We chatted to a very relaxed Magnus Graner, who is chilling in Austria having skied at the inaugural White Festival in Albertville, France. The 25-year-old Swede took the ski world by storm, winning Level 1’s SuperUnknown. He has since gone on to make waves in the ski industry. After winning X Games Real Ski the SkiManGuy has taken his skiing in a unique direction, earning himself a devoted following and more than a few haters to boot. But did you know he learned to ski with the help (or not) of a few dogs? He also talks about early days as a snowboarder, his first contact with pro skiers and enjoying challenging new hobby.
“We always had a couple of Huskies and I went cross-country skiing with them when I was like two.”
The fact that he started skiing at two years old probably explains why he doesn’t really remember his early years so clearly. He does, however, remember the dogs!
“They weren’t too hyped on me because I always fell, because I was super little. They didn’t really want to stop, so they would just keep going. They were over it when they were riding with me, so my mom had to hype them up: ‘Yo let’s go!’ They knew I was riding and they were like: ‘oh f*ck, not this guy again, he’s just gonna fall!’”
When he graduated to going downhill, he actually did it on a snowboard when he was five or six. “Freestyle was my thing on a snowboard, that’s all I was thinking about.” He later made the switch to two planks and has never looked back.
Some things never change.
“I never really thought about my own snowboarding inspiring The Bunch. Snowboarding in general has, but not really my early riding.”
The Bunch was a breath of fresh —Scandinavian— air to many people in the ski-world. I wondered if Magnus’s boarding as a youngster had helped to influence their unique style of butters and presses.
“I never really thought about it, but I guess everything you do affects your life so maybe it did. Snowboarding definitely did affect my skiing in one way or the other.”
So what has inspired him?
“Definitely my biggest inspirations have always been the homies I skied around. It’s more inspiring to see people ski in real life”
He says that The Bunch guys themselves have actually always been his biggest inspiration. Skiing together means that they have pushed each other. Ski movies were apparently not a huge influence on the young Swede:
“I was never too nerdy about skiing, I didn’t really know too much and I don’t really know much about skiing history. I saw a few ski movies, but I was never too much of a ski film nerd.”
Ski movies may not have had so much impact on him, but an encounter with a pair of pros made a lasting impression…
“One time I got to ski with Jacob Wester and TJ Schiller. I walked past a store and saw a sign that said: ‘Ski with Jacob and TJ!’ so got to ski a full day with them in Åre. That was definitely a huge moment for me. They were throwing cork 9’s, I’d never really seen tricks like that. I think experiencing such a cool trick, right in front of you, with some alien pro skiers that you’ve been hanging out with all day was a life-changing experience. I just thought ‘I want to be like those guys!’ I remember they were so cool as well, everything they did was so cool to me. They were making this noise by flicking their finger on the side of their cheeks and all sorts of noises with their mouths... pretty much anything they did was the coolest thing I had seen.”
Now he is a pro himself, inspiring so many skiers out there, but there are still skiers he looks up to.
“I skied with Henrik Harlaut and Phil Casabon this weekend. They’re great teachers, not only in skiing, but they’re also just nice people. Skiing is blessed to have role models like them.”
Magnus at the White Festival. Photo: David Malacrida/White Festival
“White Festival in Albertville was amazing! It was so fun. That would be awesome if those were the future, it was such a good atmosphere with the crowd just going crazy.”
They were all riding together at a new competition called the White Festival. The new event may well be a glimpse into the future, with the closed environment being more NBA than X Games.
“Everyone was sitting on these aluminum bleachers and when you landed a trick they were jumping and it created an insane sound. It was like a super wild FMX show! I got so gassed up from the energy of the arena. I now know how these FMX riders just decide to throw triples n such, it’s easy when you are feeding the energy of 3000 hyped frenchies.”
Now Skiing in Zermatt.
“‘Now Skiing’ has made my skiing way more fun and interesting.”
For those you who aren’t familiar with this concept, 'Now Skiing' is about skiing in the moment, and not feeling constrained by ‘the rules’. I’ll let Magnus explain:
“Normally, when you're just about to hit a jump or rail, as you get to the takeoff there won’t be any other thoughts to come in and disrupt you because you’re so tuned-in… that’s is 'Now Skiing'. Usually, as soon as you land, that moment goes away. You might think ‘maybe I missed a grab’ or whatever. I just want to get away from those thoughts and constantly be in the moment when I’m on my skis, no thoughts. I didn’t invent the concept, but I’m preaching it. It’s the concept of life, just being more present. When you're Now Skiing, if you fall off the rail, you just keep shredding. You don't think ‘oh f*ck, why did I do that?’ You can just think ‘oh whoops I’m off the rail but I’m on my noses! wow, I’m spinning around! Sh*t, I’m doing a 360! I just invented a new trick!! Wow- “Never stop swerving”
Magnus doesn’t want to claim the concept as his own, it’s an ancient concept. He tells me that he has read many books about ‘being present’ in ‘everyday life’ and he is meditating every day.
“I’m just trying to inspire people to get on the Now Skiing thing. I’m only touching the surface now but it’s so much deeper, there’s so much more to explore. Deeper into the moment I want to tap more into the source on skis. Pure Now.”
“I just want to follow the flow that I’m on, I don’t really have any concrete plans this season.”
Magnus’s main focus this winter is to focus on the Now Skiing concept and just to keep ‘evolving’ his skiing.
“Well I do want to ski more powder and just shred the whole mountain. In general though, I just wanna be more ‘in the moment’ and tapped in to the “crème de la crème” so I can shoot inspiration left and right and then have it bounce back and multiply and then bang em over the head and a little voff, voff on top of that, you know?"
“It’s been so easy to fall in love with climbing. Such an easy sport to pick up but there’s so much to learn!”
Away from skiing, Magnus has a new passion.
“Lately I’ve been climbing a lot in a climbing hall in Stockholm. That’s been awesome, with a big crew that I’ve met recently. That’s a big new hobby of mine. The learning curve is really smooth. Me and Gustav (one of the Bunch) were talking about how in skateboarding, for example, you can work for a year before you can even ollie properly. With climbing, you can climb a route on your first day. Then, the second day you can climb a harder one and the third one you climb a harder one and so on. A lot of my homies have recently started and we’re super about it. It’s easy to learn but difficult to master, so the whole process is just fun. I feel that you get better every day but there’s so much to learn that it’ll take so many years. There’s always more to process.”
Considering where he got to in skiing after his start with the Huskies, he may even end up redefining climbing too. You never know.
Trip: Not really a place. Skiing’s not about the place you go to.
Trick: Left turn then right turn. That is my favorite thing to do on skis.
Track: I was listening to a song just before this interview and it is awesome: “Oh Susie” by Secret Service.