ntti Autti shined with his own light among a generation of Finish riders who swept off freestyle podiums at the beginning of the century. After a very successful contest career, having scored gold at the X-Games and a World Championship, he left competition behind to travel chasing the best snow conditions all over the planet, while producing his own films. These days, Antti is producing Arctic Lines, a web series about freeriding around the Polar Arctic Circle.
-Hey Antti! How is the season going? How are you coping with the complicated situation we are living in globally?
Hi, Season has been definitely very different. Actually the whole year has been quite a rollercoaster in many ways. When Covid-19 hit and everything stopped it was a shock at first but once things settled a bit I personally started to see a lot of opportunities in this situation also. It is a horrific thing what has happened to people’s health and some businesses but I honestly believe that at least from my own perspective this mandatory “STOP everything” was the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I had to re-evaluate many things in my life and in my career, this ultimately also led me to finally kick off the Arctic Lines series.
-When did you come up with the idea of creating a project such as Arctic Lines?
This was already a few years back when I was in Sweden stuck in the cabin during a snowstorm. Once the storm cleared and we got to ride some amazing lines in an area that is still so unexplored I started to realize the potential much better. You know in Finland we have this sort of obsession amongst freeriding scene that Lyngen,Norway is the place to be, and in many ways it is, but I’d like to look at things with a wider perspective and see the potential also in areas that might not actually be your go to spot for freeriding at first.
-What is your aim with this project? What is the message you wish to send?
I wish to showcase the playground here in the north and hope to share the word of sustainability and responsibility in freeriding. Meaning I want to show when I’m scared and why I’m riding so slow sometimes, I want it to be raw that way, you know not hiding behind the illusion of perfection because that is ultimately what will drive away from inventing things and seeing new areas. Also I want to open up the idea of treating powder snow just as one type of snow rather than the magical opportunity that you hunt. In my career I’ve been hunting powder for a long time with decisions that have been very unsustainable and that to me is part of the culture in snowboarding and especially in snowboard tourism. You know we market perfect powder days to people to go out and travel far away, and I’ve been part of this machinery also and many ways, still am, but I just think that with splitboarding and just moving in nature you will start appreciating different types of snow much more. This to me is a super important message in the project also. Respect what you have at that time.
-Considering the current mobility restrictions we are suffering globally due to the pandemic, you seem to have chosen the optimal moment to launch your project. It is the perfect moment to explore your own backyard, isn’t it?
Definitely that’s the case, but with restrictions this means travelling to Norway and Sweden also comes with much higher responsibility so what I’ve for example done now is to stay at home and ride in Finland because of the current situation of restrictions. As long as this situation is present, I’ve made the decision to not travel to these countries just for the sake of freeriding but I will go there if snow conditions line up and we have a chance to try to tick off a few lines of my list. You know in the past, I’d go to check conditions and come back home or stay for a long time but with Covid I won’t do that until things settle a bit more. But this situation has also opened up my eyes for freeride opportunities in Finland also and this is awesome because we actually do have some amazing terrain up here too!
-Over the past few years, you have had the chance to travel all over the planet searching for the best snow conditions for your films. However, Arctic Lines shows the very opposite: a minimum impact on a planet battered by human activity with dramatic consequences on the environment. Do you think this is the right path to follow for the snowboarding industry?
I think this is the way to go absolutely. My carbon footprint is massive. I’ve travelled the world for great experiences and opportunities that have more meaning but I’ve also been focusing just to enjoy myself to fill my own needs without thinking about the environmental side of things. Travelling far away to ride powder is one of these things. Meaning, I would use the resources just to satisfy my own need to feel good and I think this is not really the way to go in the future.
There are ways to do these types of things that will give more meaning to acts when I use the resources that impact the environment. So with that said, I think the snowboarding industry should absolutely support only sustainable solutions but this is not always so easy because businesses need to be kept running also but the main thing would be to set goals and talk about them. Once you set these goals to go fully sustainable the work can begin and you have something to aim for.
-30 lines in two years: which criteria did you follow to select them?
Well, criterias vary a lot. You know I could have chosen all the lines from Northern Norway but that in my mind would make the project very boring because of the obvious choices. So I’ve created my own categories which open up more opportunities to showcase the potential here. The categories are: Classic Couloirs, Finnish Lapland, Kilpisjärvi Area, Swedish Lapland, The Massifs, Aesthetics and Specials. Especially with the Special category I’m trying to showcase matters that are really cool and specific for one area, like the amount of snow or perhaps amazing features etc. Also this opens up the potential to do traverses also. Because big mountain lines are just one part of freeriding you know!
Also I must say that with the current covid restrictions the 2 year mission is going to be very challenging but I will try to do this because it will create a real challenge.
-We are aware of the complexity of scoring the best conditions in the Arctic Circle. Was it complicated to find the right timing with regards to meteorology? Has this been a major issue?
This is the biggest issue, Covid-19 is nothing compared to this. Finding a safe way to ride big lines here is definitely the most difficult task. We see a lot of facets in our snowpack and for now at least, this has also kept me and the crew chilling a lot because facets are the biggest problem, especially if we have a low tide snow year like this year. So for now I’ve been focusing a lot to tick off some easier lines while waiting for the snow to settle a bit more.
-What is it that motivates you to keep on enjoying the mountain season after season?
Just being there, seeing a new opportunity year after year, feeling the inspiration for a new project. Just to name few
-Splitboarding. For many of us, this has been the tool which saved our lives as snowboarders. What does splitboarding mean in your career?
To me it has opened my eyes to new terrain and new way to move and expand my skills as a rider. I’m no longer dictated by the lifts or motorised machinery. Splitboarding is the best thing that has happened to snowboarding for a very long time!
-What’s your current rig/ set-up?
For splitboarding, I ride Jones Snowboards: Ultracraft 156, Solution 161 and storm chaser 152. Sometimes I also use the Ultra Solution if needed for high speed riding.
For bindings: I ride Spark R&D Arc pro for more mellow and surfy terrain and Surge Pro when I hope to ride fast.
– Do you think there’s still room for improvement when it comes to gear, or have we reached the highest peak when it comes to equipment?
Oh there is always room for improvement, especially in splitboarding. this is a very engneering type of snowboard lifestyle and you will always find new ways to improve things. It can be as small as changing a new type of screw into a product which could ultimately make it more stable or better to ride.
-We are asking you this, in a way, because of the new hard boot hype. What’s your take on this debate?
I think hard boots are a good thing for the industry and open mindness for the sport. The debate in my opinion is useless. You use what you like and you use them for a purpose that fills your goals during the days you are out there. It is also hard for me to say how good they are for riding because I have not been testing them but for sure I’m thinking about doing that with aim to use them for long spring days in the mountains when you are moving a lot in ski mode and climbing.
If there is one thing that makes this a bit hard for consumers point of view it’s the price. For the best hardboots, you must invest a lot and still might have to modify them a lot. So for boots this is a big investment if you just go riding for a few weeks a year. But for a die hard splitboarder and mountain person this is a great add! Of course if they work, you might have a pair of boots for the rest of your life and then that is also a good call in the long term.
-Finally, which areas would you recommend to our readers eager to travel to the Arctic Circle on a splitboarding mission?
Well, Norway is easy to enjoy. Big mountains and awesome views. For the real experience in the highlands, I recommend Swedish Lapland. it’s more remote and has more opportunities to really feel the expedition feel! In Finland you will find rather fun days out in trees so pick your spot according to what you like!
Thanks a lot for your time Antti.
And we couldn’t agree more: Splitboarding is the best thing that has happened to snowboarding in a long time!
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