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Eero Ettala Interview

By Giacomo Margutti

Powered Nitro & Oakley.

We interviewed Eero Ettala, Finnish professional snowboarder and athlete for Nitro and Oakley.

How much do you miss snowboarding in quarantine?
I do miss it a lot, almost the whole season I was just waiting for spring time to go ride with my friends. I had some cool plans, I was supposed to go to Utah for a Skullcandy commercial shoot, then straight from there to Mammoth and from there on an Oakley week, then come back home for a RedBull event called RedBull Hammers with Homies.
I was supposed to host its Finland section and then go with the winning team in Livigno. Then to Lofoten with Nitro again at the end of the season. Now all that got canceled and it really hurts, but at the same time everybody is in the same situation and there’s nothing we can do about it. But it’s one of the season in a long time that after riding really hard for 5-6 months I was really ready for summer. But now I’m already really waiting for next winter again.


What is the project behind Hammers with Homies?
It’s an open competition for everybody, the age limit was 15.
There’s one contest in Austria, one in Norway, one in Finland and maybe somewhere else as well, and each winning team from different countries go to the final stage that was supposed to be in Livigno. It’s a team contest, you pick your own team and all riders drop in at the same time. It’s not about who does the craziest trick but about who has the best flow. So I was really looking for it, I was already helping out the resort with the planning and designing the park but the everything got closed and canceled.


You mentioned Livigno, when was the last time you rode there? Was it for the birth of the European Open back in the days?
I guess it was 2003, more than 17 years ago. It was really fun, I think I was drunk most of the time! Last time I was in Livigno I think I actually broke my collarbone because while I was riding I hit one of the jumps and landed on my shoulders and broke my collarbone. It is kind of a bad memory because it was my own fault.

I saw one of your clip on instagram where you were riding with shorts, how was it? And how was crashing in shorts?
I actually had a crash and landed on my face and hurt my leg. I thought it was supposed to be crazier riding in shorts while it was actually pretty nice but you definitely need a sunny warm day. It’s not I’m gonna start riding in shorts but it was fun for one day.


What is your favorite trick and the trick you’re most proud of?
My favorite trick to do would be something really simple like a backside 180 or switchback 180 on a jump or a frontside boardslide backflip on the handrail. While the trick I’m most proud of is the double backside rodeo 1080 that I landed in the Follow Me Around movie in 2006. For my career that was one of the most groundbreaking moment I think.


Do you have any tips on the backside rodeo?
I think first of all just learn how to do a back foot on a trampoline, that will going to help a lot because you learn the rear rotation and the air awareness. Anyway once you go for it, really commit 100%.


If you could do one trick and one trick only, what would it be?
I think it would be either a frontside boardslide or a backside 180. Those are the tricks that have the best flows and the best feelings. I could just spend the whole day doing front boards and I would still have fun.


And a trick you still wanna learn?
There a definitely a lot of tricks I wanna learn but I feel I’m too old to try to learn hard and really technical tricks. Nowadays I would like to learn rail stuff. This past season I’ve been concentrating on trying rail tricks, I would be stoked to learn the switch backside properly and be able to do it constantly. I’ve done it and filmed it before but it’s not something I just go cruising on a hill and do it.


What’s your all time favorite video part and why? Of yourself and of somebody else?
I think maybe my fav own video part would be the Follow Me Around part that I was just talking about, that was kind of the part that really put me on a map and I also got awarded for the Video Part of the Year by Snowboard Magazine, so that was a big year for me. While the most iconic video parts from someone else are Jussi Oksanen part from TB10, Peter line’s part in Simple Pleasure which was also really amazing and of course JP Walker and Jeremy Jones in The Resistance. There are so many good riders that I used to look up to.

Favorite spot to ride?
I would say my local resort, Talma, but I could ride anywhere if I’m able to do it with my friends. I don’t need much, good friends, good vibes and a couple of jumps and I’m already good. Talma is a good place for me, learning new tricks and riding with my homies are always the most memorable times of the season.


How did you enjoy filming your Offline part in Czech Republic and is there anything that surprised you?
It was really fun because I’m used to film stuff at home in Finland so it was kind of refreshing for me to go somewhere else. I usually try to plan everything so much ahead but sometimes it’s nice just going to check and not knowing anything about spots, just driving around and end up finding something. That was really a cool and exciting trip but at the same time we were pretty unlucky with the weather, we were staying in Liberec but all the snow was all pretty gone so every morning we drove to Jablonec for 20 minutes to find more snow. There was a bunch of spots in Liberec we wanted to hit but it was impossible. That project was really fun and we found some really cool spots.


What’s the first thing you’re going to do after the quarantine and where are you planning to go?
I haven’t really made any plans yet for summer shredding or stuff like that because it’s kind of hard to know when this thing is going to be over. As for now, I’m just trying to stay home and stay healthy with a lot of cycling, swimming and skating. There’s also a little indoor snowboard place back home in Finland 7-8 hours drive from Helsinki, so I might go there for a few days to shred a little bit but I’m taking it pretty easy staying home with my wife and enjoying summer together.


What do you find most difficult: surfing, snowboarding or skating?
Definitely surfing, I suck at that but I haven’t invested too much time in trying to figure it out but also skating is really hard compared to snowboarding where the board is attached to your feet. In skateboarding you really need the technique to do tricks. I would almost say that maybe skating is the hardest but at the same time I’m not so good at surfing.


How did you feel when you got your first pro model board?
I thought it was amazing. I was still real young at that time, I got the board in 2006 so I was just 20 years old and it definitely felt freaking weird seeing your own name on a board and getting to design something, but at the same time it’s pretty hard when they give you the freedom of doing that because you have so many ideas and you only have to stick to one. I was young and stupid so I decided to put burgers, fries and coke on my first board but I think it’s pretty funny looking back to it though. I probably wouldn’t do it again but at the same time it was my first pro model 14 years ago and it will be almost cool to make a remake for an auction.


Talking about burgers, what is your favorite burger ingredients?
To be honest I love spicy burgers, if there’s chilli or jalapeño I’m always sold. I like raw onion, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo and then of course the burger meat, that’s all you need. But at the same time my wife and I have been trying to eat a little more vegetarian lately so I tried some vegetarian burgers which are really good as well.


What is your favorite between your pro models?
I think that the most iconic ones are the first two: the burger one and the cut up animals one with animals cut in half like sushi rolls. Then the very last one that came out in 2016 that had the northern lights printed in the middle came out pretty nice as well, so maybe those 3 are my favs.

Your favorite board length and stance?
So many people asked me about my stance and I never know, I just look at the board and set up my stance depending on what looks reasonable. So every time people ask me about my stance but I have no idea.


What was your worst crash?
Maybe the most painful crashes were the ones where I fucked up my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) on my knee and that already happened 3 times! But maybe those didn’t looked as bad as the one I did in Iceland in 2014. I was hitting this high rail and hooked my heel on the rail and just flew for 4-5 meters and basically landed on concrete. I saw stars for a while but after that I was kind of fine, I was already riding the next day. That was maybe the crash that ended up the worst because if I’d landed a bit more on my head I could have tweak my neck.


Any tips on offseason practice?
I think anything that keeps you active, I’m trying to switch as much as possible, I’m going to gym a little bit trying to keep my body fit, then cycling for cardio, playing badminton and squash, etc but of course I think skateboarding or something similar to snowboarding would help a lot. I’ve never had a real training routine during summer, I would always just enjoying doing sports.


Which is the best rider you had the pleasure to ride with?
I would say Heikke Sorsa, he was so naturally gifted and I’ve always felt amazed and honoured to be able to see him riding. I was fortunate enough to be able to ride with him for the past 15 years, he’s a good homies and one of the most talented snowboarder I’ve ever met.


Who is the best young gun for you nowadays?
I would have to say Rene Rinnekangas, he’s amazing. I’ve been able to ride with him a little bit because he’s on the Oakley team and comes from Finland as well, actually from the same town as my wife so I met him last Christmas and helped him out a little bit. He’s a huge talent and he’s going to have a bright future for sure.


When did you understand you had the chance to become a pro?
I think that just happened, I was always competing while growing up with a bunch of other guys, riding in the same resort and we all got sponsored at the same time but I think it happened in 1999. I was in France for the Junior Halfpipe Contest and I met the Oakley team manager, he gave me a few goggles, I sent him an email when I got home and he proposed me a little contract and that’s how all started. I was always enjoying riding and doing it for myself, trying to get discounts or free products but I never thought I was able to become a pro until that time. Then the next year Nitro started sponsor me into some video parts. It just happened, I didn’t had crazy expectations, I wasn’t forcing it, it was just natural.

Is there anything you regret having done?
I don’t really have any regrets about my snowboarding career, it lasted way longer I’ve ever expected, I just feel really fortunate to have been able to live this lifestyle as long as I have. But at the same time I would give a tip to a younger Eero: just do stuff when you feel like it. Sometimes I pushed a little too hard, doing stuff even if I wasn’t feeling it because I felt the pressure that I had to do it. But if you’re feeling confident and stoked about doing something then everything will work out well, instead if you start to feel a little bit unsure there’s a high risk that something will go wrong. When you’re young something you just feel you have to do everything, you have to be at every contest or event while it’s also nice to give yourself a little peace and freedom from time to time.


Where do you feel the most pressure between contests or filming video parts?
I used to feel a lot more pressure about filming in 60 mm film but nowadays with memory cards and filming digital I don’t really feel sorry if filmers have to wait a bit longer to get the shot. Give the athlete that time to feel a little more confident is important.
But for sure I was always more stressed about contests. I’m a competitive person and I’ve always enjoying it but competing made me felt really nervous. I grew up riding and competing with guys of my age and then suddenly understood everyone was 20 years older and I was already 30 so it kind of felt I didn’t belong there anymore, I wasn’t having that much fun anymore. So when you’re not getting the podium anymore it doesn’t make so much sense travelling the world to compete. In 2013 I decided to concentrate on filming and enjoying the last season of my career.


Best win?
Winning the X-Games XIV was definitely the highlight. It kind of happened at a good time of my career, I was filming movies and doing my own tv show but I wasn’t fully satisfied with my 2009 season. Then in 2010 I had my best competitive season.


There are very few riders in the world that have such a long career. What is the secret of riding for almost 20 years at an international level?
I think you have to be really pro active and have that driving force of doing your own things, trying to figure out what to do next and not to follow other people. Always re-inventing yourself.

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