It takes a precise blend of talent and originality to stand out in snowboarding. Fridtjof Sæther Tischendorf, or "Fridge" as we have come to know him, has it. But success in snowboarding isn't solely measured by one's ability to stand out. It's also reliant on a maintained compelling presence. Preserving the latter requires a delicate balance of personality, professionalism, and performance--something Fridge is committed to.
The Norwegian rider first caught our attention at Superpark in 2017. His high-velocity take on snowboarding was accentuated by his insouciant attitude and unorthodox style. He wears a loose backpack when he rides; a head-turning rarity that began as a joke amongst friends and a tribute to his avatar in Skate 2. He's flamboyant and jovial, and these qualities radiate in his riding and bizarre trick innovation.
When combined, his many attributes create a personality in snowboarding that is unique to itself. So while Fridge's snowboarding had cemented him on our radar, there was still much about the man with the backpack we didn't know. I recently reached out to Fridge with the intent of peeling back a bit of that film. What I found was a refined personality that exists beyond his outlandishly wild antics, one that is appreciative of balance and longevity. This is the Fridge that we need to keep an eye on, for this is the one that is sticking around. — Owen Ringwall
Are you really from a place called Chicken Falls? Is that real?
That is real. If you translate 100% from Norwegian to English, it's Chicken Falls. Have you ever watched the movie Surf's Up? You know Chicken Joe? In the Norwegian language, he is from Chicken Falls too.
Right down the road from you, huh?
I've heard you're afraid of slipping in the shower.
I actually am, I almost slipped yesterday. It was like woah-that was way too close.
Do you have any other strange fears?
Everything else is pretty reasonable I think. Oh, actually I don't like crabs either. Ever since I was a kid. I was afraid to stand in water because I thought a crab would jump up and bite me on a toe or something. Never touch your feet on squishy ground or anything like that, that is always really nasty and sketchy.
That's hilarious. So from your perspective, what have the last few years been like? Ever since Superpark two years ago, you've been making a name for yourself.
I guess it's pretty much the same for me. I haven't noticed much of a difference. I definitely felt a lot of love during Superpark. That was unreal to be invited and to go there with Halldór and all of those guys. I remember waking up after the party super hungover and seeing Johnny O' Connor in the apartment cleaning hot sauce out of Halldór's hair and feeling pretty star-struck at the moment because I had never met JOC. That sticks to my mind for sure.
Growing up, who have been some of your main sources of inspiration?
Mikkel Bang has been one of my biggest inspirations since I was young. I have always been one of the taller riders, so I really looked up to his style and his way of riding. I would watch his snowboard part every night before going to sleep--that was like my bedtime story. And then Alek Oestreng is such a sick rider, and I love to watch how he handles pretty much every type of terrain.
Do you know them personally?
I know Alek, but I haven't really gotten to know Mikkel all that much. He was the generation before me, so I've only met him a couple of times. He dropped out of the national team when I started riding for the junior national team.
The national teams definitely steer riders in the direction of competitions, do you have plans to break into the filming side of things at all?
I am definitely trying. I got the chance to go film for a couple of weeks with Lobster this past season, and that was really fun--also difficult. I didn't get all that many tricks, but at least I got a little feel for what backcountry riding is like. Hopefully, I get the chance to do more of that this season. I am probably going to try and film just a few small edits, do some fun park stuff, try to produce some more film footage for sure.
Tell me a bit about what it's like living in Norway. What have you been up to this summer?
This summer has been pretty beautiful actually; we have had the best weather in Norway so far. I work out at the Olympic training center and try to stay in shape. I went to FONNA to snowboard, I went on this little trip to Copenhagen, did a tour on the subway and skated a bit, and I went to the Lobster office in Amsterdam and pretty much have just been cruising around having a great time.
Of course, there are always parties going on, but I have actually been mellowing things down with the partying this summer. When it comes to the winter I want to be in the best shape as I possibly can be.
Do you have any tricks for staying focused?
It's difficult. But snowboarding has been something that I have loved to do since I was a little kid. It can be easy to get sidetracked and do other fun things all the time, but sometimes it's good to remember why you started snowboarding in the first place--so you can do the best you can and keep going for as long as possible. I am not really the best person to be talking about all of this... I guess I fuck up a lot as well.
But once you get in a bit of a routine with working out it becomes way easier. You feel it as well, you feel much nicer when you stay active. It doesn't have to be lifting weights all the time either. I go skateboarding a lot, that is probably the best work out I do. Just skate for a couple of hours each day. It’s so much fun that you don't really even notice that you're getting sweaty. You wake up the next day and you are super sore, but you had a great time.
When did you start developing your own style? When did the backpack first catch on?
It's hard to develop your own style. I think everyone has this little kid style that doesn't develop until you start growing up. It's mostly about just being comfortable in your own body. I want to make a living off snowboarding, but I don't want to make a living if it is not myself. You need to be happy with yourself, because if you're not, then it will suck to be someone else for the rest of your life--someone you don't want to be. Just try to express yourself as much as you can, and hopefully, people like it. That's what I am trying to do. It is difficult at times for sure.
The backpack thing wasn't really planned out; I have just been playing a lot of Skate 2 during summer and preseason. At the end of the season a few years back--at the World Championships--we were staying at this shitty hotel, and we would always go down to the city and just hang around the shopping mall most of the time, spending money at cheap stores. I said to my friend as a joke, "Would it be funny if I bought this backpack and rode with it in the big air contest?" He was just like, "Hell yeah!" And that's how it started.
Has it ever thrown off your riding?
Not really. But I don't have the strap across my chest, so it gets pretty loose. Sometimes I lose it. When I went into the backcountry for the first time last season, I would ragdoll so much and my backpack would just rip off. So yeah, it fell off quite a bit, I had to tie it together to make it work again. It's pretty beaten up.
Are you going to keep it going?
Yeah, I'm actually pretty hyped on riding with a backpack. It works out way better than I expected, and it's really pretty convenient to ride with.
Has your perspective on snowboarding changed since you've started gaining more attention?
That has been a big thing for me to figure out--what it is like to be a snowboarder. That is probably the most eye-opening part, because some of the people you've looked up to maybe aren't the big idols you thought, and others that are not your idols might just change as you grow up. Just like how your whole perspective on life changes through snowboarding. It is all pretty incredible.
Can you elaborate on that a bit?
When I started snowboarding, the first people I looked up to at my local resort, they were telling me, "You need to be real, and you need to be all of this stuff," but to be real... I don't know, you know the "real talk" you hear from people that never end up making it? It turns out some are slightly alcoholic snowboarders that enjoy having fun way too much, and then they forget that they are actually going to snowboard. They show up one hour before the resort closes, and then forget why they actually started snowboarding--because snowboarding is what's fun, and that is what they wanted to do. They just got hung up on the party scene.
Right. They lost sight of their goal.
I think that is the most difficult part for me--turning 21 and trying to figure out how to balance the party scene of snowboarding with the actual snowboarding. Going on trips, you really want to get clips and get shit done, so you go out and work pretty much. You don't go out and try a little bit, then go to the bar to drink. I think a lot of people have that perspective of snowboarders. That we're just like these party animals. Now, people are now turning it into this athlete style approach, and working out all the time and not doing anything that is not serious. To me, it's about trying to find the balance in between all of this. And that is a really difficult road to find; there is no perfect way to do it.
What has helped you with balance?
I think Halldór--meeting him has been a pretty insane experience. Because you see a lot of partying from him for sure, but he is actually super professional as well when it comes to sending emails, keeping everyone updated, and keeping the crew posted. He really does a great job. He takes it seriously, and he's not going to go out and drink until he has enough shots. You've probably heard about the ten shot rule before he can get blacked out.
Definitely. Well having that awareness is important, without a doubt.
I hope I figure out something where I can be myself, and someone else likes that. Then I can get paid enough to make a living out of it. That way I don't need to work in some thrift shop or something during the summer.