Forward: Joni Makinen
Words by Cody Dresser

Big Bear, California, circa ’96-Joni Makinen was churning out the cleanest Cab 540s ever, repeatedly. Each trick higher and farther, a swift poke added as an exclamation. “How long will his knees last?” I muttered as Joni spun and overshot an icy kicker, stomping again. It just couldn’t be worked out-he was airing past the tranny and landing without bending his damn legs. How much abuse could this Finnish kid take?
Six years later, Joni’s still clearing the landings with both knees intact-luckily, powder’s more forgiving than the daily park hits of years past. The Mak hasn’t come away unscathed, however. Last season was a test of fortitude as Joni battled several physical mishaps. In a year many would have spent on injured reserve, Makinen has kept working and showed true grit. He’s hiked and toiled with the best of them, earning a movie part and winning a major slopestyle event along the way. An exhibition of inner strength, these photos showcase a season of determination-Makinen pushing the issue.

PULL QUOTES
The neck: “If I get even a very small whiplash, it feels like somebody is stabbing a knife in the back of my head.”
Physical pain versus mental strain: “I think the mind games are harder-you always feel like you have to be careful but still try and get really good stuff done.”
Bitterness: “I’m more quiet than bitter-if I don’t have anything to say, I’m just sitting there quietly.”
After snow: “Sleeping. It’s the best thing ever-it’s so fun! I sleep all of the summertime, but in the winter I’m trying to get more work done and sleep less.