Terje Haakonsen Interview

Matt Murray/Oakley

The man, the dude, Terje frickin' Haakonsen.

Fresh off the finish of the Oakley Arctic Challenge, the Haakon Faktor sat down with ESPN to talk about the event, what went right, what went wrong, as well as a few other topics, like why the Olympics are still wack in his mind and why Terje is for the kids. As always the godfather of shred was more than enlightening. So TAC is a wrap, how did you feel about the finals this year? Well, Matt (Ladley) rode really good the whole week, and also today, so it's a judgment call to say who won. Compared to the final last year when everyone was doing tech tricks at 6 meters plus, it was a little lower this year due to the conditions but I thought some guys handled it pretty well. On the upside, you just got certification from the mayor of Oslo for the greenness of this event so that's good right? Yeah. We always try to make it so that we don't throw away half the rig after the event is over. We recycle the whole production, we use hybrids or electric cars, and we do little things like printing on both sides of the paper. The food that's served has always been organic but now this year we have people checking up on us and making sure that we fulfill certain criteria. Now each year they will get more and more strict. You know there are so many concerts and festivals and these things cause a lot of waste, we are one of the few trying to do it differently.

Terje Haakonsen shows how the Arctic Challenge is going green... then breaks off his Enviro-Dance.

Is it you personally pushing the green progression? Or is it a Norway thing? It's really the people that work in the TAC organization. They also work at rock festivals and stuff trying to do the same thing. I did it in the beginning just for the trivial stuff and somebody actually liked what we did and was like 'yeah lets support it.' Then we just did more and more every year. We still have a long way to go I think. You know we have to hire a guard to watch the recycle and garbage cans? It's because people are so lazy that they don't event want to read the sign they just throw it into the trash. So you actually have to hire a guard for each trash can or else people will throw it anywhere. That's not efficient. Who are the next dope Norwegian groms?
Frode Sandbech/Oakley

Handplant on the beach in Norway, via rental car tow in.

Pål Sørensen. He didn't have a great final but he had good variation and solid amplitude during the week and in qualifications. I think him, also Ståle (Sandbech). He's still small but he's getting a little more meat on his body. Being a pro snowboarder now as compared to ten years ago—it's a lot of politics, it's pretty tough. You have to fight it out pretty good to last for a long time you know? I've seen some people come in and they don't really think ahead and they blow up and then they disappear because of a small injury. You know you're always gonna see movies where dudes huck off huge cliffs and land on their backs. Or they land flat and it's like that cliff is huge but f--k, it has such a flat landing...why would you even do that? So you have to ride with style and be a little smart about your riding. You can't just be a daredevil. Do you try to have a hands-on influence on the Norwegian kids? Actually I don't really try to but at this event I try to make them comfortable with the quarter. I try to tell them how to ride it and not to be intimidated by the speed. And actually if you go really slow on a quarter like this you'll usually land flat because you lean in so much. Small little things I try to tell them, I don't want to keep any secrets or whatever. We had some years that the conditions were bad, not exactly like this year, but one year it was really cold and we had a really bad shape in the transition and people were getting so compressed that it was really hard to go even 6 meters. Then we had two guys in the hospital with broken femurs, six cracked helmets and a broken wrist and that's not good [Laughs]. Have you gotten a lot of snowboarding in for fun this year?
Matt Murray/Oakley

Terje once again took the highest air at TAC, coming in hot at 6.5 meters.

Not a ton of it. Me and Mads, well Mads was here to compete. He goes huge on hips and he always says the quarter is a bit more technical than the hip, and it is because the margins are smaller of where you're gonna land, anyway he felt so comfortable here because the quarter was so good on the first day that he got so stoked he changed his ticket. He was supposed to leave Friday but he changed it until Sunday, came to the finals and got some solid airs in the morning and then a gnarly slam that broke his arm. I was supposed to go to Canada with him next week. Now Burton may say 'hey you can go with this other guy,' but I want to go with Mads. He put that whole trip up. He knows the terrain up there where we're going. He organized everything. Now I gotta go see him in the hospital. Think you'll still go? Well Mads was saying he's still gonna go right even before he was checked in to the hospital, but one week? Ride in a cast? Plus he gets to see me, like, twenty years older than him, nailing all the jumps? I don't think so. Are you still spending a lot of time on product board design? Yeah. Burton has always been focused on the hardgood products and mostly for me it's been about the powder boards, working together with JG (Burton Engineer). I also do a bit of bindings with Doyle and stuff. You know the footbeds and the canting and the padding. I do certain little adjustments, there's not too much that's gonna change now in the snowboarding industry. We can see now the banana board and the bubbly sidewalls but I think you just need a quiver for what you wanna ride. I always try to have a good powder board in the bag. You need at least three boards to cover most of the terrain you are going to ride. Are you working on any new shapes with JG right now? No we are just modifying the Fish and the Malalo and stuff. We have the camber now on the Limited Edition Fish. I've been riding that a lot.
Mark Kohlman

Terje's one-footer from the Red Bull Snowscrapers in NYC.

It's just really old school, the whole Olympic thing.

—Terje Haakonsen


Do you give a sh*t at all about the Olympics this time around? No. If you look at the big picture the Olympics are a great event for the whole world to watch on TV but behind the scenes it's all politics. In the snowboarding world, you still have a ski federation holding the sanctioned events and forcing snowboarders who really don't want to ride FIS events but do want to go to the Olympics, to do their events for the points. Plus you can only send four people per country. Some countries have eight or six and that should be sent and others shouldn't be able to send anyone because their guys wouldn't be able to win anywhere. It's just really old school, the whole Olympic thing. Then you look in the papers and its not about who really did good—it's about countries and how many medals they got. I think our generation has a little more interest in seeing the individual performer. You know my pro team has a few Norwegian guys and I know them pretty good and there are other guys from Finland, Switzerland and the States and I know them better than some guy from another pro team that just happens to be from Norway. It's nothing against him but he's a stranger from Norway, I'm not just naturally closer to him, you know what I mean? We don't sit around the lodge in groups from our own country in the same uniform; we hang out with who we have the same interests as because snowboarding is about the individual. A national team just doesn't make sense for snowboarding. The only sport I think where it's cool to have a national team is World Cup soccer. Like I said I think it's the older generation that has that pride to say 'f--k yeah, Norway took so many medals!' It's the medal hunt instead of individual performance.
Matt Murray/Oakley

The next, next generation: Terje's son, Teo.

You had your three year old son Teo shredding with you this week, do you want him to follow in your footsteps? I tried to get him to ski first but it was a no go. He wouldn't have it. With Teo I encourage him to do what he wants to. But you know if he wants to do the same as me of course I'm gonna like it. I think any dad would like it but I'm not gonna push him anywhere. I remember just trying to get my oldest kid surfing, he got knocked by a huge wave and it took him like three years to get out again. You can't force the kids, they just have to figure it out by themselves.

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