Taking a moment to pause and reflect is difficult for all walks of life. Professional snowboarders are no exception, and Antti Autti will be the first to corroborate this.
Once regarded as one of the best half pipe riders in the world, Antti has experienced the pressures of a professional career firsthand. He was an Olympian, the first European X Games champion, and a staple on any contest lineup. However, in 2010--at the peak of his career--Antti decided to retire from competition. Powder was calling, and the creativity-restricting event diet had become too much.
But Antti isn't a passive professional. His devotion to snowboarding never faulted when he traded bibs and judges for cameras and helicopters. It took a keen self-awareness to make the transition, but even then he only substituted one consuming force for another. Instead of joining an existing film crew, he started his own and created Approach & Attack, Statements, and Arctic Lights. A transition had occurred, but a trying life on the road prevailed.
Just recently, Antti published a blog post titled, "When the Plate Is Too Full," and reminded us once again of the often overlooked stresses facing professional athletes. "I've always thought of myself as an energized person who can keep going like a Duracell bunny. This summer, however, I started to feel the signs that I might be hitting the wall soon if I don't start cutting down on some of the things that are on my plate," he wrote.
With his fourth film project, Closer, nearing completion, and his recent words lingering on our mind, we reached out to the reflective Finn. For Antti, the pursuit of self-awareness has never slowed but rather matured with age. He sees things differently now, and while his devotion to snowboarding has been steadfast, his approach has become reflective of the realities one faces twenty years into a career. This is Antti Autti, refined and ruminative.
You recently wrote a blog post expressing your desire for a break and a bit of a reset.
To be honest, I haven't had a real summer vacation or break since I became a professional snowboarder. I am always traveling and am very hands-on with everything related to my snowboarding. So, when I decided to quit competing I became involved in the production side of things as well. I never filmed with any film crews; I was just supported by my sponsors to start doing my own thing. Which was really cool--but after Arctic Lights, I got a lot of offers and opportunities so I was traveling even more. This summer I was just really beat. I figured it was pretty cool to write the blog because I think a lot of people--in our industry, but also a lot of other industries--are most likely going through the same thing.
It's hard to slow down.
Totally. I thought social media could help me change the course of my career, and it really did help me, but now it is just so hectic all of the time. At some point it really just becomes too much, and you need to decide what are the things that you want to focus on. Hopefully you can focus on the riding itself as well; after all, that is the most important part.
Other than taking a break from riding this summer, have you implemented any other practices to slow yourself down?
I am trying to stay off my phone. It really isn't all that easy. I know that I am definitely addicted to my own digital world. One thing that I am always trying to learn is how to not do anything. When you are checking and scrolling, and you're playing with the digital stuff all the time–you're not really thinking much. And when you are actually bored, you end up having more ideas and doing more thinking. I started running more, because for me that has always been quite boring. That really helped me a lot. Just getting myself into a meditation mindset.
Are you going to continue blogging regularly?
Yeah, I think I am going to do one a month. I really want to write about things that matter a little bit and people can relate to and talk about. That's sort of the idea I have in my mind about the blog. Of course, we will put all of the films and everything else up there as well.
Is it therapeutic?
It is very much so. To be honest, when I started writing that last blog post, I was supposed to write about what is coming out this year from my end. And then I realized after looking at it, that maybe I should just write something about how I actually feel about this whole situation. I'm freaking full.
It's important to talk about things that stretch beyond just snowboarding, you don't often see that from someone in your role.
No, in our lifestyle we are focusing on showing the goods, or showing the struggle. But you know, there isn't really any talking about what the life is actually like for a professional athlete outside of the act itself. I really want to inspire people through my snowboarding and my films, but I also want to touch on these matters that I think are really important.
Has it gotten any easier to produce your films over the years?
It was much easier earlier. Now it has become more about creating a nice concept than trying to think about how these projects will benefit my sponsors and myself. I want to create a new concept every year and do things differently, whether it's focusing on the riding, or the riding and the filming side of things, or one major mission. It is important to have a goal before you start the season and to be clear with what it is.
So what is this video project like in comparison to past projects?
The best way to put it is that it's for the core audience. It's really made just for snowboarding. It is more like a mixtape of my riding. We've done a lot of follow cams, and we've just been trying to shoot a lot of super close and tight riding. So it is definitely different than Arctic Lights, where that was a very personal project, this one is really just snowboarding and not so much the struggle.
That must be a nice change of pace after a very personal project last season. Something a little more spirited and true to snowboarding sounds refreshing.
Yeah, I needed that. I needed a season of just snowboarding because of snowboarding. And that was really cool because at the end of the season I started to realize that I am setting goals for things that I want to do again.
Arctic Lights began the discussion around your awareness of needing a balance in life. It sounds like this new film is the perfect continuance of last year's story, only now instead of talking about it, you are living it.
Definitely, it's more about personal growth. I needed to do Arctic Lights because I wanted to do one project where I was really focusing. Arctic Lights was perfect because there were a lot of lines in Sweden that I wanted to do. It's nice to think that you can actually have a really nice winter and live up here in the north too. You don't have to always travel super far out. But this year I was keen to get out and travel and check new spots. The only plan we really had is how we were going to film, but we didn't really set any certain locations or lines that we wanted to film.
How has creating these projects changed your opinion on what qualifies as success?
I am the type of rider that wants to ride every day, and wants to get shots every day. When we go out, were filming and were trying to make something happen. Last year we set goals for certain lines and destinations–and that was sort of easy for me to do, because of my competitive history. But now, this year, the goal was basically how do we film these different shots. Every year we have a goal, but the goal can change. I think it took Arctic Lights for me to understand that, and once I did, it sort of made our approach to this new film, Closer, that much easier. It is easier to focus now. We still set goals, but they are different now.