Juha Tenkku: Missing In Action

By Max Jenke

Last summer Paavo Tikkanen invited me to hang out in Europe for a couple of months: sounded fun. I immediately jumped on a plane and flew to Helsinki, Finland, where I fell in love with every blond-haired blue-eyed girlie (which means all of them!)–and found some of snowboarding’s lost stars. One of them was Juha Tenkku. All I remember of this kid was his interview in TransWorld. His opening portrait five years ago is what Trevor Andrew is now: big-ass Gucci glasses, headphones, the whole ghetto-fabulous outfit. So what happened to him? Read and find out.

TransWorld SNOWboarding: Hey Juha, I heard you’re making a comeback next year.

Juha Tenkku: Yeah, yeah laughs.

Juha Tenkku returns to snowboarding?

Snowboarding for life?

So why’d you drop off the scene? I saw your section in TB5. They’re on TB10 now.

Fuck you laughs.

Hey Cab nine, you gonna ride for Burton again?


Why not?

Don’t want to.

Or they don’t want you?

I don’t want them.

Why not?

They hassling–that’s why I got sick of it. You go from this country to that country, you’re never home. I started because I got sick of staying here Helsinki. And now it’s all crazy, ’cause it’s all about the money.

No, it’s not.

It’s fucking all about money.

Yeah okay, not passion?

No, that first, then the money. You don’t need to do much for a snowboard living. But I’m kinda happy that I already did snowboard. Yeah, I must be happy for that.

What, you don’t want to snowboard again?

Yeah, I want to. But you know, I’m happy, I’ve already done it a lot. I don’t have to complain so much.

If you started up again, would you have to make money, or would you do it for fun?

Shut the fuck up.

I think you’d do it for fun.

Yeah, I’m really good at it.

Did you just say you’re really good at it? Are you cocky?

Yeah. You know what? No one can really never get sick of me.

Oh yeah?

But you know what it’s really like at first–how it works with the money? I used to never think of the money.

So, why were you thinking that?

I knew I got some part in the movie, I guess they were happy with me, but I was young. I say, “I want $5,000 a month or $6,000.” And they say, “You get $2,000.” And I say, “Fuck you.”

Were you happy?

I guess I was supposed to be happy for a while.

So you still weren’t happy?

Yeah, but since they started to pay me, they start to push me a lot. And they changed the European team manager to some fat motherfucker who was ready to do everything: “Go buy a computer, you make enough money.” I never go buy a computer, I didn’t even want to talk on the phone. And I also at the same time I was sick of traveling, so it was a good point to stop.

Why didn’t you stop traveling and just ride in Finland, or ride for someone else?

That’s the fuckin’ plan.

When did you leave Burton?

Four years ago.

What the hell have you been doing since?

Just chilling with my girl.

So now it’s time to go snowboarding again?

Yeah, ’cause my girl goes to work every morning, and I don’t have anything to do.

What about drinking 40s or bottles of champagne?

Not many days. I’ve been going to church for bread and food. I don’t have money, many times. And I own a house, but I have to pay payments, and I don’t have money for that.

Where do you live?

In the projects, you know, the ghetto. You come to hang out there, you see how many alcoholics there are, junkies, and they’re all my friends. I live in the same building as I was born. It’s the oldest building in that area. And people know me from magazines and movies, and when I walk outside with a 40, they say “Put your fuckin’ beer away,” and yell, “Go ride!” And it’s good because they know they ain’t gonna do shit, and I might.

So you’re goonna go traveling again, do some competitions?

Yeah, competitions if they have 100-grand, I go make one jump. The plan is not to give a shit, not to care about the whole snowboarding scene, just snowboard.