This morning at 3:00, Swedish time, I had my alarm set for what I used to consider one of the most exciting events in snow sports, the X-Games ski Big Air.
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Interview by Josh Bishop
At 17 years old, Henrik Harlaut is one of the most talented skiers in the world. This season, he won European Open, Nine Knights, Aspen Open and Monster Park Invitational where he landed the first switch 1620 in competition. Despite his hectic competition schedule, he managed to film with 4bi9 Media, Level 1 Productions, Field Productions, and Matchstick Productions. Generally regarded as hilarious, Henrik is constantly entertaining to those around him with jokes, limitless energy, and absurd talent. With fluid style, flawless doubles, mind-blowing rail prowess and a style unique unto himself, Henrik is helping create the future of skiing. Aside from his accomplishments as an athlete, Henrik is just a 17-year old kid, skiing for himself and having fun everyday he’s on skis. To Henrik, it’s not about the money or the recognition, it’s about doing what you love and inspiring kids to ski for themselves and develop their own style. While in Mammoth, Henrik and I sat down to talk about style, fun, and highlights from the 08/09 season. - Josh Bishop
What’s up buddy? Where are we right now?
What’s good Beeeshop, we in Mammoth, California, yadadamean?
What are you doing out here?
First I was out here for the Salomon Jib Academy, the third season’s finals, and now I am out here for the Level 1 park shoots.
Nice, how was Jib Academy?
Jib Academy was fun. Unfortunately it was kind of windy pretty much the whole time so we didn’t get to hit the jump on the backside like we wanted to. It was like a step down they built especially for us. But, I didn’t like it too much. It was still fun. I shredded a lot with my homey B-Paul and we had a lot of fun.
Jib Academy Finals. photo: Jeff Schmuck
There were so many good kids out here for Jib Academy. Did your boy from Åre end up winning?
Yessir! Simon Eriksson.
Any other kids you want to give shout-outs to that slayed the event?
Pretty much everyone slayed out here. I thought Spencer (Milbocker) did really good work. Also to the little Jiberish kid, actually I don’t know if he’s really on Jiberish, but he will be in a year or two. His name is Seamus Flanagan.
Hell yeah, how are the park shoots going?
Really, really good actually. Been getting them shots just like we want to.
What features have you guys been hitting?
Pretty much all kinds of features. Everything from big ass step downs, step overs, cannon box with gap, gap bonking trees. Pretty everything that can exist in the park.
Aspen Open. photo: John Vandervalk
How was your winter? Did you take down every competition you entered?
Yeah, I had a lot of fun at the comps, it turned out better than I expected. I don’t know what more to say. I’m super, super happy about it. I won European Open, Aspen Open, Monster Park Invitational and also Nine Knights, both the rail comp and the big air comp. And then, an English big air comp that was on plastic.
That’s crazy, how was that?
It was an experiment. At first I couldn’t even do a 360 on the plastic, because it was like a water ramp kicker but you had to also land on a water ramp in-run, which is weird. Real wild, shit’s crazy.
So sick. What did you do for a trick?
Rodeo 9 mute to opp Japan
What was your favorite competition that you skied all year?
Hmmm favorite competition….like slope or?
Slope, rail, big air….anything.
I really, really liked Aspen Open because of the cannon box. I thought that was really, really fun. The last stop at Dew Tour was real fun too. I didn’t even make it to finals on that stop, but B-Dog aka Phil Casabon didn’t make it either, so we just shredded the public park and had a lot of fun. And also our brother Tom Wallisch won the whole thing. You don’t have to be happy just for yourself, you can also be happy for your friends if you know what I’m saying.
Yeah, I saw your edit from Northstar, you guys slayed.
Yeah it was mad fun.
How was Nine Knights? That competition always gets a little bit of coverage but not to the extent that Super Sessions receives. What’s it all about?
Yeah, this year was a little bit like Super Sessions. It first started off just sessioning the whole day, morning and sunset at the jump that I thought was really, really fun. Then we had two bad days where we had two soccer tournaments that my team ended up winning, so that was fun too. On one of them days, it was the rail comp, then on Saturday it was supposed to be the quarter pipe/big air comp. JF Houle, one of my really good friends came out, and another judge Ralph, who is the best judge in my opinion and always making really good decisions. They decided to have a competition based on all the shots from the entire week. Then that Saturday night it was the awards, and all the photographers presented their best five photos. I also got an award for the best big air. I won the big air comp and the rail comp.
Nine Knights. photo: Christoph Schoech
That’s sick. Was the only rail feature that down flat-down with a kick at the end?
Yeah, just on that.
Was it like a jam session or was there a specific tick that you won with?
It was based on a specific trick. On the first roller I did 360 switch up, then came down to the second kink and did a switch up, and after another roller did pretzel two. It’s a lot of spinning, it’s not really how I’ve been pushing it this season, but I was stoked about it.
Nine Knights. photo: Christoph Schoech
Who did you film with this year?
I filmed a lot with Level 1 and 4bi9. Also filmed a little bit just recently with Matchstick Productions up in Åre. Also, mostly pre-season but a little bit during the season with Field Productions, and then one of the filmers on my team at JOSS named Andreas Olofsson was filming for a Swedish company and he was thinking about putting some shots of me in their movie.
Sounds like you got work done this season!
Yeah, more or less. I can’t believe I managed to film that much and still do so many comps. I guess I spent three and a half months in America this season, just gillin with B-Dog and Wallisch all over the place.
What about filming with 4bi9? I know you always make it a point to travel with AJ Dakoulas and Andrew Napier a lot filming handrails.
Yeah, unfortunately at the moment, I haven’t filmed any jump shots with 4bi9, but I spent like four weeks in SLC just to get all the handrails that I wanted and I don’t know, I had luck or something. I got every rail just exactly as I planned with 4bi9. That made me feel excellent. I had so much fun. I don’t know man, I don’t wanna claim tricks and also, I want to keep the hype for the new 4bi9 movie, So Far So Hood. Don’t expect too much, it’s just fun.
What else went on? Did you do anything or travel anywhere that wasn’t necessarily in the media or the competition scene?
Just been practicing. Went home for a few days, shredded with my homies, some brothers called Victor Salen, Morten Grape and also Niklas Eriksson who won Superunknown this year. Just had a lot of fun. It’s not just about filming or competing, it’s all about having the love of skiing and doing it for fun.
photo: Kevin Kruse
Speaking of fun, I saw you shredding on snowblades the entire day in Mammoth’s Unbound park.
Yeah, I shredded snowblades today, but only for one reason. I know it’s the ugliest sport you can do, the most hated sport you can do and it’s not steezy in anyway. But I skied it today and had a whole lot of fun. I did a couple of tricks on them like switch misty 10, some good zero spins, and a cork 7 silencer.
Do you snowblade because it’s hilarious or does it help with your balance?
I’m not doing it because of balance help, but I’m sure it helps something. You really have to be on point on your landings. I guess it’s good for you, but it’s just mostly because it’s fun and hilarious. Just skiing around feels like you have inlines or your feet. At first you don’t have very good balance, but then you start progressing faster than you ever thought possible. You learn straight airs with a grab to switch misty 10’s in one day, just like I did today. That doesn’t really happen to people usually on normal skis. So it’s different and fun.
That was one of the most comical things I have ever seen. Everyone on the lift was laughing so hard.
Yeah, it’s really fun.
That’s one of the things I always notice about you, you always keep it fun and keep it fresh. Sure you’re out here to get shots and do work, but at the same time you’re out here with your friends sessioning and learning new tricks for yourself.
Totally. Even ask the guys that work here. I’ve been here now for two weeks, and it’s only like half a day of cloudy skies. The rest of the time it’s been sunny. I was asking the Mammoth employees if they ever have a week of bad weather and they told me Mammoth gets 300 out of 365 days of sun every year. I was just shocked. Like, this is the illest place.
Mammoth. photo: Jeff Schmuck
That’s sick. So you like Mammoth then?
Yeah! Third year in a row I’m coming out here. Thanks to Jenny Naftulin for that and also to Josh Berman for inviting me to the Level 1 park shoots.
What are you looking forward to next season? Is there anything you want to accomplish?
My next thing is a double project together with B-Dog. I’m sorry but, we’re trying to keep it on the down low. We don’t really want to talk about it. But we have come up with something that we think is the most fun project to do over the whole season. I gotta give a shout out to my boy Joakim Åslund, who’s going to have a really big part in the whole project. I think everyone on Newschoolers will really enjoy it hopefully.
photo: Jeff Schmuck
You seem to get a lot of love on Newschoolers. What are your thoughts on the website?
Yeah I’m super pumped. More than anything I love to go online there and check out all am skiers and non-famous skiers just putting up movies and seeing how much effort kids put in when they hit rails or building their summer set ups, I just think it’s a cool thing that you can see that. I don’t know how to describe it. I like it a lot.
How was JOSS this year?
Super Sessions this year was super different but I had a blast. I haven’t shredded with Laurent in quite some time, but we have known each other for so long, like since I was eleven or ten years old and now working as a team with him and two of my best friends as filmers was just a lot of fun. Not the best weather, but we were creating and trying to hit as many jibs as possible. I had so much fun out there.
JOSS: Team Europe
That rules. The video you put together was so ill. You had some really smooth dubs in there. When did you learn those?
Dub 12 I learned on one normal public park day up in Åre when me and my homey Victor were shredding there. They rebuilt the jumps so they were a little bit bigger. I did some cork 7’s and I wanted to try a double 12 all season because I can do them super well on a trampoline so I decided to give it a shot. First try I landed but my ski popped off and I rode away, second try I landed and fell to the side, third try I landed it. I think I’ve actually only fallen once since I first tried it. It’s a fun trick, not too hard actually.
Do you have any recommendations for athletes looking to try doubles?
To be honest, I just think you got to do exactly what you think, exactly what your thoughts are. I don’t want to be pushing anyone to do doubles if they don’t think it’s cool or if they’re not feeling it. So, I don’t know really, just if you have good thoughts of doubles you should only be doing them. If you want to keep it mellow you can still do that. I know a lot of kids out there that are not doing doubles but are still my favorite skiers out there. For example, Mike Hornbeck is up there, Ahmet Dadali, B-Dog is not really pushing the doubles. It’s not all about doubles, it’s just one little aspect. You don’t get respect from me if you’re good at skiing, you get respect from me if you’re a person I like to hang out with. I would rather see ill cork nines than just hucked dub flat nines.
JOI. photo: Dan Brown
Do you notice that at all? Do you see skiers focusing on hucking doubles?
Yeah, I see that a lot. But if they want to do it like that, they can do it. I’m not the one that wants to stop them. I’ve always been hated until this last year, more hated than any other skier I believe. I still never changed anything of my style or clothing style or anything.
You think you were the most hated skier?
Probably, yeah. They think I have a bad attitude, clothing is not good, spinning too much, all about that spin to win.
Yeah but, your switch 14 looks like everyone’s switch 10.
Thanks for the compliment but, I don’t know about that. Naaaa.
What do you have to say to those kids that hate like that?
I don’t know, I’m super inspired by hip-hop. I’m just trying to do what a rapper does for hip-hop as what skiing does for me. I’m always going to rep my hood, I’m going to try and keep my style just the same. To be honest, I wish that skiing would be like music. It doesn’t have to be hip-hop though, but everyone doing their own style. If they’re not doing their own style, then they’re whack. You got to do your own shit. All the rappers always rep the place they come from and they always will. They’re not copying from other people. At the moment, I’m trying to think of stuff to do that no one has thought of that hasn’t been done before. There is always going to be another way to think of every trick.
Wallisch & Henrik at Dew Tour... photo: Kevin Kruse
I remember when I talked to you last year, you mentioned that one of your goals for the future was to push hand rail skiing just as hard as other aspects of skiing. Are other pros doing the same?
Yeah, I think actually it’s been a little bit better. I know that Simon was hitting rails this year. Tanner was trying to get out to hit hand rails this year, even though he’s always super busy all season, because he’s the man. But still, when you saw JOSS, it wasn’t always good weather so you had to include jibs. Even Jon Olsson, who hasn’t done jibs in a while really surprised me and came with some jibs I thought were really cool. Jon had some really good shots and Jacob had an ill nose butter five out of it.
Jacob says that in two years you’ll be winning every competition. What do you think about that?
I don’t know, I’m not trying to look at the future. I’m taking every day as it comes and making the best out of it.
Have you found any new foods or fast foods that you’re down with?
I’m down with anything that is fast food and candy. Like, Taco Bell is still the best, but this week my favorite candy has been a lot of Mike and Ikes and some Skittles too. Last week I ate a lot of Rice Krispy Treats.
Any new sponsors for this year?
At the moment right now I’m working out contracts with Scott, Salomon and Ninthward. We’ll see how everything turns out. I think it’s about to turn out super well. My contracts were up in May and my Dad is just dealing with all that stuff so I don’t have to care about it, I can just be out there skiing.
...and at JOSS. photo: Jeff Schmuck
Does your Dad work as your agent and help you out with sponsors?
I have an agent, but also my Dad does a lot of that stuff. Any emails I get from sponsors I just send it over to Dad and have him answer it so I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t even know what I get paid or anything like that, I’m just super happy to be out there every day.
The other day you showed me your new graphic for Ninthward. You stoked on how it turned out?
Third year that I’ve had a pro model with them. It’s the 10/11 graphic. I’ve seen pretty much every twin tip ski that’s been done the last seven years and this one is not copied from anything. It’s a couple colors I like and the ski shows my personality a lot. I like it.
Speaking of personality, your segment in 4bi9’s Slamina was baller as hell. Are you stoked with the finished product?
Yeah, that Fabulous track was good with it, it fitted my style and personality a lot. This year it’s going to be a different kind of segment I think. Mostly last year I thought the most powerful part of my shots was park footy, but this year I tried to be more creative on them hand rails so hopefully that will be the most powerful part of my segment.
JOI. photo: Dan Brown
Any tricks on hand rails you want to talk about?
I don’t know. Just like, I’ve been watching Lucas Magoon, the snowboarder from Tech9, his Faimilia segment and his Cold World segment a lot, like every morning before I go out skiing. I see what he does and see how I can do it with skis instead of a snowboard. I don’t know, I hope most of the kids will like what I did and how it turned out. But you never know, could be hated or could be loved. I’m just going to push it that way and multiply a lot of new stuff. I have so many thoughts for next season with handrails that I want to do. I’ve been already checking out spots and thinking how I could experiment with different spots and tricks, taking a lot of inspiration from all different extreme sports.
Do skiers and snowboarders approach urban features differently?
In snowboarding, it doesn’t always have to be the biggest or gnarliest shit, it’s all about transforming that feature from a bad spot into the illest shot you can make out it. Just how different and cool you can make it. That’s something I think ski movies are missing right now, hopefully we’ll get it for next season and a little bit for this season. I know Mike Hornbeck has been really, really good at that. Phil Casabon got one trick, I’m not going to say what it is, but it’s the most mind-blowing trick I have ever seen. It’s not crazy in spinning or anything like that, but when you see the shot, you’re going to see the snowboard thoughts for the whole spot and just the trick is a snowboard trick. It’s on a flat-down ledge and it will blow your mind when you see the shot. B-Dog, Level 1 Productions’ Refresh, coming out next season. Also, on the factors of hand rails, when you see the movies, you always think you can do this trick and that trick where the stairs could be cheese grater stairs, or metal stairs with a drop on the side, or with a sign at the end, or the kinks are way steeper or coming up way faster than you believe. It’s so much different to be at the spot than when you see in the movie.
Are there any other segments in skiing or snowboarding that you watch for inspiration?
Yeah, I like everything, especially when people push it their own way. I like watching the Clown School edits, like the most recently dropped, FUCK. Ahmet, Will Wesson, Hornbeck and Wallisch in Turbo. And I really, really like to see when Tanner Hall is out there. He pushes it so hard and he is so good. You can see he is having fun what ever he is doing. He’s a really, really happy person and a super good person.
Henrik, Wallisch & Tanner. photo: Jeff Schmuck
Did you realize that while making the NZ BOOM edits last summer?
Yeah! I had mad mad fun making them edits. But I heard also today that Tanner hit a big jump and broke both of his legs so I am feeling super, super sorry for that. But, it’s Tanner Hall, it will never end for him. He will be back and better than everyone else. Be hungrier to ski than anyone else. I love to see that. Just an example, he really wanted to come to JOSS this year, but he was shredding in AK doing the best thing he knows. He likes to shred park, he loves to shred rails, but the best thing he knows is feeling the freedom from everything in Alaska. That’s what I like about Tanner, he doesn’t care what anyone says, he just goes for his own thoughts and feelings. That’s why he’s Tanner Hall. You can’t disrespect it.
What’s next for you? You have a few more days left in Mammoth, and then are you headed home soon?
Flying home on Monday, going back to Åre, meeting up with all them friends, haven’t seen them now in a while. Hopefully we’re going to have a little motorcycle and some mopeds. So we’re going to set up a little box on the mountain or some other jib and just keep skiing. It will start to get a little warmer, but we will hit our ghetto-ass water jump and just do a couple backflips or something. No new, crazy stuff, just fun. Then I’m also going to set up my backyard summer rail. In a month and a half I go to Mount Hood, Oregon as a guest coach. Just shredding around Windells Camp and helping shape the features and set up boxes and rails.
That sounds sick. While in Hood last summer, you filmed one of the first Jiberish Chapters. Are you stoked on the response you received from those edits?
Yeah, just like the Keystone one, the level of skiing in that edit, I didn’t like my skiing at all to be honest, I don’t know why but whatever. But I thought everyone else, the skiing in that edit was pretty much the same kind of quality that we see in ski movies these days. Except that we don’t see parks in ski movies these days, which is good, because then you leave spots for edits to drop.
Some readers may or may not know this, but Mickael Deschenaux had a pretty large influence on your skiing. Is he still filming in Switzerland?
I haven’t really been shredding with him a lot lately, I’ve just been keeping in touch with him, talking to him. He’s still the illest skier that has ever skied in my eyes. Iberg was in Switzerland filming for the new Jiberish Chapter with him and Vanular. When I was in Switzerland he was injured so he couldn’t ski unfortunately. It was really fun just chilling with him for a couple of days. He’s not like that mean, crazy ass dude that some people think he is. He’s actually a really nice person that really takes care of things. He’s probably the reason why a lot of tricks started going right for me. Probably the main reason why I started grabbing blunt with my spins. He’s just like Tanner, he’s the man. I respect those guys so much.
photo: Daniel Schiebl
Earlier you mentioned that you look to a lot of action sports for inspiration. What other sports are you interested in?
I look to a lot of inline skating and skateboarding for inspiration. A lot from inline I take, how they wear baggy clothing, their steeze is super low, and it is like how my steeze is kind of on skis. For a while I thought I was copying way too much of Brogan and Wallisch with the whole afterbang thing. So I was just looking for my own style. I think I got it now, and it turned out to be just low and pretty much how inliners have it. Just land low and keep it like that, just floating like that for me. With skateboarding, I like taking a lot of the stalls. I know B-Dog came up with blunt and noseblunt and showed that to me. It’s a lot of things that you can take from other sports that have not been done in skiing yet.
What do you see as the future of competitions and support for athletes?
I was at a meeting at Jib Academy with Mike Douglas that was really, really good. He told me the truth about this sport, it’s like, no one is really that rich. You need to love skiing if you want to do this sport. If you don’t love skiing, it’s not worth it, because there just isn’t as much money as other sports. But I’m not really worried about it, just as long as I can travel around the world and ski as much as I want and hopefully when I’m older I won’t have to work which would be the best. I also think that all competitions will blow up more and more and hopefully get into the Olympics. At the end, there will be more money in skiing.
photo: John Vandervalk
Yeah, I heard nothing but good things about Douglas’ speech.
Yeah, he just said you need to love skiing and that’s what it’s all about.
That’s sick. What is your favorite part about skiing?
My favorite part of skiing is that, I love to call it the word FREEskiing. You can do it however you want. It’s like your own decision; you do whatever you want and ski wherever you want. There is no one that can really tell how or what to do. It’s freeskiing and I like it.
Speaking of skiers that ski however they want, do you ever watch the Traveling Circus edits?
Yeah, I think they’re cool. They’re pushing it just how they want it and I totally respect that. I want to get respect how I push my skiing and I think it’s cool that they have a different approach.
What else are you stoked on in skiing?
I think you just got to do whatever you want to do. I’m always going to be into the hip-hop style I think. I’m super inspired by what and how each rapper is creative in their own way. Skiers have a similar opportunity to have their own style and be just as creative as a rapper is. Also, at the same time, I respect Jacob Wester a lot. He’s not into the hip-hop style, and he shows it. I don’t know if he’s into punk or rock really, but it’s the same thing as that. He looks the way he does because that’s what he relates to. Same thing with hip-hop, it’s not about being hood, it’s about having a hood mentality, every rap artist will say that. It’s just what you’re feeling and what you think of style.
Martini, Wallisch, Walker, Casabon & Henrik. photo: Rom Marcucci
Do you know of any up and comers that are ready to blow up?
My boy Niklas Eriksson that won Superunknown. I’m excited to see how he’s going to push the skiing. I don’t know, there are a lot of kids out there. I think kids like B-Paul, Phil’s homey from Quebec is really, really good and is going to push it a lot. There are so many kids out there that are so good and could blow up at any second.
Do you notice that a lot about ski films? How much work goes into it?
Yeah, I’m noticing it a lot the more and more I film and help set up features. Just noticing how perfect a skier can be with a trick. It’s not like taking 30 minutes to get the shot. You can be there for 6 hours and change a little, little movement on the rail to get your trick.
You’re 17 right now, you travel the world every year, see the same friends skiing and meet new friends every day. Are there any bad parts about traveling?
The only bad part I can see about it is the airplane and the airport. I’m like always way too excited to get to the point where I’m going to go ski, where I’m going to meet my friends and all that. Everything else is the best. Traveling, seeing all the people, seeing so many different societies. Everything is so different from every country. I don’t know, I would never trade this for anything because this is the best I could possibly be doing. I’m more stoked than I could ever be.
photo: Jeff Schmuck
Anything else you want to say, any closing remarks?
Check it out 4bi9 Media’s So Far So Hood, Level 1 Productions’ Refresh, and the new Field Productions movie, Just check it out and see how much effort every filmer and skier is putting down to produce those movies. Realize how much more time they’re actually putting down while setting up a jump. All my sponsors, all the kids back home in Åre for helping me out every moment and every day I am out there skiing, and thanks to every rapper out there that is pushing my skiing with their music. Every snowboarder, and every pro athlete for action sports. I don’t know, be out there, be skiing a lot, and don’t hate.
This morning at 3:00, Swedish time, I had my alarm set for what I used to consider one of the most exciting events in snow sports, the X-Games ski Big Air.
From switch triple front flips, inhumanely large double backflip transfers to ridiculous urban trickery; this Swedish kid just looks at things way differently than anyone else.
Swedish skier Henrik Harlaut has modeled his life off RZA's teachings because that's what successful and cool people do.
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