Just over two decades ago, a small town in the Swiss Alps saw the birth of little Nicolas Mà…ller, who grew up into a lanky teenager with an easy way about him and a natural talent for riding the area’s pristine halfpipes. He quickly laid waste to the European contest circuit and before long ventured to the States and began a journey outside resort boundaries.
Although Muller still plays big on the international contest circuit, the pearls of the natural winter world-long sweeping faces, natural windlips, flutes, spines, gullies, bumps, stumps-are the current stage where Mà…ller bests shows off his creativity and finesse. Several years of explosive video parts loaded with a unique, artistic version of progressive backcountry freestyle prove this fact. Now, peek into three days in an Alaskan spring adventure with Nico and feel the power of the positive.-Jennifer Sherowski

What was your relationship with snowboarding during this time?
I was really looking forward to heli-boarding. I was kind of burned out from all the traveling, events, et cetera, so I was a bit in a motivation hole. AK gave me all the joy back, though, and I was glad my cell phone didn’t work and that there was no e-mail so I could focus only on snowboarding. And the mountains in Haines are amazing, exactly what I look for-all-natural terrain to get creative with.

Do you remember the first time you ever went heli-boarding?
It was in Switzerland with Jonas Emery and Romain De Marchi. It was weird, though, ’cause we only had one drop and didn’t really have a chance to look at the terrain. Then the guide always skied ahead of us and said, “Yeah, you guys can jump here,” when all we could see was a rollover knuckle into mystery.

What do you look for in a line when you’re out scoping in the helicopter?
I go through all the possible lines, and then I pick the one that promises the most fun. From the heli, you have to decide on the face you’re riding, but once you have more time to scope it from the top or bottom, there’re usually several options-and then I kind of freak out about which one to do first, because I want to do them all at the same time. I mostly pick one with some kind of air, whether it’s a cliff, lip, spine, or just a little tranny.

Was anything stressing you out on this trip?
I didn’t take very good care of my body the previous summer and fall, and I got pneumonia in November. That was stressful afterward-the recovery was slow and quite serious. Without your lungs, you can’t do shit. Traveling, not sleeping enough, smoky restaurants, and bad food all immediately affected my breathing for weeks after I thought I was better. Sometimes it even felt like I was infected again, but it was just another lesson for me to take more care. Now it’s all good again, and I definitely look at smoking differently.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life so far?
I think I’ve learned a few important things. If I can only name one, I’d say to control your thoughts to make them always positive and you’ll be on high energy-even if everything around you is trying to piss you off and drag you down. If you can follow that line of thinking, you’ll be guided well through life.

What are the top five things you spend your money on?
That would be organic food, jeans, records, beers … and soon a house.

What music were you listening to during the time of the shoot?
On the previous trip I met DJ Knucklz from Salt Lake City, and he gave me a few of his mix tapes, so I was listening to those quite a bit. Also, I was playing some BDP Posse stuff-and for more quiet times, this French kids’ song CD and Johnny Cash.

When was the last time you were scared to death?
When I saw a whole mountain coming towards me after I rode down it. I was waiting in the flat watching Travis (Rice) dropping the same line I’d just done. He stopped at the only spot on the slope that diidn’t slide. Like a miracle, nothing happened. Probably karma. That was my last day filming for the season.

Would you say you have good karma right now, then?
Yeah, I think I have good karma because I live with an awareness of our environment and the creatures around me … even though a recent rough night at the Fog Cutter bar in Haines might have brought it down a little. Hey, it was my birthday party, and everything I smashed got paid for … I hope!

EXTRAS….
“The mountains in Haines are amazing, exactly what I look for-all-natural terrain to get creative with.”

“I go through all the possible lines, and then I pick the one that promises the most fun.”