The real contest—for riders like Andreas Wiig—is happening inside their head. And Wiig seems to have mastered his mental game considering his output in the past few seasons. Countless podium finishes and wins at the highest levels of competition, technical spin tricks into Tahoe powder, and video parts that freak us all out. Few riders bring the one-two punch that Wiig delivers. Balancing his powder pursuits with the contest circuit, Wiig treads where few riders dare—everywhere. And in his quest to become the best all-around rider he can be, he’s pushed himself, his peers, and even the upcoming generation of shreds to seek higher highs and heavier hammers.
How do you balance the filming and the contests?
There’s a big difference between riding park and riding powder, and sometimes if you’re killing it in contests, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to land everything in powder. It’s just about getting into the mood, I guess. During the first part of the season, I focus on riding park. Last year, I didn’t even start filming until after the X Games. I’m just trying to get as much riding in as I can and I think it helps, because when I want to go filming, I’m pretty warmed up trick-wise. It makes it easier to get the shots, I think. If I started filming right away, I wouldn’t learn as much. I think the way I’m doing it now is best for my snowboarding. If I haven’t ridden powder for a while, it takes getting used to the feeling of being in powder—getting comfortable. When you start filming, you don’t get to ride too much. It’s smart to get in a couple warm up runs, for sure—I did that a lot more last year. I’ve been riding more for fun as well and I think that helps. You can take fifteen minutes in the morning or you can spend an hour, it doesn’t ruin the filming day to warm up.
Sounds logical to us normal people.
Yeah, it seems like it’s a little stressful for some of the film crews nowadays. It’s all about shoveling, going straight, and jumping. There’s not too much snowboarding involved.
I think guys like you have set that precedent with the movie parts you drop. These days, kids who want a piece have to get serious shots to come up. Hammers only.
Well, that’s the way I’ve been working for years.
But what changed?
I just feel like I reached a level where I don’t necessarily need to do the same tricks every year, you know? Everyone knows I can do a back seven. Actually, I think I might impress people more by having variety and stuff people haven’t seen me do before in my parts. It’s just a personal thing, wanting to change it up.
With the mind-set of trying to produce a video part that’s a progression from the year before, what do you have to do?
A good way for me to progress with my video parts is to get some variety and show people that I can do more than just hitting jumps. That’s a big part of it for me-get a handplant in there, just do something else, so it’s not the same year after year.
So are you happy with your part in Black Winter?
I’m actually really stoked on how it turned out. I never know how a video part is gonna turn out. I never think, “That was a banger.” In the past, I’ve had a lot of short video parts, it was about time I put out a full-length part. I didn’t get anything too crazy, but this year I got to ride way more. It’s not just jump after jump after jump. There’s a little bit more in between-a little spice in between the bangers.
Yeah, I got some turns. I was doing some freeriding for the first time-you know, some bigger lines this year. It was really fun getting into it. With all of Mike [Hatchett]’s experience, I felt a bit more safe about what I was doing. Before, I didn’t know what I was doing [laughs]. So it was cool to tap into that. We didn’t end up using too much of my freeriding, but I haven’t had a turn in a snowboard video in a while, so I’m psyched.
Heelside and toeside turns!
I got a heelside, a toeside, getting lost in the white room …
And what about progression on the competitive side?
For this year, I definitely want to get back up there. Obviously, last season wasn’t as good as the previous two years contest-wise, even though the filming turned out to be better. I took some time off in the summer, then started riding in September again. I am heading to Austria and Switzerland, get a few weeks of fun there, and I’ll definitely go back to Keystone and do the Colorado thing-get myself ready for the season. I just don’t wanna get too serious, just have a lot of fun. When you get hurt, it takes away from the fun of snowboarding. I just want to get the fun back because that’s when I learn the most.
You spend a lot of time riding at Keystone early season, what’s the value of resort riding for you?
It’s really important. I think it’s what made me do so well at all those contests. I think it has helped me out a lot. The main thing is that it helps you be consistent and improve your style because you do the same thing over and over, so you can always be improving something.
It seems like a lot of pro riders reach a certain level and sorta leave resort riding behind.
Honestly, it’s taken a lot of park riding and a lot of hard work to be where I am. I think if I was only filming and riding powder there would be no way I could expect to go to the contests and do well. That’s just the way it works. A lot of people say they only film because if they go to a contest they get hurt or it’s just scary. But if you ride park-spend a lot of time in there, your body just gets used to it. And you get hurt less, I think.
This winter’s contests are all about twelves and doubles, right?
Yeah, but the secret is, for contests, you have to be able to do them all the time. My goal is just to ride better. So wherever it takes me is where it’s gonna take me. I learned double backflips on park jumps this summer, so that’s a good start to doing some different tricks. I’ve done the frontside double cork, which is kind of a stepping-stone. Definitely you’ll need a twelve and the double cork in your run pretty soon-just have to dial ’em. I feel like in years past, I always had my best runs in the finals. This year, sometimes I would get a good run in practice and fall in the finals. I just have to get that mind-set back. Once it’s on, it’s on.
This year especially, you face some serious competition out there-even from these so-called “ams.” What’s your take on the pro-versus-am situation-the lines seem blurry these days.
It is blurry, it seems like there’s been a change in snowboarding. We’ve seen it in skating-eleven-year-old kids that are killing it, and I think we’re seeing the same thing in snowboarding now. There’s a new era of kids who are coming up and they’ve been riding since they were five-years-old, in perfect parks, and it’s a natural thing that you get good when you’re fifteen, now.
Kids are riding at a high level.
They’re riding at an even higher level as far as being progressive, because they’re young and hungry. If you’re growing up now, you know what’s possible even more than we did in the past. As a kid, I knew a 1080 was possible, but I never heard about a double cork. There’s definitely a difference. I’m really impressed with all the kids coming up. I did my own contest in Norway and I only invited kids from Norway and Europe-mostly ams. And that contest was the highest level of riding at any big air I’ve seen. All the kids were doing double corks. Halldór Helgason came to my contest and landed three frontside double corks out of four attempts. He’s one of these kids! When I was coming up, we were like, ‘I wanna do that front seven.’ Big difference between then and now-seriously.