Juho Kilkki has long been one of skiing's outliers. Finnish skiers (and snowboarders) tend to be different, but even in the rarified world that is the scene up there, he stands out from the crowd. You doubtless know of him as one of those weird skiers from Real Skifi, even if you never knew his name. I first met Juho a few years later, at the legendary Backyard Park in Savitaipale. Like most, I knew him from Real Skifi which is a totally different animal, but seeing him doing 'normal' tricks on the dreamlike rail setup they have there blew my mind. He can do just about anything, first try. Something I was reminded of when we met again during the Real Skifi UK Tour and played a short, brutal game of skate.
But while his technical talent is undeniable, it's his mind that is truly unique. It's a cliché to say that creative skiers are 'artists', who see things differently. In Juho's case, that doesn't go far enough. He's playing with a whole different deck of cards, as much mad scientist as an artist. It's a combination perfectly highlighted by his latest edit, Social Distancing.
I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of you reading this article have, at some point, balanced a camera on a bush, propped it up against a hoodie, or found some other simple way to film yourself. With much of the world in some kind of lockdown, Juho took that concept and ran with it, creating a piece that is both the ski edit and the making-of, all rolled into one. We hadn't spoken in a while, so I reached out to see how he was doing and find out more about the making of Social Distancing which, if you somehow missed, you should watch right now:
I'll start with the obvious question of the moment, how are things looking over in Finland right now?
We’ve managed to keep the curve quite flat in Finland actually. So even though everyday life is a bit odd with all the restrictions the situation is somewhat in control over here.
Is it the lock-down that inspired Social Distancing in the first place?
The new video was definitely inspired by the lock-down but it wasn’t 100% a new idea. Doing some crazy solo camera work had been on my mind for a while but this situation seemed like a perfect fit for the idea.
How did you figure out the timings for the shots? You studied Mathematics but did you actually sit down and work out all the weights of the liquids and the timings in advance, or was it more trial and improvement?
Haha, it’s true that I spent two years studying maths at University but I only wish I could tell you stories about how I calculated all the timings. It was just trial and error... but mostly error you know. It was pretty frustrating to land a trick and then go see the clip and realize that the timing was off.
Which was the hardest shot of the lot to get?
The hardest tricks in terms of skiing were actually the Natas spins on the rock. They were somehow super hard to get to look how I wanted. I had to lower the bar a bit with them eventually. The ghost jump between the rails was really hard mentally though.
Filming wise the spinning crane needed super precise timing and a lot of preparations. All the pans were hard too. They weren’t as consistent as you’d hope. For example, just the opening shot of me walking to the zone took like 2 hours to get.
You're a dad now, and you've had a few injuries along the way. How much are you still getting to ski?
This year I got to ski a lot actually! Which was great, since the two seasons before that were overshadowed by knee issues. I graduated from University last summer and since then I’ve been a 50% stay-at-home dad and 50% pro skier. I quit coaching at the local freestyle club and haven’t done any other jobs cause I wanted to focus all my time and energy (you know the 50% I still have) on my own skiing and videomaking. So basically my ski ”career” is still going strong if you were wondering about that. And maybe even about to get stronger than ever.