Norwegian freeskier PK Hunder has had a rough couple of seasons, with plaguing injuries or unlucky contests that have kept him off the podium in slopestyle and big air. But in early April, Hunder proved that he's still got what it takes when he won the Jon Olsson Invitational big air contest, a grand finale to his winter season. We spoke to 24-year-old Hunder, who lives in Oslo, Norway, when he's not traveling the world, about his summer plans, playing golf, and why injuries can be haunting.
XGames.com: Congrats on winning the Jon Olsson Invitational.
Hunder: That was the highlight of my season. It's been a decent season with a lot of top 10s in contests, but you always want to do better. I haven't put down the run I wanted to in finals and that's been frustrating. So getting that win was really a relief.
What have the last few years been like for you?
I've had a couple of rough years with injuries. I injured myself right when it began to take off with doubles and all of those crazy tricks. So I've had to play catch up. I haven't had many podiums these past couple of years. This fall, I injured my knee and I wasn't sure if I needed surgery or if I'd be out all season. So I've been skiing kind of with the breaks on, just playing it safe and trying to get World Cup points to make it to the Olympics.
Do you come back from those injuries feeling stronger? Or how do they affect you mentally?
If you look at each injury, it isn't too bad. When I broke my neck, I broke it in April and I was skiing again in December. But the last couple of years, I've been injured, then I rehab and get back on skis, and then I hurt myself and I'm out again. I haven't gotten to ski as much as I'm used to. It can take up to a month after you're back on skis to get really comfortable again. You're obviously not going to go to the mountain after an injury and throw your biggest trick. You do a 360 and see how that feels. Then you try a 540. The small injuries—the ankle tweaks and things like that—can really haunt you.
How are you feeling heading into the Olympic debut of freeskiing?
I'm trying not to think about it like it's the end of the world if you don't make the Olympics. In our sport, we didn't grow up with the dream of being in the Olympics. X Games was always the biggest contest; that was the Olympics for us. Obviously, the Olympics are big and everyone watches them but at the end of the day, it's just another contest. I'm trying to keep a mellow mindset.
What are your summer plans?
I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym and playing a lot of golf. I'd like to not focus on skiing for a bit. I'll do a couple of trips but I need to focus on getting in shape and working on my knees. With all of this traveling, my body needs a break. I'm heading to a Field Productions shoot in June and I have a couple of trips planned.
I hear you're a really good golfer.
Simon Dumont and I have a plan to make the senior tour when we're done skiing. [Laughs.] I can't say that I'm really that good but I have been playing for over 10 years, so I know what I'm doing. If I weren't a pro skier, maybe I'd be a pro golfer.