Photo credit: Emil Larsson
“We’re in Quebec, filming for Pär Peyben Hagglund’s X Games Real Street and I'm filming a street part myself, which will be part of a separate project that doesn’t really have a name yet.”
“We’re one week away from having been out here for two months. Me, Pär Hägglund and the filmer Emil Larsson flew into Boston, because that’s where I’m from, and we drove north for ten hours, to two hours north of Quebec City, to Saguenay. The rough plan is that my shots will go towards another Bunch video.”
“I can’t really give a release date for Color, but definitely in the next month or so. We’re excited to get it out.”
Anticipation is building for The Bunch’s next film, but they’ve been out, working hard and hitting street, so it just needs a final touch and it’ll go on the internet.
But how did someone from Boston get involved with a bunch of Swedish skiers?
“I met all the Bunch guys when I was camping in Mount Hood. I went out with a bunch of East Coast friends. They picked me up from the airport and told me it’s going to snow like a foot and then rain for a week, so we met these guys, they’re pretty cool and we can stay on their floor.”
‘These guys’ were the Bunch, so it was ten Swedish people, Alex and his friends.
“I really admired their energy and their attitudes. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before, I’d just come off a season of being on the competition circuit and I show up to this house with all these swervy, innovative free-minds of the Bunch and I really was kind of blown away and I knew that was the energy I wanted. We kept in touch and I developed better relationships with everybody.
“Last year I was on a call with Magnus and he put me in contact with Pär, because I didn’t really know Pär as much. He wanted to film a new Bunch video and was looking for people who’d be down to work on a project with him. I was calling Magnus looking for a project and I’ve always been a big fan of the Bunch, so we connected and that’s how Colour came to be.”
That may have been his first contact with The Bunch, but they had already had a significant impact on Hack’s skiing…Getting back to his roots. Credit: Christian Raguse
“I was on this street trip to Quebec, my first street trip ever, I was with Kieran Mcveigh and Connor Gaeta, Kieran goes: ‘You guys gotta watch this. I’ve got the private link to watch Magnus Graner’s new part.”
Alex hadn’t heard of him, but watched a rough cut of Magnus’s shots in Less combined with ones from Finesse, you can still feel the excitement as Alex tells the story:
“I’d never heard of him, but Kieran said we should watch it. I put it on and it was a rough cut and edited to that Freddie Gibbs song. That was so monumental to how I ski now, because every skier I looked up to was skiing in the traditional sense. To me, that segment blended technicality with a type of power-skiing. He used his whole ski, flexing everything. That blend was just a ‘Wow moment’.
“We were on a street trip. Before that video I was looking at street-skiing in one way and we just watched that private link video and the next day I wanted to hit everything in a different way. It was this night and day thing.”
“I fell in love with street-skiing because I felt it was really artistic. Just the skiing, the music and everything. It’s just this beautiful craft and if you can understand this craft then these ski videos can be super influential to you.”
Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, urban might seem a natural environment to ski, but Alex hasn’t always been drawn to the streets:
“I was on skis when I was like two. My parents met on a ski vacation. I grew up in the suburbs and they decided that skiing would be their way to get out the city and they needed to teach their kids how to ski and enjoy skiing, so the family could do it every weekend. I grew up stuck in the city, going to school in the week and every weekend going skiing in Sunday River, Maine. My parents love to ski, I learned early because they knew they needed to get their kids to learn to ski. I was this bastard who would go to the mountains every weekend but was not from the mountains.
“When I came back to the suburbs and city-life, I definitely wasn’t identifying with that either. That 100% influences my urban skiing and it definitely influences my passion. I didn’t grow up in the mountains, even though that’s what I wanted as a kid. I saw everyone else and I was like: ‘They live right here. Wouldn’t that be awesome!’ Then I realised that I love the city, I love that you could always go out at any time and there’s so many young and creative people. I like to do art and a lot of things because I didn’t grow up in the mountains. Not that you can’t like art in the mountains, but that juxtaposition definitely shaped my passions for sure. I also liked Boston more as I grew up and was able to enjoy the city more.”
“I was such a huge Henrik fan that I began to slur my speech, to talk slower in –what I didn’t even know at the time was—a Swedish accent.”
Henrik Harlaut’s segment in Level 1’s Refresh, was hugely influential to Alex. He talks about going on a ski vacation with his dad and just being sat on his bed watching that one segment on repeat. He wanted to do more than just ski like Harlaut:
“I needed to dress exactly like him and, in fact, I was such a huge Henrik fan that I began to slur my speech, to talk slower in –what I didn’t even know at the time was—a Swedish accent, He was still learning English, I spoke really slowly and spoke poor English, for a while, because I was so influenced by Henrik.
“As I matured, I obviously still loved Henrik, but the Stept movies started coming in and Road To Nowhere and Network were pretty big movies for me then we all know what happened next, they came out with Weight, The 86 and Mutiny.
“That was the Bible for me in terms of ski movies. It was a real sense of pride because those guys were from the East Coast and they were really something to look up to. It was amazing, because Shea Flynn grew up skiing the same mountain I did, in Maine. The Martini brothers grew up a town away from me in the suburbs of Boston.”
“There were a couple of things that contributed to me stopping competing. That trip, when I met the Bunch, definitely played a really big role, it stoked the fire, but it didn’t start it.”
After starting his ski career as a promising competition skier, he says the decision to stop competing wasn’t an overnight one:
“I didn’t just decide one day that I don’t want to compete anymore. I grew up skiing on the East Coast, I just idolized ski films and street skiing. I grew up in a city with no big mountains, I would skip every big mountain/pow segment in ski movies and just watch the street segments. I’d see the look in the eye of Cam Riley after he’s done the gnarliest thing I’ve ever seen or the attention to detail that Clayton had when he made those parts.”
“I grew up in the ‘Stept era’ and all that was filmed pretty near to my house. I just got this insane craving to make that part for myself. That was always on my mind, I always looked at competition skiing as something I enjoyed, it was cool and progressing my skills, but it was always there to get to the point where I could focus on the film-craft aspect of skiing. I met the Bunch and that definitely changed my attitude towards film skiing and kind of sped things up.”
He had a career-high ranking of 24th overall in the Slopestyle circuit. That season he also made the US ski team.
“It was a really promising season for me, from a competition-perspective. I went skiing that spring at Hood and I had partially torn my ACL, but got misdiagnosed, so I skied a month on a partially torn ACL. I took a really stupid crash –one that wouldn’t have hurt if my knee was healthy—knuckling a jump and it took my knee. Long story short- I blew my knee. When you blow your knee it kind of puts everything in perspective, because you’re just taken away from everything.
“At that point I loved skiing so much, I was 17 so that was all I’d experienced in life and it was really painful to have it taken away. That’s when I realised how much I loved film-skiing, that was what I really wanted to do and I wasn’t going to have forever to do it. Skiing can be taken away from you in a minute and I would rather spend my time on skis doing exactly what I want to do - and that’s film.
“I made that realisation, but I kept skiing, because I had made the US Ski Team and had all my eggs in the competition basket. I had worked really hard to learn all these jump tricks, it would have been a shame to just up and leave. I continued and then I just realised my passion was in street-skiing and that coincided with me starting to film with the HG guys. When I filmed Eat The Guts it was two seasons and I was on the competition circuit the whole time. It was just something different that I was doing on the side. I really wanted to focus on filming but it was too scary to completely quit competing.
“What really got me to stop competing was that I didn’t have enough FIS points to even get a qualifying start at a World Cup event. I would have had to do a lower-level competition and the only one, before the season, was in Switzerland. If I wanted to continue on the comp-circuit, I had to fly all the way to Switzerland, do a competition, get a certain amount of points and then I could get back on the top circuit. When that happened I was like: ‘f*ck it.’ Then I called Magnus and told him I wanted to stop competing and asked what’s going on? I linked with Pår and filmed Color and that was my first year of stepping fully away from competition.”Credit: Emil Larsson
“I want to express my appreciation to HG and being part of Eat The Guts is one of the best experiences of my life.”
Eat The Guts was two years in the making. They’d just had this pretty bad winter on the East Coast and decided to not just put out something for the sake of it. They decided to hang on to their clips and make it a two-year project.
“We didn’t want anybody in this movie to not have a full part. We didn’t want anything in this movie that everyone wasn’t stoked on. Obviously, you want the instant gratification, but they were really smart because they really saw the vision for what Eat The Guts could be.
“I just look back on it as so much fun, those guys on that movie were so amazing, because we were all friends. We were nothing more than a bunch of East Coast kids that came together. It was just kids from within a three-hour radius. Everything was natural about that film. That’s what really strikes me about it, when you watch it, it’s a very natural film because that’s what it was to do. Those guys are so much fun to hang out.”
“I’m super grateful for being a part of that and being a part of that legacy. Before I started riding for HG skis, I had no path to become the skier that I wanted to become. Those guys: Connor, Harrison, Cole and the crew, they took a young kid and were basically my older brothers.
“They helped me so much and they believed in me enough to let me film with them and give me this career in freeskiing. They didn’t give it to me on a platter, but they gave me that foot in the door and I’ll always be extremely grateful to have been a part of that legacy. They trusted and believed in me and they gave me a shot.”
“Obviously it’s sad that HG went out of business, but it’s a new opportunity with ON3P. A door closes and new door opens.
He says loves that he’s in another situation that: “feels like being part of another family. With ON3P, the team vibe is really on point. It’s really good skiing with your friends, there’s nothing forced, I’ve taken a tour of their factories before. They’re made in America, which is cool, you know where they’re being made, you know who’s making them and, after HG went out of business, it felt really natural.
" I’m blessed to have been a part of HG and now be a part of ON3P. Moving forward with that project and brand, I feel ON3P is really special and they’ve put together a really badass team, it’s paving the way for the future of ski-teams.
“I think they’ve done a really good job of looking beyond competition results and what other companies see in a skier, that what’s made their team so special. They have the Mista Mangos, they have the Magnuses, they have the Kryptoskiers of the world. Where most traditional ski companies miss, they’re in the know and they hit.
“They have a really innovative mindset and it feels more like a silicon-valley start-up or something, they’re always down for the new thing. So much of the ski industry fits a traditional mould where things have been around forever and it works because that’s just how it works. ON3P are coming at it from a new angle and they’re really down to innovate. As a rider, that’s an amazing thing.”Looking to the future... Credit: Christian Raguse
“My passions in skiing go far beyond street-skiing, that’s what I like to do now, but I just love skiing.”
“I’d love to put out some timeless street segments and innovate the sport from a film-skiing perspective. My overall ambition, right now, is street-skiing, but I have this great background in jumping and I can see myself getting involved in all aspects of skiing. My plan, in the near future, is street-skiing, but that’s not the only plan I have.
“I want to continue to develop and improve my skiing, so the plan is to keep enjoying and improving. I didn’t grow up anywhere near big mountains and I’ve never put out a powder part in my life, but maybe one day I’ll take an avalanche course and go ski Chamonix.”
For now, Chamonix will have to wait, Alex is fully committed to creating video parts that will stand the test of time.
Trip: I’m going to steal a slogan and twist the question. Tall T Dan says that anywhere with the right people is my trip. If there’s the right people, it doesn’t matter where I am, I’m having a great time.
Trick: A double cork 7 off a big jump is probably the best feeling that I get on skis.
Track: Blinded By Your Grace Pt. 2, Stormzy, that’s what I’ve been listening to most recently.