Words and picture John Spelman He is on the cover of War doing that absolutely sick 37 foot high hip-air, he took bronze at the US Open Big Air and bronze at X-Games Big Air, and put in an impressive performance in the X-Games Half Pipe finals taking 5th place. This is the 19 year-old Norwegian Andreas Håtveit, yet most people outside of his native Norway know little about this emerging newschooler who along with Sweden’s Jacob Wester is spoken of as the two Scandinavians jibbers making a big splash on this side of the Atlantic this season. Meeting Andreas is not difficult for me. I have known him since he was 15 and I represent him but as a regular writer for Newschoolers I have preferred to profile other riders as that is more interesting for me and besides we have both preferred to keep my journalism and his ski life separate worlds. But following his X-Games podium and meeting many young guys in Colorado (for example a really friendly newschooler called Tosh Peters on the lift yesterday in Breck’) who admire Håtveit’s skiing but know nothing of the rider, I thought it was time to get his story out. So we sat down pretending we had never met, me as indifferent interviewer and him as obscure athlete. I begin with irony. John Spelman What is your favorite trick? Andreas Håtveit (laughing) John, you know very well I am not going to answer that question! JS Come on, we are prentending here and that was a typical “indifferent interviewer” question to begin with, give me a dumb answer… AH I am gonna walk away, any minute… JS OK then, we’ll skip those tough questions for now… Lets talk about US Open and X-Games. You must be super stoked to get a bronze at both the Open and X considering the injury you got on the eve of those events [Håtveit tore a rib muscle the day before the Open began]. AH Oh yeah you bet, I just can hardly believe it all happened. When I took that injury in Breck’ I was so down, I really thought I was out for the events, but when the doctor told me it was a torn muscle not cracked ribs or something, I began to think: “hey maybe I still have a shot at this” JS So you went for it. AH Of course. JS But early on in the Open you had a disaster with your skis AH Yeah, in the semi-finals slopestyle my bindings flew off so that knocked me out which really sucked because despite the injury I was managing to lay down some of the stuff I wanted to do. JS Of all the times for that sort of shit to happen. AH Yeah I know!! But you know what I am like, I am always smashing bindings and skis so I guess I have been lucky so far that this was the first time it happened in a competition. JS So a loss in slopestyle and you quit the pipe because of the pain, but then you went on to get 3rd in the big air contest. AH Yeah I didn’t expect that, everyone was saying “back out” because of the injury and that the landing would cause too much pain but it worked out. JS For the record what did you do? AH I did a Fakie 1080 reverse tail grab and to my surprise it came out alright and the judges thought it was fit for third place, so I was so very, very happy that evening - it was a great moment. But you know I have got to add that I was really impressed by TJ’s 14, that was crazy shit! JS And what do you think of being in the US Open AH Yeah I had a good time, I liked the jumps, the course was good, the rails weren’t that good but that was just a little thing, the judging was alright. I wish I had a week or two more in Breckenridge beforehand to practice a few more tricks but I enjoyed competing it was a lot of fun, more being with the other riders than the competing. JS Then you went to X and got another bronze in the big air contest. AH Yeah I know, every thing still seems amazing... It has always been my dream to be in X-Games and this was my first, so just competing would have been enough for me… and yeah it was a shame it wasn’t the real slopestyle contest, because I was feeling good I had improved on rails and felt good about it… but then again big air was no easy ride, the best guys were out there and because it was X everyone was psyched up, it was a tough fight. JS and you nearly got silver but Charles Gagnier, the last rider to run, swooped in and took your silver bouncing you into third, that must have been tough at the 11th hour. AH No not really, he did really well and I was just so stoked to be on the podium, so bronze or silver, it was a great competition and I loved being with the other riders, all of them, so I was happy to be there, so no that didn’t bother me at all really, not at all… I am still overwhelmed by it all. JS And then you went for the X half pipe showdown. For the record tell me what you did AH my normal run: fakie 7, flat spin 5, straight air 9, fakie 9 JS And you got 5th position, far more than we expected as both you and Dumont were in a lot of pain due to your respective injuries AH Yep I was very happy to get 5th position, I mean being at X is a dream so to be credited 5th out of 20 or whatever on the list, in the pipe is just so rewarding for me. But I have to say I am not sure all the judging was spot on at the half pipe at X. I saw a few other riders who I thought should have got more and didn’t, so I kind of felt for them, but of course it is difficult for them to complain out loud about judging because it was you…[thinking for words]. JS what you subscibe to when you enter? AH yeah, but let me also say that some other riders were privately saying this just after the finals ended so I only raise it because I don’t think I was the only one with that view and so I feel a bit more confident saying this now. JS Well maybe, judges always get a hard time, anyway we’ll leave that for the NS comment section. I just have to say that I so admired Dumont for his performance that night considering his condition. AH Yeah so true. JS Out of interest, where is the best pipe, (in your experience). AH Well I haven’t been everywhere in America but the best pipe I have skied is in Breckenridge. JS So, anyway US Open and X; a Scandinavian getting two bronze positions, are you modelling yourself on Jon Olsson? AH (laughing) Yeah that is a funny take. Besides Jon is far too good anyway for me to model myself on him. JS Can we talk about your past. I have seen you emerge over the past few years to top European level. And now you are traveling everywhere on the circus, which must be fun? AH Yeah, I love skiing and I think I will always love it, and now that I have the possibility to travel and ride with some of the best riders in the world it is like a dream come true. I can not complain about my life at all. JS Did you feel you had a natural talent in skiing? AH No absolutely not. I thought I would never be as good as the guys I saw on the screen. But I practicised so much and my level went up and I hate it so much when I can’t pull off something, some jump or trick I set myself, so I have to keep going again and again till I get there. JS Before skiing what were you planning, I mean during school? AH I finished school at 16 and did a two year course in construction. But it was while I was on that course that my skiing took off and so now I ski instead of building. JS Will you return to construction. AH Well, I have changed, probably because of the skiing, and certainly through traveling and I have seen many other different ways people make a living. I have a share in the ski film company with my brother and as I love filming that is probably part of what I’ll do in the future. JS What do you think of the ski movies, I know for example that you still like to watch Happy Dayz. How would you make a movie? AH Personally I think there should be a happy feel about the movies it is not about doing the biggest and best, but more about the mood of the film. JS On the subject of filming and ironically a film segment some would call “the biggest and the best”, lets talk about that 37 footer at June mountain we saw in War, can you tell me about that? AH Well last April (or May?) when I was filming with Poorboyz I was talking to Johnny [Descare] that it would be super cool if I could do a left landing corner and I’d knew I’d do it by a flat spin because I had just been doing flat spin 7’s. Johnny said we could go to June and try and build something. TJ, John Symns and Jacob Wester were with us and, I think, yes Anthony Boronowski and Kurt… We took the whole day digging under Kurt’s guidance. He is a brilliant shaper and he measured every meter as we built up to make sure it was perfect. JS the first day there was just digging? AH yeah it was a lot of work but at the end of the day we knew we were going to go big so the next day we all arrived really psyched to do something special. I began by going low at first because i did not want to charge it and kill myself. So my first five hits were un-remarkable but then I started going higher eventually hitting a high of 37 feet. JS It’s an amazing clip in War, it’s like you are floating in air. Did you try to go beyond 37 feet or was that your penultimate jump of the day? AH Oh yeah, after the 37 footer I tried to go higher but I messed up the landing and hurt my back, nothing serious, though I have had to visit the chiropractor all fall because of it. But I am not complaining, it was worth it. JS Jacob went higher didn’t he, I think it was 44 feet? AH Yep, he went highest in a vertical straight jump, and I did the highest trick. JS Were you trying to go higher than Jacob? Was that pushing you? AH No, not really. We were just there to have fun. I was in my own world, I was chilled, just having a super good time, pushing my flat spins. Sort of [the] challenge was for me to see what I could do. JS You and Jacob Wester. I know you both and it’s interesting you are both the same age (give a year) and probably at the same skill level at least in big air, you are both from Scandinavia and so speak the same language (sort of), and you are both emerging at about the same rate and at the same time. Is there a sense of competitive rivalry between you both. AH I have never thought of it that way, but yeah I guess we are both conscious of our emergence out from Scandinavia but I think of it more as us both riding out together and it’s fun to keep running into each other at comps, its more like a good thing, there is not any silly aggression thing between us if that’s what you were asking? JS But fate keeps pitching you head to head with him, like in Switzerland last year at the Big Air Masters you came first, he came second, at June mountain he went higher but you did the highest trick, at Air We Go recently he came first and you second in a thrilling finale when you were both neck and neck. As you emerge, you are emerging in competition with each other. AH When we meet there is competition between us, we are both out to come first but I think we are both driven by our own deeper reasons. The approach is one of fun, so it is like seeing who has gone furthest since we last met. I kicked his ass at Wengen (Switz.) but then he kicked my ass at Air We Go.(laughs). Yeah it’s fun to clash with him. JS That finale was so exciting at Air We Go, and you crashed, so he won. AH Oh yeah, but I want to say Jacob totally deserved to win that day hands down, he is an excellent skier. JS I agree he deserved to win, his style was so smooth. He is from Sweden, you are next door in Norway. How is the newschool scene in those countries? AH It is really good, there really is an emerging generation of twin tip jibbers growing up everywhere, it’s just dominating the youth with skiing but the whole thing, society, TV the sports bodies are so rooted in old school it will take years for the set up to change so the facilities for riders are still limited. JS Yeah I also see that, the newschooler scene in Scandinavia is very energizing. The facilities are certainly not keeping up with the trend are they? AH No, which is frustrating for everyone on the scene. It’s like the 14 and 15 year olds just can’t emerge out properly. The resorts are doing their best but Norway is a small country so the resorts can’t invest like they do in America and all the government sport fund money in Norway goes to old school, the parks get nothing. And that is the big, big annoying problem with Norway, no actually with Europe as a whole, there is no decent park comparable to what you get in [North] America. For instance it is impossible to reach international level in half pipe in Europe, you have to go to America and practice on the half pipes there first. JS So do you still ski in Norway at all during the season? AH The best part of my whole year is skiing at Folgefonna [summer ski centre in west Norway] just because I love summer skiing and my friends are there, the rails are good and the whole athmosphere is so cool especially the after-ski when after skiing on the glacier you can swim in the fjords and have beach parties and things like that which is so easy to do because it stays light to midnight in summer in that part of norway. JS A lot of people think that the scene is dividing into disciplines, like one rider becomes super expert in pipe while another becomes a top skill in big air. Do you agree it is moving that way and are you focusing on a particular discipline strength? AH There are signs it could go that way but I prefer not to be compartmentalized like that, I much prefer to be an all rounder, pipe, rails and big air. It is much more fun and better because when you arrive at a park you never know what you’ll find. So for example if the rails are shit you can work on your big air or whatever. JS How do you see your life, I mean as a person, because that must govern to some extent how you approach the sport. AH What do you mean? Like do you mean am I a driven person? or something like that? JS No, not “performance” stuff, I am asking about something more insidious. Like for example some people want wealth, others a quiet life so those things affect how much you deal with say the media or the young fans who look up to you and it filters through into everything you do inclucing your sport. What guides you? AH (long pause). I think, maybe… well this might be laughed at for being naïve, but I think that to be just kind and open to other people is a very important thing to me because by doing that you recognize that other people have value whoever they are, and that makes your life more valuable because you are giving something not just taking. That can give your life sense, a meaning, that you do something positive. Another important thing for me is to have fun, not to live a life of complaining or being gloomy. JS To live a worthwhile life. AH Yeah, I think so. But I think you already know all that stuff because that’s what you say. JS Tell me what you mean by it. AH Well its like you said recently, if my contribution to life was positive through my approach to people and through my sport then at age 70 or whatever I can look back and say: well, I wasn’t perfect and I didn’t do everything right, but I lived a life worth living - it was worthwhile me being here. In the end, that’s enough for me - if I can say that about my life I would be happy. JS Turning back to your season, you are filming again with Poorboyz this season, correct? AH Yeah, in fact I spent a week in Finland with them doing rails with Peter Olenick and Sammy which was a lot of fun. I really like the guys at Poorboyz and Johnny is a super nice person. Mattias Fredriksen was there and took some sick shots. JS Now [today] we are speaking in Breckenridge, are you having fun being back in the States? AH Yeah, very much, I love being here, everyone is very open and fun. America and Canada are just fun places to be, everyone is up for doing things. So yeah, I like being out here, just sucks that with the injury I now (tomorrow) have to go back to Norway to rest a few weeks. JS (smiling) How do you see the sport progressing? AH (laughing) Yeah, I just knew you were going to slip that clichéd question in, you know I am not going to answer it. You know riders hate that [one]. JS (laughing) OK, well I’m sick of speaking to you, so let’s finish up. AH Yeah, and can you move out of the way [of the TV]. More news, pics, and video clips of Andreas at:  http://www.skifilm.net ;


Interviews/Profiles