I sure in hell never heard the name Frederik Kalbermatten until I was interviewing him. First thoughts-what business does some random have holding down our feature? Has he paid dues? Is he big in Europe? Sometimes I just can’t shake my jaded perspectives-too much time in the office. Caught again, looking through the eyes of a hater. A moment of clarity washed me clean. Shame and self-loathing set in-guilt soon led me to the light box, Freddy photos in hand.
It turns out Kalbermatten is serious-the punk is freeride finesse defined. And don’t even trip on the powder shots, Fred’s a technician, taking apart halfpipes as well. Style usually betrays a disposition, and accordingly, Frederik flows with an innate calmness, composed in every situation-unflappable. Last winter Kalbermatten made a strong push for mainstream recognition-welcome the new hero.
Why do you deserve an interview?
Because my pictures are the shit-and my riding’s dope. Just kidding, you need to find out about me, and I have to try to be funny so the kids will buy Burton, Anon, and Arcuswear clothes. I thought it would be in Snowboarder, ’cause rumor had it I was on their interview list. You should interview Britney Spears next.
Are you well-known in Europe?
Have you ever heard of Napoleon?
Do you know who Russell Winfield is?
Nope. Do you know Victor Giacobbo?
How many years have you been pro, and how old are you?
Am I pro? I’m 21.
Did you anticipate blowing up so hard?
No, but I knew if I kept filming and stomping like I always do, I would get the coverage I deserve. I don’t want to be arrogant because there are lots of good riders, but it takes a long time to reach the world if you only ride in Europe-it’s my time now.
Powder or transitions?
I choose powder terrain with transitions. Natural shit-because you never know when and if it’s going to snow again.
All your moves are tech-where did you learn them?
In the backcountry of Saas Fee, right where I started snowboarding.
How did the pipe skills develop?
The same as anyone else, there is a lot of practice and pain. You must also have some talent and a lot of style-style is always most important.
Name an American, a Euro, and a Scanner with style.
Devun Walsh-yes, I know he’s Canadian. Nicolas Mà...ller, and Heikki Sorsa.
Name the most difficult trick.
The hardest trick for me is switch backside in the pipe. On kickers I have worked really hard to develop a repertoire that is based around the four sevens. If you want to be an international player, then you have to dial all four sevens-frontside, backside, both regular and switch. This year I’m working on nines. Cab and backside are locked down, and frontside nines are close. That leaves only switch backside for the whole set. There’s a kicker in mind, but you’ll have to wait for next year’s movie and see if I make it.
Do you ever slide rails?
Yeah, I think you have to ride everything to call yourself an all-arounder, and there are very few. There are a lot of freestyle all-arounders, but not many riders as competent on a twenty-stair rail as they are in a 50-degree chute. I’ll try anything once-except hang the monkey.
I broke my nose in Chile after stomping a landing. I hit my knee right into my nose, broke my teeth and split my lips as well.
You’re pretty laid-back.
There are some places where I’m known as “Mellowmatten.” If I were a cowboy I’d be John Wayne. I never ride fast or speak fast, because I don’t have to. It’s as simple as that.
Do companies like Forum have any presence in Europe?
Not too much. They have Joni Malmi, which helps them in Scandinavia, but they only give pro models to their U.S. team and they don’t sponsor any central European riders. Kids are smart, and Forum is too caught up in the U.S. scene-it’s not a bad thing, but it n’t sell boards in Europe.
Tell me about Saas Fee.
Only about 1,300 people live here full-time, but there are way more people in the winter-about 10,000 with all the tourists and seasonal workers. Everything about Saas Fee is dope; we have no cars, so the air is clean, no high-rise buildings, and the best secret kicker terrain in Europe. There are no gangsters who try to make trouble-no killers. My family has lived here for many generations-this is my town.
Is your family well-off?
No. My dad was a ski instructor and a mountain guide in the summer. He had my sister and a brother to support as well. I’m not rich now, but live easily-I buy lots of electronics. Sometimes I think more money from my sponsors is in order-the chance may come when Notice To Appear is released.
Will you ever move?
Who knows, there are so many different paths in life, I can’t say. The mountains are where I want to be at the moment, but in the last few years I have started to explore-Bali, New Zealand, the States, and Scandinavia. I’m really enjoying seeing the world.
What did your pop expect you to do for a living?
My dad died in 1993. I was twelve when he passed away, but my mom is totally backing my snowboard career!
Is there another career path that interests you?
I wouldn’t mind trying to be a soccer player or a skater. I don’t spit and swear enough to play soccer, don’t have enough tattoos to be a pro skater, so it’s snowboarding for now. I have green fingers, so becoming a horticulturist later on sounds fun.
When did you start skiing?
I started skiing at about four years old-my mom took me out to learn ’cause my dad was too busy in the winter. She’s the best mom in the whole world. Snowboarding began at fourteen.
Have you spent much time in the U.S.?
I went to Mt. Hood twice and Tahoe three times last season. I also traveled to Alaska in April.
What are the biggest differences between home and the U.S.?
The mountains-we have really big mountains at home. And the snow, the stuff in Tahoe is too wet and heavy, it’s like hot powder. The people and the laws are different, and the wasting of the environment-too many cars. But each country has its own set of problems.
What problems do the Swiss face?
There is an overpopulaion of foreigners in Switzerland-one out of five, about eighteen percent. Petrol is f-king expensive as well.
Is it neccesary to film in the U.S.?
Yeah, all the big movie companies are in America. I’d like to get a filmer and complete my whole part in Switzerland and around Europe next year. Only travel to the States in April for Alaska. I shot at home for Vivid. Nearly every backcountry kicker in my part is from Saas Fee.
Aren’t there film companies in Europe?
Not really, I think kids in America just buy more snowboard videos than Europeans. People have tried without success. Maybe I’ll do a super-dope movie one day with my friends. Absinthe is kind of Euro-Justin Hostynek is Swiss originally, and Patrick Armbruster is as well. There are mainly European riders in the movie.
You shot for two movies?
I was supposed to work with Absinthe for Vivid only, then Burton called and told me I was going to shoot with Standard for Notice To Appear. I had already made a commitment to Patrick, so I tried hard to film for both movies.
Could you get in these movies without Burton?
Definitely not into the Standard movie. I love Burton (laughing)!
What’s more important-where you’re riding, or whom you’re riding with?
I think it’s more about who you’re riding. Woo-hoo!
Does Burton have all the Euro talent locked?
Their European rookie team is the best they’ve ever had. Nicolas Mà...ller, Heikki Sorsa, Jaako Sepp l , JP Solberg, Mads Jonsson, Mini Karpf, and me. There are so many amazing riders waiting to come up, but it’s good for progession ’cause everyone is going nuts trying to make the international team. It’s f-king time to promote some rookies to the global team.
cause everyone is going nuts trying to make the international team. It’s f-king time to promote some rookies to the global team.