V16N08 – Missing in Action: Michi Albin

Words by Matt Barr

Of all the Euro pros to emerge in the mid 90s, Michi Albin was about the only one who escaped the “next Terje” tag-he was too original for that. Not to disparage the timeless style of Haakon, but Albin was, and still is, a true visionary. If snowboarding is an extension of a rider’s personality, Michi’s riding in the epochal 1996 film Subjekt: Haakonsen suggested a man funny, eccentric, and intelligent. Style and originality still shine through his part today, almost seven years later-check the Cab five for proof of that. The following five years afterward he was a Burton A-team priority and one of the world’s most celebrated riders-blowing minds with crazily controlled spins off cliffs when such antics were a minority concern.

Michi Albin also did well in contests he designed to enter, like the Toyota Big Air. “Every year I traveled to Japan, and twice in a row won at Sapporo. I won the Nissan Big Air as well-I never got the win at the Innsbruck Air And Style, but had some good rankings there,” says Michi. Then, just as quickly as he arrived, he went quiet-right at the start of the season Albin was supposed to blow up proper-style. Rumors flew around the Euro scene that he’d been busted for weed possession or hadn’t filmed a strong enough part. Michi was quietly being dropped by Burton. All this, in the year his long-awaited model-with graphics by Mark Gonzales, no less-was finally due for release. His profile dwindled further, but word was out that he was riding as good as ever.

On Burton: “People think I was cut, but really my contract ran out. And my pro model-yeah, I had that board, and it was pretty good, too. I had a really good time with Burton, you know? I was with them a long time.”

Typically, Albin is now approaching this change on his own terms-continuing to ride hard and often-maintaining the stoke that still comes through loud and clear when he talks about his latest powder day. And there’s a new venture in the pipeline. “Next year I’m coming out with my own boards. I was talking to a lot of different companies to try and do something-then started shaping a custom board myself, and I liked it. I worked on it, and now I want to sell this thing. It’s a freestyle snowboard-a fast-turning 161 cm with some good pop. I might have a ’56 made in the same shape. What’s the name? Just ‘Albin.'”

And the future? “This is a special year. The ISF is dead, but there are still a lot of events happening. So it’s very freestyle, as no one knows how it’s going to go. I’ll show up at the events I like, and ride as hard as always-and have fun!”