People tend to think pros as untouchables who can ride it all from backcountry descents to the gnarliest urban. The reality is that most are just normal guys, who are extremely good at skiing the terrain that's on their doorsteps. But those skills don't always transition smoothly to other types of riding. Last winter Amplid team rider Kevin Salonius joined the brand's top tier team, the Cartel. Before then, his riding had been limited to what's available in and around Finland. To relieve some of his curiosity and to give hard working Kevin the Rookie Season of his dreams, Amplid sent him on a voyage of skiing discovery to learn how to ski new terrain and snow conditions from his team mates. I caught-up with Kevin to find-out more about the journey and Rookie Season, the four part series documenting his adventures.
So firstly for everyone who doesn't know, tell me a bit about you!
Well my name is Kevin Salonius and I'm a freeskier from southern Finland. I live in a town called Kirkkonummi which is just outside the Finnish capital, Helsinki. I skied for the first time in 1995 when I was two years old and then I got into freeskiing sometime around 2008. I have been skiing for Amplid for two years now.
What's skiing like around Helsinki?
I think the ski and snowboard scene around here is really cool and pretty unique. We don't have any mountains here; the skiing here is totally different from places with big mountains like the Alps. It really shows how dedicated we are and how much love all the skiers and snowboarders have towards their sport. It's a thirty minute drive from my place to the local ski hill, which is called Serena Ski. I work in the the park crew there and it's where I go shredding with all my friends when I'm at home and not filming urban. Serena is only has 55 meters vertical, there are a couple normal slopes and one terrain park. The Serena park usually has around 10 rails and one big jump, because of the short slopes and fast lifts you can easily get a hundred runs in a day. What I really like about the scene here is that it is pretty tight-knit and it's a little bit like "everyone-knows-everyone", at least between the more dedicated riders, that's how I feel anyway. I think the good thing about living here in the Helsinki area is that there is pretty much unlimited access to urban spots, which is also why there are tons of riders into filming urban. So whenever there is enough snow in the city everybody is out there trying to film. Last winter in Helsinki there was only enough snow to film in the streets for around 3-4 weeks, so it was a pretty short and bad snow year. Even when it's bad we always find enough snow to make it happen.
Tell me about the trips you went on for Rookie Season and how it came about?
I was talking with Rich, Amplid's team manager, about how I'd only ever skied park and urban. He thought it would be a fun project for me to visit the other Cartel riders in their home countries and learn how to ride new terrain and snow conditions... a kind of learning on the job kinda thing. The plan developed from there.
In February I went on the first trip to Germany and Austria, I went to the ISPO trade show with Amplid and then in Austria we went to Flachauwinkl to ski the famous Absolut Park with Mac Minikan, then got some freeriding in at Zell Am Ziller with Andi Nitsche and Teddy Berr. In March I flew to Vercorin in Switzerland to ski backcountry jumps with Alex Neuhror and Julien Lange. We filmed with Yann Barthelemy from GPSY Feelin which was really rad. My last trip was to Spain and Andorra in April. I hung out with my good friend and filmer Borja Azurmendi and skied with Luka, Noah and the rest of the Round 2 crew. I also had the opportunity to ride my first international slopestyle comp.
Has the Rookie Season experience changed your ambitions in skiing?
Getting to ski powder definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities of backcountry riding, so that is something I'm definitely interested in exploring more in the future. And I feel that skiing with all the new friends that I met during the last winter really has helped me improve my skiing and has grown my opinion of the international freeski community in a really positive way.
Any thanks and shout-outs?
Thanks to my family, all my friends and all of the new skiers that I met last winter. And of course, a BIG thanks to all my sponsors for supporting my skiing! Peace!
Full Interview with Kevin: http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/Rookie-Season-Kevin-Salonius-Interview