Published March 6, 2009
Eiríkur “Eiki” Helgason first drew the attention of the snowboarding community in 2003 with the release of the snowboard movie “Óreiða” (“Chaos”), where he and his fellow rippers in Team Divine (Viktor Helgi Hjartarson, Gulli Guðmundsson and Eiki´s little brother Halldór) first set the standard for Icelandic snowboarding. The film attracted some international praise, mainly for Eiki´s attempt at a triple backflip—a trick never before seen, nor seen since.
It´s now six years down the road and Eiki has experienced most, if not all, that it entails to be a pro snowboarder: magazine covers, countless competition wins, tireless travel, and the “Snowboarder Magazine” Rookie of the Year award. I caught up with Eiki where he was in Aspen, Colorado, at the top of the waiting list to participate in the X-Games Slopestyle.
First off, I was curious to know about Eiki´s emphasis on jibbing (a form of urban snowboarding). “I get a lot of inspiration from skateboarding and jibbing rails was the only way to do what my idols were doing because Hlíðarfjall (Eiki´s home mountain) never built jumps or anything like that, nor does it offer many days for building backcountry jumps, so we chose this way, and it worked out”, Eiki tells me.
All of Team Divine have studied at a Swedish snowboarding highschool. I ask him how that came about: “We somehow heard about this school and after that nothing else mattered, we just had to get admitted.” Obviously they were. They thus continued to grow and progress off of each other, as Eiki freely admits. “I would never have gotten to where I am today where it not for all of us continually pushing each other to do better”.
Last winter was Eiki´s first season as a fully-fledged globetrotting pro, which means his travels are more or less dictated by the whims of his team manager at Rome Snowboards, so paths seldom converge with his friends anymore. What´s it like to spend most of the season without your old team? “We rode together from October to January, so it´s not that bad, but you always miss not being with all of your buddies riding Hlíðarfjall,” says Eiki.
Nabbing the last part of the snowboard movies you appear in each season is always prestigious, like headlining a concert. Sure enough Eiki landed—and I´m talking a lot of clean landings—the end part of Rome´s “No Correct Way” movie this year: a feat that might singlehandedly have gotten a slew of nominations for the ´08 rider awards circuit. So I had him tell me a bit about his recent “Rookie of the Year” award.
“I was nominated for Transworld Snowboarding magazine’s Rookie of the year reader’s choice and for the top 10 trick of the year list. Then I won the Snowboarder Magazine and Snowboard MBM “Rookie of the Year” awards. So the season couldn´t have played out much better.”
Comp Kid vs. Powder Hound
In the world of professional snowboarding there are two more or less prevalent schools of thought. There are media babies—your Shaun Whites and Shaun Palmers—who crave the spotlight and the huge cash (and occasional) SUV prizes that come with a successful competitive career, and the more laidback filming/photographing types that supplement their already sizeable salaries and pro model royalties with the photo bonus—your Travis Rices and Johan Olofsons.
Up to this point, during his latter school years, Eiki received much acclaim for being nearly unbeatable on the Scandinavian, urban jib competition scene; but with this year’s release of not one but three films with an “Eiki Helgason” part in them begs the question: competing or filming, which is more fun? “I don´t like competing. Filming is a 100 times more fun because you´re so free. You don´t need to know the day or the time. You can just do what you like, when you like. Hehe, couldn´t be better!”