Behind Real Snow with Jussi Oksanen
Jussi Oksanen has it dialed. With over fifteen years of professional snowboarding in the bag he knows the drill, and what a drill that is! He operates like a Black Ops soldier, living in Southern California full time with his wife and kids, but quietly disappearing for a week here or there in order to compile the consistently high-end footage that has earned him honors as one of the most respected snowboarders around.
Fellow Burton rider Mikey Rencz put Oksanen's routine to the test this season, filming mainly in an around the Whistler backcountry. Here, he interviews the Finnish legend and expels the rigors of another season spent on the shred. --Nate Deschenes
Mikey Rencz: How did this year stack up against years past?
Jussi Oksanen: This year was pretty fun. We had a really small crew -- most of the season it was just you and I. We also hit quite a few new jumps and explored some new zones, which is always fun.
I had a bit of a rough run this year though, as far as injuries were concerned (broke a few bones in my face, tweaked my ankle and my shoulder), so that kind of held me back a bit.
I was stoked to be at the Ultra Natural, too, and get to ride with a bunch of friends that usually don't get to ride together in the winter.
Did you have a favorite day filming this season?
One of the first days the season we went up in the trees to shoot some pillows and stuff in a snowstorm. It was snowing so hard the whole time and the snow was already about five-feet deep -- borderline too deep.
I tried this double line and it took me a few tries to even get speed to the second take off as the snow was so deep -- full on submarine style. When we got back to the sleds after hiking all day, they were totally buried in pow. It must have snowed about two feet while we were filming. Pretty nice way to start the filming for the season!
What was your best trip of the year?
The best trip was our trip up north to Stewart, B.C. We had good snow and the full days of sun. At this point it's good to find yourself somewhere where there are no other crews. It's also really beautiful up there. It's low elevation but it has more of that Alaska feel, compared to Whistler.
How many times did you cross the border with a black eye?
[Laughs] Only once when I broke my nose! It looked pretty rough; I'm surprised they let me back in to the country.
Do you have a favorite tool to bring in the backcountry?
I don't know if you can call it a tool ... maybe more of a toy. The Burton Fishcuit is a board that you can ride with out the bindings, so it's pretty much like surfing on snow.
That was one of the highlights of the season: At lunch break, or after the day was done, to do a few Fishcuit runs. It's so much fun and it kind brings back the old school vibe to life that I had when I started snowboarding.
What was your longest day in the backcountry this year?
One day was probably about fourteen hours. On the way back we rode 30 miles in the dark. It's not such a good idea, crossing glaciers in pitch black. I was thinking about bowls of pasta the whole way sledding back...
How many features did you build that just didn't work out as planned?
I don't know! It's funny, it doesn't matter how many jumps you have built in your life, there are always some that you build wrong or that just don’t work out. Probably at least five jumps that didn't work, so not too bad -- the year before was worst, so we are getting better.
What was the longest time you spent away from home and your family this year?
Longest trip was two weeks, that's about the longest I go at one time. Usually there are windows in between storms and good weather, so that's when I head back home for a couple of days and then shoot back up when it's looking good again. It's nice to charge my batteries and be all stoked to get back in to filming each time again.
Is your Real Snow part stand-alone footage or will we be able to see it somewhere else too?
Some of the footage will be in the new Burton movie, plus a lot more. Real Snow is only a 90-second part, so it only allows you to show about twelve shots. In the movie we can show multiple angles and a bunch of other shots that didn't make it in.