again. It’s one of the oldest freeride competitions and the level of skiing is really high. Three days of intense competing, after which they throw a big party which marks the end of the season for many.
The first day was a qualifying day, something like 140 riders (of which nearly 90 in of male skiers) of which about 40 % go on to the finals. I took a solid line which I felt comfortable with and went on to the next day.
On the second day I was quite nervous, the conditions where hard and icy and I hesitated how to make my turns to smoothly jump a small cliff in the middle of the venue.
On the third and final day, I felt like all tension was gone. I wasn’t really nervous and could focus on my line without any hesitation. That felt really good, and I hope to get into that state more often.
Here’s a video made by Mikko Jaakkola from the event. It shows all the finnish participants who entered the comp. Thanks guys it was hellofalotoffun.
Woah, so it feels like the seasons coming to an end here in Cham. The black crows ski brand is organizing an event called the black week end, which kind of suites the mood. Haven’t had time to post up something good recently. But here’s something special from my recent trip to Canada. Outi sent me these pictures just yesterday and I thought I’ll share some. So I was in Canada documenting and gathering film material for the Finnish outdoor tv-show MaxSport.tv. What a trip, great snow, good treeskiing and real fun places. Dave Heath took us out on his sail boat on Kootenay lake one day close to Nelson. We got to enjoy British Colombian nature at its best. Was cold though but nice.
Munich on the way back north. Juuso showed me this standing wave in the centre of town that was surfable. As the biggest wave in Munich, it was crowded, so we ended up going early on Monday morning. Our session ended up being quite short because after this, I broke one of the fins when the board slammed into the wall. After the day got super hot, so we ended up swimming in the river as well. The stream would take you through half of Munich if you would just float on and let it take you. (pictures by Jenni Fisk)
After the long winter season, sun, beach and surfing really feels like the right thing to do. We started our trip from Cap Breton in France and ended up driving further down the north coast of Spain. Zarautz, Playa de Somo and even as far as Galicia, beautiful.
Good conditions at the end of the season. Nearly first at the midi arrete, no crowds. And spring at the Argentiere hut.
I usually don’t ski in Grand Montets resort that often, because of the crowds (sometimes you need to book a top bin in advance, otherwise forget it…), and the lift access skiing there doesn’t have that many possibilities. A few days in May before closing day where really memorable though, maybe like 20 good skiers/friends, rain in the valley snow on top. buhaa.