In life, there are some people who might inspire you to do greater things. They have indefinable charisma or natural talent that sits on them easily, naturally-so much so they don’t seem to notice it themselves. And that is where you would put Jan Peter Solberg. JP-as his friends know him-exploded into the snowboarding world almost overnight and out of nowhere. He’s likely to be Norway’s greatest export since Terje Haakonsen and Daniel Franck. Meeting JP is always a recipe for some sort of comedy. If he’s not hidden behind earphones, or creating dance steps with his best friend Bjorn Mortenson for their future boy band, he’s working out, searching for candy, or goofing off. He would have you believe he’s slightly introverted, but in fact he is more of a comedian. Whether it’s a 30-meter shirtless 720 or an afternoon kicker session in a rabbit costume, JP is one of those riders who constantly blows your mind.-Drew Stevenson
So I just watched Absinthe Films’ new movie Transcendence-is there anything you want to tell us?
You mean about the rabbit suit?
It was actually Romain’s idea, he wanted to be the bunny, but he got injured this summer, a week before he was going to start filming. Someone had to do it, and they picked me.
How long have you been riding?
For maybe seven years now. I started snowboarding at a local mountain on the east coast close to Bergen-there’s no snow out there. Now I live farther in the middle of Norway-I go to a sports school, and this is my last year. I’m almost out, and I’m stoked.
Burton’s a pretty serious sponsor. Does the company ever make you do anything you’re not into-like contests or shooting?
No, nothing. I don’t get any pressure from them. I don’t even have to film because I’m still with school and they totally respect that. But I called Rene Hansen, Burton European team manager today saying that I kind of want to quit school. It’s too hard-I get back from Japan after a week of partying and have to get up at six tomorrow morning and go take, like, five tests.
You only have a year left, though. That’s true.
It seems like it might be worth it …I don’t know, actually.
You have to do time in the army, too?
No, I have dual citizenship with the States, so if they want me in the army, I’m going to rip my Norwegian passport to pieces and just move to the U.S.
Do you think you’ll ever move out of Norway?
Actually, I wouldn’t mind moving away because right now the taxes are so high. That’s probably the first thing I’ll do when I quit school-move outta here. I’ve been thinking about the U.S., or maybe get a place in Hossegor, France-a really nice town to come back to after snowboarding. There’s sun all year round, just go back and surf. I saw too much snow last year.
Right, surfing-the new favorite pastime for snowboarders. How long have you been into it?
I started two years ago. It’s so much fun, and it’s so good for your body.
How would you classify your style of riding?
I think style is something that reflects you and your personality, so I’d say that my style is like me-a little careful, calm, and sometimes a little out of control.
What about competing-are you into it?
I’m into good contests-like, if they listen to the riders. I haven’t been to any of those this year, but I’ve witnessed a couple that were pretty shitty. The organizers are like, ‘Yeah, well, we paid for you to come here, so put on a good show.’ I’m into events that focus more on what the riders think than what their sponsors say or what the crowd wants, like the Arctic Challenge.
Where’s your favorite place to ride?
I like Hemsedal in Norway a lot during the superpark session in the spring, and Whistler-nice backcountry.
Was Terje Haakonsen a big influence for you and other Norwegian kids back in the day?
Yeah, definitely. He was probably the biggest one, and maybe he still is, even though you don’t see him around that much anymore.
Are there any expectatioons placed on Scandinavian riders-like the world’s expecting them to be the next Terje?
Probably, but I don’t think there should be. Nobody’s going to take his place. He did so much work for snowboarding-the sport is where it’s at today because of him.
Who influences your riding?
Anybody who steps up and does something to push the sport, not caring what other people will say or think, you know?
Taking atrick or a move to another level might not look too dope at first, but that’s how you have to do it. Like Romain-the guy’ll go twice as big as anyone or fly twice as far on a kicker just to see if it’s possible. It might look a little sketch sometimes, but that’s the price you have to pay.
Do you think riding will ever stop being fun and become a job?
Gee, I hope not. I’m having so much fun now, so I find it hard to believe. I’ve met people who look at it that way and I don’t wanna end up like them. But from where I’m standing right now, I would say no, never.
Is there anything you don’t like about the snowboard industry?
Yeah, a lot of promises not being held. There’s so much talk and nobody living up to it. I don’t want to put anybody in a bad light, but that’s how it is. There’s so much talk and no follow-up.
I was reading a profile about you in a European mag-are you obsessed with Britney Spears?
No, I’m not obsessed. Everyone wants me to be, though. I just said I liked her once and it got blown way out of proportion.
So what are you into, then?
I listen to a lot of stuff-mostly hip-hop, but anything can sound good there and then, you know what I mean?
Whatever I find appealing.
What’s in your stereo now?
Right now I’m listening to Mobb Deep.
And what about chicks. Do you have a girlfriend?
Nope. It’s so hard to have a girlfriend when I’m doing this. I’d never get to see her because I’m traveling so much.
Yeah, I can’t believe a lot of riders do the long-distance thing. Same here, I don’t know how they do it … they should tell me.
What are you going to do for the sport, and what’s snowboarding going to do for you?
I don’t know what exactly I’m going to do for it but to keep doing what I’m doing now. And I know that snowboarding will give me the life I always wanted to live-something I wouldn’t give up for anything.
Okay, enough torture. Is there anything else you want to say?
I don’t know what I feel about interviews. It makes it easy for people to be someone they’re not. It’s simple for a person to put on a false front or make a good name-say things that they don’t necessarily think, just to be cool or a good role model. Then when you meet them-they’re totally strange.
I want to thank all my sponsors-Burton, Volcom, Dragon, Nixon, Gravis, and Base Boardshop; Rene Hansen; my friends-Hasi, Mads, Romain, Pierre, Justin. And last but not least, my parents for all they’ve done for me. Thank you.
“U.S., they have JP Walker-Europe has JP Solberg, that’s what I can say about him. He’s young and coming up this season. He has a strong riding style and you’re gonna see him all over the place in the season, so keep your eyes open because he’s gonna blow your mind.”-Romain De Marchi
“JP’s holy trinity-Britney Spears, Taco Bell, and The Price Is Right.”-Justin Hostynek
If they want me in the army, I’m going to rip my Norwegian passport to pieces and just move to the U.S.
Taking a trick or a move to another level might not look too dope at first, but that’s how you have to do it.
I’m not obsessed. Everyone wants me to be, though.