Jussi Oksanen–Finn Of The Year

Words and sounds by Kalle Mustonen

I'm not going to tell you how good, great, radical, or awesome Jussi Oksanen's riding is. If you can't see it by looking at all his photos and video parts, I can't help you–you either get it or you don't. Although Jussi's riding is what it is (let's say, quite pleasing to watch), it's still not the most interesting part of him. Jussi's warm and friendly character is what makes him so interesting. It's not about snowboarding, it's not about difficult tricks, nor is it about high airs, it's all about being a friendly and smiling human being. Especially being friendly and smiling on those bad, f–ked up days.

Do you have a motto for life?

To live every day as fully as possible and try to enjoy every moment you get, which isn't always so easy. Even though you may have complaints about how things are or the way they are, in the long run they may still be good for you. You should just take life as it comes and learn from everything you go through. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

How does it feel for you to be a Finn; what does being Finnish mean to you?

It's such a luxury to be Finnish. Finland is far from all the bad influences of the world, so there's a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere here. It's probably one of the world's cleanest countries, no pollution, and lots of fresh air. It's always nice to go back to Finland.

Jussi skates goofy, but snowboards regular. “What the hell?” you might be thinking. But there really isn't anything too perverted in his schizophrenic arrangement. Jussi started skating goofy almost right after he learned to run and still does. At his local mountain in South Finland there are just little hills, with a maximum vertical of 150 feet, so it's all pipes and parks. The rental boards he learned on were all set up regular. So, he's always skated goofy and snowboarded regular, making him (surprise, surprise) a bit of an expert on switch-stance riding.

Because of Jussi's part in and cover shot on the cover of TB8 and now this TWS interview, it seems like everything has happened so easily for him–unknown ripper gets lucky, discovered by some photographers and cameramen. But that is far from the truth. Smiley-boy has had a very long and extremely painful road getting his name into the headlines. Although his riding got him here, his style of riding (let's say, large) also made it very dangerous. He has had several big injuries in the last few years–large riding means big injuries, the law of physics says so–riding and injuries that pushed his progression a bit further.

What does your hospital diary's “table of contents” look like?

My collarbone has been broken a few times. I broke it the first time in Riksgränsen, Sweden, in '97. Then I went to ride too soon that summer and fell, so the bone didn't heal all the way. When I went to ride in autumn, it broke again and they had to put some metal in it. After that, my ankle started to make some trouble. First, I hurt it, and then developed some kind of inflammation or something. It seems like it doesn't heal all the way at all–it comes back again and again. I have just worked out a lot and now it seems to be getting better. Last winter I dislocated my shoulder. It's jumped out twice so far. Now it seems to be okay, though. At this moment, I think everything is in pretty good condition again.

For years, all the tricks and airs have gotten bigger and bigger. Photographers, as well as the public, want to see crazier stunts. Does this put any kind of pressure on you?

No, it doesn't. First of all, I think you can do some great stuff on smaller jumps, too. And secondly, I just like to go huge for myself. I think no o can want me to go higher than what I want myself. I want to win for myself in every trick I do, I want to do them bigger and bigger all the time.

What do you think about the risks in snowboarding?

Since snowboarding has turned into a profession for me, I have started to think more about it and I don't want to do anything really stupid anymore. I'll think, “If I'm going to do this, I might be able to do it, but I'm quite sure I'll twist my ankle or break some bone, losing some time from riding and filming.” These things are just in your head. It's kind of an obvious thing to think, but then again, you can't think too much like this 'cause you won't do anything anymore.

What are the sketchiest places you've been to?

I haven't been in any very bad places at all, in fact, at least with a snowboard I haven't. Last winter when we were filming TB8 the jumps weren't so big that I'd be nervous or anything. I've never done any big lines in Alaska or anywhere, which I really would like to do. Hopefully, I'll be able to do some this winter. Maybe not in Alaska, though, 'cause I think it would be too big for a “first-timer” like me. Anyway, I think those lines might make me a little bit thrilled, because I know I'm quite bad with them. Laughs

Jussi doesn't understand all the sides of the “American snowboard culture” so well. After being on tour a few years ago, he saw one of his teammates smashing beer bottles on his head, trying to break them. All Jussi could do was shake his head quietly when he saw the guy with open wounds and blood streaming from his forehead like a little Mississippi River. “What's the point?” Neither could he understand all the yelling at nice waitresses or other people, who were just trying to do their work.

That doesn't mean he hasn't fallen in love with the country, he has. Hanging around in San Diego, L.A., or with friends in Lake Tahoe, the times spent there are always mentioned with a smile and lot of comfort in his voice.

And it doesn't mean Jussi doesn't play with the bottle–when it's the right time. At a concert in Helsinki, where one of the popular punk bands (Apulanta) from Finland was performing, Jussi was wrestling in the concert's bar section with one of his friends, who happened to be quite a large man. I bet it was rather difficult for onlookers to guess that this totally wasted kid, whose pants were hanging somewhere around his thighs, laughing loudly and wrestling with a friend was honored with a large ceremony as Finland's 1999 Snowboarder Of The Year, just nine hours before. It's all about timing and knowing when to act in what way. It's equally stupid to be a drunken asshole in a public place where children are present as it is to act sophisticated at a hardcore-punk concert. “There is a right time and right place for everything, but not all times and all places are necessarily always right for anything,” Jussi says.

What's the difference between Finnish and American snowboard culture?

Finns don't talk, cheer, or yell as much as Americans. In Finland everyone is more or less quiet and doing his or her own thing. In the U.S. it's more like, “Yeehaw!” all the time. I think there are good sides in both ways and cultures. And then again, when you go to a place like Talma, Finland, there are so many riders who you've never even seen before, and everybody is riding so amazingly well that it's unbelievable! Everyone is capable of doing all the same tricks as all the pros. I feel completely Joe Average there. It's probably because in the U.S. everybody is riding powder and in Finland there isn't any powder, so all the kids are riding parks and the pipe–naturally they get super good.

Did I tell you how Jussi's property is lost quite often? No, I didn't. Well, it is. But maybe that's a whole separate story. Anyway, it would've just proved once more how Jussi doesn't give a shit about material things surrounding every one of us. It would have just shown you again what a down-to-Earth person our smiley-boy is. You should already know all this by now.

Are your parents supportive?

Well, my parents have encouraged and pushed me a lot. They are really special. My mother, she is … laughs. Well, she's the way she is! Great mother–very understanding and funny. And my father has helped me so much with everything, especially all the details with sponsors, which can be tricky.

What memories from childhood wouldn't you change for anything?

I had quite a liberal childhood, so, I wouldn't change anything. It was full of action and I was able to do whatever I liked to do. My parents gave me some rules, but I was still free to make my own choices. I tried everything when I was a child–I did lots of sports.

What things about life have you learned when traveling around as a pro snowboarder?

Naturally, I've become more independent. I'm not afraid to take off and go wherever I need or want to go. Now I enjoy all the trips, even when I don't know where we're going or what's going on. There will be some kind of hassles and troubles to solve, but I don't mind anymore. It's just exciting.

Usually people learn most about life from their biggest mistakes. Have there ever been any really bad situations you learned a lot from afterward?

Well, there are some things that come with sponsorships you really must learn, the faster the better. In the beginning you don't know anything and you most certainly will be screwed some way or another. The business side of this business is hard.

What things in life are close to your heart?

In general? Now that I've had time to be at home it's been something big for me. Just to sleep in my own bed for a change and hang around with my friends. I've noticed it means more and more to me every day. It's really some special and valuable time for me. It's something I'm not able to do whenever I want to.

Jussi is cool. And not in the “Yo, yo. Hey, dude, waz up?” way, but in the right way, in a real way. He doesn't try to act any better than anyone else, even though he has already tasted success. And he always has enough courage to talk about things that are on his mind. How many snowboarders do you know with whom you can openly talk about everything in life? About things you are afraid of or about things you love? How often can you stop Joe Pro Snowboarder and really talk with him about these things? Not too often, I would say. Usually the discussions revolve around more important details of life such as who has the best silicone tits on TV, or what is the coolest place for backcountry riding. But with Jussi you can talk about everything in life, from joy to sorrow. That's what makes him cool, for real.

So, what dreams in your life have already come true?

This snowboarding thing, of course. But it really wasn't such a dream, you know. It was a dream, but it wasn't something I really thought much about, 'cause I thought it would be impossible to happen anyway.

What dreams do you still have in front of you?

Right now, I think I'm at my life's highest peak. I just wish I could continue this as long as I can. After this is over I'd like to be able to start a whole new life. But these kinds of things are difficult to think about 'cause you never know what's going to happen tomorrow.

What experience would you lally they get super good.

Did I tell you how Jussi's property is lost quite often? No, I didn't. Well, it is. But maybe that's a whole separate story. Anyway, it would've just proved once more how Jussi doesn't give a shit about material things surrounding every one of us. It would have just shown you again what a down-to-Earth person our smiley-boy is. You should already know all this by now.

Are your parents supportive?

Well, my parents have encouraged and pushed me a lot. They are really special. My mother, she is … laughs. Well, she's the way she is! Great mother–very understanding and funny. And my father has helped me so much with everything, especially all the details with sponsors, which can be tricky.

What memories from childhood wouldn't you change for anything?

I had quite a liberal childhood, so, I wouldn't change anything. It was full of action and I was able to do whatever I liked to do. My parents gave me some rules, but I was still free to make my own choices. I tried everything when I was a child–I did lots of sports.

What things about life have you learned when traveling around as a pro snowboarder?

Naturally, I've become more independent. I'm not afraid to take off and go wherever I need or want to go. Now I enjoy all the trips, even when I don't know where we're going or what's going on. There will be some kind of hassles and troubles to solve, but I don't mind anymore. It's just exciting.

Usually people learn most about life from their biggest mistakes. Have there ever been any really bad situations you learned a lot from afterward?

Well, there are some things that come with sponsorships you really must learn, the faster the better. In the beginning you don't know anything and you most certainly will be screwed some way or another. The business side of this business is hard.

What things in life are close to your heart?

In general? Now that I've had time to be at home it's been something big for me. Just to sleep in my own bed for a change and hang around with my friends. I've noticed it means more and more to me every day. It's really some special and valuable time for me. It's something I'm not able to do whenever I want to.

Jussi is cool. And not in the “Yo, yo. Hey, dude, waz up?” way, but in the right way, in a real way. He doesn't try to act any better than anyone else, even though he has already tasted success. And he always has enough courage to talk about things that are on his mind. How many snowboarders do you know with whom you can openly talk about everything in life? About things you are afraid of or about things you love? How often can you stop Joe Pro Snowboarder and really talk with him about these things? Not too often, I would say. Usually the discussions revolve around more important details of life such as who has the best silicone tits on TV, or what is the coolest place for backcountry riding. But with Jussi you can talk about everything in life, from joy to sorrow. That's what makes him cool, for real.

So, what dreams in your life have already come true?

This snowboarding thing, of course. But it really wasn't such a dream, you know. It was a dream, but it wasn't something I really thought much about, 'cause I thought it would be impossible to happen anyway.

What dreams do you still have in front of you?

Right now, I think I'm at my life's highest peak. I just wish I could continue this as long as I can. After this is over I'd like to be able to start a whole new life. But these kinds of things are difficult to think about 'cause you never know what's going to happen tomorrow.

What experience would you like to share with everyone?

I think traveling, which I wish everyone could experience. School is one way to learn about things, reading and memorizing. But when you're traveling it's the perfect school of life! You see so many things. I think about some of my friends, who've never been more than 500 miles from their home, when there are so many unbelievable and amazing places all over the world.

What kind of things are you afraid of?

Just recently I've started to be afraid of all kinds of illnesses. I think I'm a bit paranoid. If I have something wrong somewhere in my body, I'll go to the doctor the next day, you can count on it. I've seen bad examples of what might happen if you don't take care of yourself and visit a doctor when you should. Health is so important.

One thing you still might not know about Jussi is he's a little bit deeper person than this interview would ever show him to be. He is so full of life, with all the aspects of life, that one interview would never show it all. It would take at least a book. And maybe even that's not enough. But that's a good thing to know, a person is always more interesting than a piece of paper and some ink.

Jussi would like to thank the following people for their support: Lamar, Etnies, Thirty-two, DUB, Smith, and GMC, Jari Laakso, his parents (you are great!), his big sister Anna, Steve Astephen, Eddie Lee, Doug Proodian, Jeff Jewett, John West, everyone from Standard Films, Joni Mäkinen, all my good friends (you know who you are), Timo Aho, Juha Mustonen, Kalle Mustonen, and everyone else who has helped and pushed him along the way–thank you.

ou like to share with everyone?

I think traveling, which I wish everyone could experience. School is one way to learn about things, reading and memorizing. But when you're traveling it's the perfect school of life! You see so many things. I think about some of my friends, who've never been more than 500 miles from their home, when there are so many unbelievable and amazing places all over the world.

What kind of things are you afraid of?

Just recently I've started to be afraid of all kinds of illnesses. I think I'm a bit paranoid. If I have something wrong somewhere in my body, I'll go to the doctor the next day, you can count on it. I've seen bad examples of what might happen if you don't take care of yourself and visit a doctor when you should. Health is so important.

One thing you still might not know about Jussi is he's a little bit deeper person than this interview would ever show him to be. He is so full of life, with all the aspects of life, that one interview would never show it all. It would take at least a book. And maybe even that's not enough. But that's a good thing to know, a person is always more interesting than a piece of paper and some ink.

Jussi would like to thank the following people for their support: Lamar, Etnies, Thirty-two, DUB, Smith, and GMC, Jari Laakso, his parents (you are great!), his big sister Anna, Steve Astephen, Eddie Lee, Doug Proodian, Jeff Jewett, John West, everyone from Standard Films, Joni Mäkinen, all my good friends (you know who you are), Timo Aho, Juha Mustonen, Kalle Mustonen, and everyone else who has helped and pushed him along the way–thank you.