A casual reader could confuse these Scandinavian superpowers-the comparisons are undeniable. Jussi Oksanen and Joni Malmi are two of the most successful Finnish riders of all time, and close friends whose names share “J” as a leading consonant. The bond has tightened as Jussi’s sponsor Burton, recently acquired Joni’s sponsor Forum. While the pair shares many similarities, their upbringing and outlook provide a sharp contrast. Both are highly experienced snow professionals adept at all terrain-but recent photos illustrate similar forces on unique paths. The differences in their riding this year were clearly in the application.

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Jussi Oksanen’s the consummate film and contest professional. His many victories include first place in slope at the U.S. Open and an X-Games gold medal-he’s also a former Olympian. His photos from this year paint a different story however, they suggest a rider in transition. Oksanen’s busily reinventing himself as a backwoods technician: searching out powder, natural features, and the quiet solitude found out-of-bounds. Jussi’s a champion pushing a fresh medium-and no doubt, carving a niche in a new position.

Joni Malmi is an OG member of the vaunted Forum eight-arguably the most influential, progressive team in snowboard history. Malmi rode powder, parks, and pipes this winter, but his passion was nearsighted-the frigid handrails of Finland. He slaughtered as many as he could stomach, paint shavings bled onto frozen steps. For him, these handrails have substance-in the present and his past. The same rails led him to school as a youth and later drove his imagination. People Stateside were slow to take his claims seriously or warm to the task. Now, the fabled rails of Helsinki, Finland have added another chapter to Joni Malmi’s legacy.

Ten Questions With Joni Malmi

Describe where you’re from.

Helsinki, Finland is an awesome city to live in. Some people think that polar bears roam the streets, but actually there’re just hot chicks. The temperature change between summer and winter is huge. In the winter, our ocean freezes over and you can walk on it. The population is around half-a-million people downtown and another half in suburbia. Helsinki is the capital of Finland and the only city I could consider living in here. I like the fact that you don’t need a car to get around-just take a tram or walk. You can’t go anywhere without bumping into a friend, either-that’s also a bad thing sometimes.

You can’t forget that Helsinki has some of the hottest women in the world. People are open to discussion, and everyone speaks English. The Scandinavian culture is heavily influenced by America, and it shows. A study rated Helsinki as one of the top five cities to live in worldwide. I’ll definitely raise my kids here, if I get any (laughs). Some of the popular things to come out of Finland are Nokia, saunas, Finlandia Vodka, blondes, and lots of snowboarders-you’ve all seen photos of the handrails. For me, Helsinki is to snowboarding what Barcelona is to skating.

Explain where you live today.

I just bought a new house in Helsinki. My friends and family are there. In a way, I make it harder for myself. It would be easier to move to the States instead of visiting the U.S. and Canada for three to five months every winter. I don’t know-I guess home is always home. I like having the four different seasons. I don’t think I could handle the beach (So Cal) all year round.

You’re a city boy.

Yeah, I used to hate going to the countryside. I grew up in the suburbs of Helsinki with my mom in a small two-room apartment and went to school downtown. My new place is five times the size of that, so I don’t know how to handle it. I’ll probably start talking to the walls. I get spooked out in houses that are in the middle of nowhere. When I was a kid, I always wanted to live in New York-that city has so much life in it.

In what direction are you taking your riding?

Hopully bigger rails, bigger mountains, and a couple of invite-only events.

Has the mainstream changed snowboarding for the better or the worse?

You can be mainstream in everything you do. The path you choose is your choice-for me, snowboarding is choosing your own line down the mountain.

Who were your early influences?

All the Forum bros influenced me for sure. It was awesome to ride Snow Summit with Jamie Lynn while filming for Mack Dawg’s Decade. That was my first year filming, and he’s my all-time favorite rider. Also Peter Line and all the Scandos: Johan Olofsson, Ingemar Backman, Daniel Franck, Terje, Jesse Hyvari, Juha Tenku, Paavo Tikkanen, Jussi Oksanen, Wille Yli-Luoma … seeing those people destroy something just made me want to push my own riding that much harder. I’ve learned pretty much everything through snowboarding-from people and business to friendships-things they don’t teach you at school.

What riders inspire you today?

I’m inspired by everyone, but I like the energy of the younger kids. Last winter I rode with Iikka B ckstrà®m, Lauri Heiskari, and Eero Niemel a lot. They’re always stoked to go up, even when it’s not the best day out.

Up-and-comers?

Iikka, Lauri, and Eero. What more can I say? They kill it all around.

Describe filming this year.

With grumpy old Johnny? I liked working with Sean Johnson and Pascal. I had the funnest year I’ve ever had snowboarding-finally getting to film all the rails in my hometown with friends. I remember telling people how sick these rails were, and they’d be like “Yeah, right.” Whatever-check the photos now! Otherwise I liked sledding in Whistler. It’s dope to cruise around and choose the stuff you want to hit from the best terrain there is with amazing powder.

How does an experienced rider like yourself approach the year?

I try to get the rails done early in the season while I’m still home. That way I can focus on riding backcountry for the rest of the season. I don’t try to calculate and hold back or anything, I just do the stuff as it comes in front of me. I guess there’s no real technical way to do it-some seasons you pull it off, and sometimes you get hurt. It’s all strikes and gutters. It’s also good not to do stuff when you’re not feeling it-but that’s when you get hurt-that comes with experience.

Ten Questions With Jussi Oksanen

Describe where you’re from.

The town I’m from is called Kirkkonummi. It’s twenty miles away from Helsinki and has about 30,000 inhabitants. It’s a typical, small Finnish town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Kirkkonummi is a peninsula right by the sea, and it’s the point of Finland closest to Estonia, which used to be a part of Russia-the Russians had control of Kirkkonummi until 1954. There are almost 1,000 islands and hundreds of lakes in the Kirkkonummi state. It’s a pretty cool place to grow up.

Explain where you live today.

It’s pretty hard to say. I live like a gypsy. I’m in Finland from June until the end of August each year, then I’m in Austria until December, when I move to North America for the rest of the season. I guess my home is in Finland, since we just finished getting our house built in Kirkkonummi. It’s next to the water and away from town. I love it in the summer-it allows me the space to sort my head out after such a hectic nine months. It’s pretty chill having friends over to stay and cruising on the boat. It’s not a bad spot for parties because it stays light almost all night during the summer. Saunas and Karhu (beer)-that’s where it’s at!

You’re a country boy.

For sure, but I loved living in the city when I was younger-hanging in the bars and all that. Helsinki is a pretty small city with only half-a-million people, so you could almost call that country life, anyway. When I get back to Finland, I just can’t wait to be in our house and wake up in the morning with boats going by. Getting the mail on my dirt bike, taking the kayaks for a ride, going swimming, fishing, wakeboarding, or whatever-just doing stuff around the house. There’s a golf course ten minutes away-I could never get bored. I’d hate to be stuck in some flat in the city. It would be so claustrophobic, always having to peace out of there and go to do something outside. I’m lucky that I can share it with my girlfriend Zoe, who loves the country as much as I do. It doesn’t matter how sick your setup is-if you can’t share it with anyone, it’s all a bit meaningless.

In what direction are you taking your riding?

I just want to ride more natural terrain and keep learning how to ride real mountains. I’ve built cheese wedges for so long … I’m fed up with building these massive constructions. They don’t even work half of the time. It seems like such a waste when there’s so much cool natural shit out there. We should be hitting that stuff more. Canada opened my mind-before I was closed-minded toward anything but the perfect place to build those damn jumps. I love Canada-the terrain is so sick there: natural windlips, rollers, and cliffs.

Has the mainstream changed snowboarding for the better or the worse?

I don’t see anything negative about it. It’s brought more opportunities to the snowboarding industry. So many riders are making a really good living off of commercial sponsors that wouldn’t exist if not for the X-Games or the Olympics. I think it’s good that riders have the opportunity to go either way-go for the contests or go film with Mack Dawg. There’s a way to make a living following either path. Do what you love.

Who were your early influences?

Filming with Standard Films straight away was the best learning experience. Not only were they making sick films, but it made me grow up-waking up at four in the morning and everyone was working really hard. It was good riding with guys like Kevin Jones. They taught me the way to get shit done and how serious it was. Before I started filming with them, I had no clue how it worked. I was surprised how on it everyone was. It was so much fun, but they took it seriously at the same time. It taught me a pretty good working mentality for snowboarding-finding the balance between fun and getting shit done. Big ups to Standard.

What riders inspire you today?

Romain De Marchi and Travis Rice are pushing it so hard, and it’s so sick to see. Look at them-two burly dawgs pushing each other. It’s all about the inspiration, and nobody could step to shit like that by themselves. I get stoked on seeing people ride natural terrain-Romain’s double line in Alaska, DCP’s backcountry lines, Freddie Kalbermatten’s shit-it’s sick to watch.

Up-and-comers?

Eero Ettala has it pretty sorted. He’s motivated and has fun on his snowboard-it makes him so good. Heikki Sorsa is very talented. Snowboarding is so natural for him … so easy.

Describe filming this year.

Tough. The season before I messed up my ankles and had three surgeries in just a few months. Then I found out I’d herniated a disk in my back. Filming was difficult at first ’cause I was scared to mess something up again. Having that in the back of your head makes dropping into 100-foot kickers pretty difficult. I was waiting for my first crash to see what happened. I had my first scorpion (when you overbend your back the wrong way) and everything was fine-I was damn happy. After that, it was on.

We had a really chill crew: filmer Brad Kremer, Wille Yli-Luoma, JP Solberg, DCP, and Heikki Sorsa. Early season was spent exploring new spots to film. It was cool, but I ended up sledding more than snowboarding, which was pretty lame-putting 1,500 miles on my sled. We were on it, but something always went wrong-windblown snow, rocks, or landings would slide. We worked hard for nothing, and I was frustrated. By the end of March, I was freaking-I only had two shots for the movie. Luckily we had a super good tail end of the season and finally got some work done-it was a hecks for a ride, going swimming, fishing, wakeboarding, or whatever-just doing stuff around the house. There’s a golf course ten minutes away-I could never get bored. I’d hate to be stuck in some flat in the city. It would be so claustrophobic, always having to peace out of there and go to do something outside. I’m lucky that I can share it with my girlfriend Zoe, who loves the country as much as I do. It doesn’t matter how sick your setup is-if you can’t share it with anyone, it’s all a bit meaningless.

In what direction are you taking your riding?

I just want to ride more natural terrain and keep learning how to ride real mountains. I’ve built cheese wedges for so long … I’m fed up with building these massive constructions. They don’t even work half of the time. It seems like such a waste when there’s so much cool natural shit out there. We should be hitting that stuff more. Canada opened my mind-before I was closed-minded toward anything but the perfect place to build those damn jumps. I love Canada-the terrain is so sick there: natural windlips, rollers, and cliffs.

Has the mainstream changed snowboarding for the better or the worse?

I don’t see anything negative about it. It’s brought more opportunities to the snowboarding industry. So many riders are making a really good living off of commercial sponsors that wouldn’t exist if not for the X-Games or the Olympics. I think it’s good that riders have the opportunity to go either way-go for the contests or go film with Mack Dawg. There’s a way to make a living following either path. Do what you love.

Who were your early influences?

Filming with Standard Films straight away was the best learning experience. Not only were they making sick films, but it made me grow up-waking up at four in the morning and everyone was working really hard. It was good riding with guys like Kevin Jones. They taught me the way to get shit done and how serious it was. Before I started filming with them, I had no clue how it worked. I was surprised how on it everyone was. It was so much fun, but they took it seriously at the same time. It taught me a pretty good working mentality for snowboarding-finding the balance between fun and getting shit done. Big ups to Standard.

What riders inspire you today?

Romain De Marchi and Travis Rice are pushing it so hard, and it’s so sick to see. Look at them-two burly dawgs pushing each other. It’s all about the inspiration, and nobody could step to shit like that by themselves. I get stoked on seeing people ride natural terrain-Romain’s double line in Alaska, DCP’s backcountry lines, Freddie Kalbermatten’s shit-it’s sick to watch.

Up-and-comers?

Eero Ettala has it pretty sorted. He’s motivated and has fun on his snowboard-it makes him so good. Heikki Sorsa is very talented. Snowboarding is so natural for him … so easy.

Describe filming this year.

Tough. The season before I messed up my ankles and had three surgeries in just a few months. Then I found out I’d herniated a disk in my back. Filming was difficult at first ’cause I was scared to mess something up again. Having that in the back of your head makes dropping into 100-foot kickers pretty difficult. I was waiting for my first crash to see what happened. I had my first scorpion (when you overbend your back the wrong way) and everything was fine-I was damn happy. After that, it was on.

We had a really chill crew: filmer Brad Kremer, Wille Yli-Luoma, JP Solberg, DCP, and Heikki Sorsa. Early season was spent exploring new spots to film. It was cool, but I ended up sledding more than snowboarding, which was pretty lame-putting 1,500 miles on my sled. We were on it, but something always went wrong-windblown snow, rocks, or landings would slide. We worked hard for nothing, and I was frustrated. By the end of March, I was freaking-I only had two shots for the movie. Luckily we had a super good tail end of the season and finally got some work done-it was a hectic year.

How does an experienced rider like yourself approach the year?

I really need to have a few months of snowboarding for myself-to get fully confident and warmed up for the season. I work out a lot at the gym through the summer and early season. I take care of my body and keep fit, so I can stay healthy and enjoy snowboarding for a lot longer. You need to have the strength to take flat landings and all those beatings. These days I really appreciate how lucky I am to be doing what I do for a living.

hectic year.

How does an experienced rider like yourself approach the year?

I really need to have a few months of snowboarding for myself-to get fully confident and warmed up for the season. I work out a lot at the gym through the summer and early season. I take care of my body and keep fit, so I can stay healthy and enjoy snowboarding for a lot longer. You need to have the strength to take flat landings and all those beatings. These days I really appreciate how lucky I am to be doing what I do for a living.