Country of citizenship: Finland
Sponsors: Burton, Smith, DVS, and Matix
Stance: Regular. Twenty-one degrees front, zero back, and 21 inches wide.
Hometown: Kirkkonummi, Finland
Home mountain: Talma
Years riding: 11
U.S. arrival: ’97 for the U.S. Open
Describe a winter’s day at your home mountain.
It’s icy with small hills. It’s dark (in Winter), so it’s all night riding, but still so much fun-I love it.
What was your first setup?
A Snow Mogul-some weird plastic board we bought from my friend for two dollars.
Who did you ride with back then?
We had a little crew in the town where I’m from-mostly with Timo Aho and a couple other friends. Now, I mostly ride with the Robot Food guys and whoever else comes along … it’s still best to go snowboard with your friends back home.
How important are sports in Finland?
There is lot of good athletics out there … but funny, people look up to cross-country skiers like real athletes, and they all got busted on drugs-“doping” in last year’s World Championships. That was a good check out for people-especially ’cause everyone thinks snowboarders are like shit. Now it’s all about snowboarding.
Which past Scanners have influenced you?
Definitely Ingemar Backman.
How has the scene changed since the first two waves of Scandinavians?
Those guys pretty much opened doors for the rest of us. Ami Voutilainen and Joni Makinen got in, and they hooked up Joni Malmi, Wille Yli-Luoma, and bunch of others, and still it is the same spirit. It’s rad to help people out … make someone’s dream come true.
Have you completed your compulsory military service?
I haven’t done it yet, and hopefully I won’t. It’s a waste of time playing war in the woods and listening to some seventeen-year-old kids giving you shit.
Which American riders do you like watching?
Brushie was sick back in the day.
Any crazy travel stories from visits here?
Actually, the first time after the U.S. Open, we went to dinner in Burlington with Jimmy Halopoff and Steve Astephen (formerly of Lamar, now The Familie). I had some ghetto pasta there, and after that we went to see a movie. So we watched the movie, and I started to feel all weird. Five seconds later-I was throwing up all over the theater. I couldn’t stop it. I threw up like ten times before I got to the restroom. I felt so bad for people in the theater.
Was it a struggle to adjust to landing tricks in powder?
I rode pipe contests forever, and after the (’98) Olympics, I came over to film with Standard, and it was pretty comic out there. I tried hard, but it just wasn’t happening … felt like I couldn’t snowboard, it was awful.
What’s been the hardest thing to adjust to in America?
It’s just a hassle to come here every time, customs and immigration and all that bullshit. I’m hoping to get a working visa anytime, then it’s all perfect.
Do you have difficulties with taxes from riding for American companies?
I got a call from the U.S. IRS a couple years back. They flew some lady over to Finland to check my taxes. I was panicking for a while, but I had a good lawyer at home who took care of it. So since then, I’ve been paying taxes here as well, which is not too rad!
When traveling around the U.S., do you seek out others from your area to hang with first?
It’s always good to hook up with the Finnish Mafia!
Who are your picks for up-and-coming Scanners?
Iikka Baeckstroem, Lauri Heiksari, Mads Jonsson, Jaakko Sepp l , the Eeros Niemel and Ettala-and Heikki Sorsa is stupid good. There are so many good guys coming up from Scanland-we’re gonna take it over!