Olympic contender Antti Autti speaks.

Interview by Cody Dresser

A single televised victory catapulted Antti Autti to worldwide fame and recognition. Without attitude or entourage he transformed from zero to hero in front of an entire nation. A quiet Finnish rider pulled the rug out from under favorites Andy Finch, Danny Kass, and Shaun White for X-Games halfpipe domination in February 2005.

Television is conducive to sensationalism-and hell, it sure did make a great story. Young Antti, like a bat out of hell, had come out of nowhere and flown off with the coveted gold medal. Of course it’s never that simple-in fact, Antti’s a bit of a contest veteran. He’s earned his respect the hard way abroad racking up an amazing seven World Cup wins in the last two years alone and sweeping the ’05 World Championships.

With the Olympics fast approaching, Antti Autti has serious momentum. He’s got youth, talent, back-to-back 1080s, and experience-a small detail that television drama failed to disclose.

Dang, you cleaned up the contest scene this year, kid.

Thanks. I won the X-Games, the World Championships, got second at the U.S. Open, and won one of the pre-Olympic events in Italy. I did okay in a couple other major comps as well, like the Nippon Open, TAC, and the Gravity Games.

You crushed the FIS World Cup circuit in ’04 and won the Finnish National Championships, yet still remained relatively unknown.

Well, that’s true, but who really cared about the FIS World Cups two years before the Olympics? The only time people have any interest in those events is when they qualify riders for the Olympics.

How did you feel about being labeled a rookie on TV when you’ve been competing for years?

It’s cool-nobody in the States even knew who I was before the X-Games. It was nice, too. No one had any expectations of me when I was competing last year. This year it’ll be the other way around.

But you’re a seasoned competitor.

Yes, but I can’t claim that I’m an experienced snowboarder just yet. I know how to deal with competition. I’ve been competing since I was fifteen, but I still lack the experience of riders like Aleski Vanninen, Todd Richards, or Kevin Jones-I’m not as well-rounded a rider, either.

You’re mad versatile-you won both the slopestyle and big-air contests.

I won the World Championships in big air last year, placed second in the Gravity Games slopestyle event behind Chad Otterstrom, and won The Arctic Challenge big-air session. But I’m still not knowledgeable in other stuff like riding huge backcountry kickers, or Alaska, for example.

Riding powder isn’t that hard, but reading the natural backcountry environment and obstacles is what I find difficult. It’s hard work, but landing a technical trick in powder is so rewarding compared to performing the same trick in a park.

Do you think that X-Games win would have meant as much if Danny Kass hadn’t been there?

Probably, but if Shaun White wouldn’t have been in the finals, it would have been a different story. Shaun is such a huge star in the U.S., and television portrays him as being larger than life.

The best way to make a name for yourself in America is to do well in televised events. Other pros respect you when you kill it in the smaller events-but for the public, winning the X-Games or U.S. Open makes you famous.

How did Flow react when you won?

The people at Flow were super excited, of course. This was a very big year for Flow’s image, but it wasn’t only because of me. Everybody on the team was riding really well last year. I think a lot of people have been forced to change their opinion of Flow-they’re starting to realize how great the brand and products are.

How did the X-Games change your life personally and professionally?

Well, it didn’t affect my personality (laughs). The last thing I’d ever do is start acting like somebody I’m not and playing the cool guy just because I won a major contest. But it chaed my life, for sure-I’ve met all these people who want to be my buddy just because I won something “big.” What I’m saying may sound negative, but after the X-Games, I had to remind myself who my true friends were. Professionally, it made me a lot better known in the industry, and that’s a super good thing.

Are you more recognized in the States or in Finland?

In Finland, definitely. All the newspapers wrote stories after the world champs and the X-Games. But in the U.S., people are way more up front about it. We are shy in Finland.

So, 1080s were the trick last year. What’s next?

I’d like to see more alley-oop stuff going on this season. Doing 1080s isn’t even that fun. Honestly, who really even likes to spin that crazy? They’re mandatory if you want to do well in comps, but smooth alley-oop 360s or large air to fakies are the most enjoyable tricks in the pipe for me right now.

What will it take to win halfpipe comps this season?

Amplitude and combinations-people are going huge this year. This year’s combo might be frontside 900 to backside 900 to back-to-back 1080s. I saw so many guys going frontside nine to backside nine in New Zealand.

Riders often sweep contests one season and barely podium the next-are you concerned?

No, I’m not too worried about it. I don’t put too much pressure on myself-otherwise I’d lose all the joy of snowboarding.

Whatever happened last season was great-but sometimes you do well, and sometimes you don’t. I have to move on and start looking toward a new year.

I read that the Olympics weren’t a big dream of yours. Explain.

I want to experience the Olympics, and I hope I do well, for sure. All I’m saying is that I didn’t start riding a snowboard with the intention of becoming an Olympian one day. It’s the biggest winter sport happening in the world. I mean, if you podium, your value as a professional snowboarder will rise.

Do the Olympics reflect what snowboarding is all about?

Not really. For me, snowboarding is about having fun and learning new stuff with my buddies. But if you’re into competitive snowboarding, there is no bigger arena.

Who’s an Olympic threat?

Risto Mattila is going to be hard to beat. I really hope Scotty Lago kills it this year. I’m sure Shaun White, Andy Finch, and Danny Kass are going to be tough. Markus Keller (Switzerland) and Crispin Lipscomb (Canada) are both really great pipe riders, too. And you can’t ever count out the Japanese guys-Kazu (Kazuhiro Kokubo) and Taka (Takaharu Nakai) will both be going huge.

You and Risto Mattila swapped first and second at the two pre-Olympic events in Italy last February. Are the two of you super competitive?

We’re friends first, but there’s definitely some competitiveness between us during contests. Risto is the most competitive person I know. He just loves to win, whether he’s playing pool, cards, or Ping-Pong-he’s on it.

Who’s your favorite pipe rider to watch?

Danny Kass. His riding always looks so easy and relaxed-and you never know what he’s going to do next.

Are you on a crazy diet and training regimen?

No diets! We have coaches, most countries do-but people have the wrong idea about the World Cup. You think we’re taking the whole thing too seriously. F-k that-if I do good, I’ll go party and try to stay true to the ten-percent rule!

How do you stay stoked?

Punk rock. I listen to music all the time, even when I’m riding-until my battery runs out. Turbonegro, Mà®tley Crà…e, Wasted, The Hellacopters, Social Distortion, and The Datsuns are amazing. Punk and rock is my thing.

How do you feel about being the third most-searched name on transworldsnowboarding.com?

Surprised-I’d go search for pictures of Jamie Lynn.

(Captions)

(Up Close Opener)

Demonstrating his style: treeslide in Ruka, Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi

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Portrait: Nick Hamilton

(Horizontal Shot/Tree On Left)

Mastavuori, Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi

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Annti does 1080s to win-this rotation is all steez. Sappee, Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi.

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You can take a Finn away from the kickers-but you can’t take the kicker out of a Finn. Ruka, Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi.

SN1105_ANT22.tif (sequence)

Warming up for the X-Games with a Cab 900 nosegrab. Buttermilk, Colorado. Sequence: Ryan Hughes.

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Antti’s a kicker kid at heart. We can’t ever remember seeing this maneuver off a straight jump before-frontside 900 tailgrab. Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi.

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This photo has an uncanny likeness to Jamie Lynn’s TWS cover from back in the day. Geiro, Norway. Photo: Ryan Hughes.

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Boreal, California. Photo: Ryan Hughes

Rami Hanafi

SN1105_ANT29.tif

Annti does 1080s to win-this rotation is all steez. Sappee, Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi.

SN1105_ANT25.tif

You can take a Finn away from the kickers-but you can’t take the kicker out of a Finn. Ruka, Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi.

SN1105_ANT22.tif (sequence)

Warming up for the X-Games with a Cab 900 nosegrab. Buttermilk, Colorado. Sequence: Ryan Hughes.

SN1105_ANT30.tif

Antti’s a kicker kid at heart. We can’t ever remember seeing this maneuver off a straight jump before-frontside 900 tailgrab. Finland. Photo: Rami Hanafi.

SN1105_ANT02.tif

This photo has an uncanny likeness to Jamie Lynn’s TWS cover from back in the day. Geiro, Norway. Photo: Ryan Hughes.

SN1105_ANT01.tif

Boreal, California. Photo: Ryan Hughes