Henrik Harlaut & Tanner Hall exclusive double-interview


Huge cheers and clapping from all the skiers in the landing area at freestyle.ch and freak-out-level enthusiasm of the MC suddenly catch everyone’s attention – Henrik Harlaut has stuck a new, never before seen trick – which is at the current high level of skiing more than rare. No surprise that Henrik later wins the finals and with it the 8th Big Air contest in his career. Henrik is known for throwing seemingly impossible rotations and for his signature huge outfits. We managed to interview him in the riders’ tent right after his world premiere nose butter double cork 1260.

Half way into the interview Tanner Hall joined in. Tanner is without a doubt one of the most influential new school skier out there – every single skier we talked to quotes him as their style inspiration. After winning no less than seven Gold Medals at the X-Games, Tanner broke both legs and blew his ACL’s. He was in for four hard years of getting back to walk and ski, of training up and slowly easing back into riding the pipe – with the ultimate goal to qualify for the Olympics 2014. So far his hard work seems to pay off – Tanner just won the Superpipe finals at the The North Face Freeski Open in New Zealand.

Here’s our exclusive, fresh-out-of-the-oven double-interview with the freeski stars:

O: So what was the trick you pulled there – because that was a new one, wasn’t it?
HENRIK: That very last one was a nose butter double cork 1260.

O: So that was a first?
HENRIK: The first time I did it and the first time anybody ever did it.

O: That’s what I thought. All the other guys were really stoked!
HENRIK: It feels super good. I had done the nose butter double cork 10 a couple of times and always wanted to do the 12, but I hadn’t really felt it before. I figured I’d try it on the last run because I was already in (the final), so it didn’t matter if I’d fall.

O: You should have seen the faces of the other skiers, they were really happy for you.
HENRIK: Thank you!

O: So why are you sitting on the exercise bike here now?
HENRIK: I used to have not too good knees. They are better now, but spinning on the bike for like 30 minutes is always nice. It’s no pressure, and it pumps out everything that’s not good, it just feels good.

O: What else are you doing to protect your knees from all these super hard impacts?
HENRIK: I work out. In the summer time you try to build up as much muscle as possible, so I do a lot of different activities. I go to the gym, skateboarding, soccer, trampoline a lot, do a whole bunch of biking. At the same time I also try resting up during summer.

O: So when you say trampoline, is that how you learn new tricks initially?
HENRIK: Yeah, I used to learn everything on tramps when I was younger, but now it’s hard to do the tricks we do on jumps on a trampoline, because you don’t have the same airtime. But all the basics, for example my right side spins – which is my unnatural way of spinning – I learn a lot on the trampoline, still. But it’s also just for fun, to keep doing tricks and stuff.

O: So how do you do new tricks? Straight away on the ramp or rather on snow?
HENRIK: I usually learn everything on snow. But I basically think about new tricks for a couple of months, visualizing them. Everybody does it differently, but that’s my approach. I just keep thinking about them. I guess I think a bit differently than other skiers.

O: In which way differently?
HENRIK: I never waste time to think about anything but skiing. It’s where all my dedication and time and work go into, so I like to do it 100% while I’m in it. When I get older it’ll be maybe not as much, but I hope to be skiing and having fun all my life hopefully.

O: That’s cool. So you say you’re skateboarding – does that influence your style a little bit?
HENRIK: Yea, definitely. Just watching the illest skateboarders always, having the illest style forever, and the grabs and all – you can get inspired! They are so ahead of us because they’ve been doing it for a lot longer. And the style – yea, it’s just inspiring. I try to see that and then try to do it on skis. Skateboarding myself helps too, because I get a little bit of a feel for it. I’m not very good or anything like that, but I’m always having fun with it.

O: Is there anyone you really look up to?
HENRIK: For sure. Tom Penny, Nick Tucker, Torey Pudwill are my favourite skateboarders.

O: And in skiing?
HENRIK: A whole bunch. Phil Casabon, Tanner Hall, Candide Thovex, David Crichton, Mickael Deschenaux. Everybody basically. I like watching everybody skiing and enjoy.

O: Outside of skiing, in real life? Like in your family? Or someone in music?
HENRIK: A lot of rappers are very inspiring. The whole Wu-Tang Clan for example, the way they reach out to the kids and do it all for the fans, that’s nice. And they’ve always stayed true to what they started as. As far as hip-hop they’re sounding very similar to what they used to do 20 years ago. So that’s cool. And Nas, he’s another rapper that has a different take on it. He’s a solo artist, has never been in a band, and his sound stays the same. The way he busts his lyrics, he’s the best poetry rapper I know basically. His lyrics really speak to me.

O: What would be your message to the kids out there? They all admire you – so what would you tell them?
HENRIK: Just have fun. That’s the biggest message. That’s what I always try to do and then everything else falls into place. Don’t get caught up with anything, enjoy whatever you do. If it’s skiing like I do, don’t get caught up with comp results or being in contests – just have fun skiing and the whole thing will come together at one point.

O: So that’s also your main theme in life?
HENRIK: Yea. Definitely my main thing – with my little personal twist to it.

>>Strange voice interrupting: HEY NERDSHOW ARE YOU?<<

O: Speaking of the devil – here’s Tanner. So since you are so hard to catch for an interview, how about if I’m doing a double interview right now?
TANNER: Go ahead!

O: So how is it to be fully back on the slopes and in the comps after your injury?
TANNER: I just won the half pipe at The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand.

O: So why you’re not participating here at the freestyle.ch? You needed a qualification?
TANNER: No, no, no. I’m the team manager for Henrik and Phil. See them inspired, making sure the boys got what they need, show them support, it’s a family thing, this is how we move. We’re actually in the middle of a big European movie tour. We just wanted to stop here at the freestyle.ch and do some damage, and then we keep the movie tour going tomorrow.

O: Tell me about the movie.
TANNER: The new Inspired Media movie we filmed is called “The education of style”. We’re on a big tour right now that started off in Stockholm, then Oslo, now we’re in Zurich, tomorrow we go to Scotland, then Helsinki…
HENRIK: …then Barcelona, IF3 Annecy, Milano…
TANNER: …Hintertux, IF3 Innsbruck… We were in New Zealand for a month, and our film tour started off in Montreal at the IF3, we’ve only been home for two days. We’ve been on a crazy mission for the last month and a half…

O: So what’s the story line?
TANNER: Trying to get different ideas. Bringing back style into a game that – we feel – is being controlled by Evel Knievel robots in a way.

O: The Evel Knievel robot being called FIS? Or too acrobatic “spin to win” tricks instead of style?
TANNER: No, not that so much. To me in skiing it’s the easiest to be original because everybody I feel is doing the same stuff. Everybody’s movies are the same. Everything is the same. So we wanted to fresh it up a little bit, bring a new twist to style in skiing.
HENRIK: We’ve put a lot of thought into this, you can see it in the way we showcase our skiing with our style. It’s more about going out and having fun instead doing the illest stuff…
TANNER: Exactly, instead of doing the gnarliest shit every day. Just want to be out and be unique, think about it differently, open more minds.

O: That’s neat. And you’re the right person for it – all these guys list you as their role model, for skiing, for your style, as an influence for their riding.
TANNER: That’s pretty sick.

O: Yea, you can feel pretty good about it.
TANNER: That’s a wicked thing. But that’s the life, right there, the life we live, the life we love. I’m stoked people are stoked.

O: So what have you learned from skiing?

O: Like travelling, meeting people?
TANNER: Yea, exactly. And just life. I quit school in 9th grade to pursue a ski career. I might not have a degree in college, but I have a degree in life, that’s for sure.

O: I asked the same question to Henrik: If you see all the kids that look up to you guys, what advice would you give them?
TANNER: Just go out and have fun. Be yourself. Don’t try to be anybody you are not. Don’t rely on fakeness. Be yourself and have fun, stay true to yourself, because in the end of the day that’s what life is all about. That’s how it moves, that’s how it grows, that’s how it keeps growing. That’s how individuals grow up into themselves, into their own, instead of trying to be someone they are not – and then they are 30 years old and wondering who they are.

O: Wow. We can make a full story out of that statement.
TANNER: I’m off now…

O: OK, thanks!
HENRIK: Was that good?

O: Yea, just give me your favourite O product?
HENRIK: My favourite product is the Oakley O Frame Ski Goggles. They are the most out to me ski goggles; they are the old school ones. They came out in the early 90s, Mickael Deschenaux and Tanner always used them to ski with when I was young. And I got the opportunity now from Oakley to ski with them. They are not they make them now for me. It’s so nice to have the support of Oakley, and to be able to ski with O Frames!

O: Thanks for the ITW! We can’t wait to see your new movie!
HENRIK: Thank you!


Marion Schmitz


October 16, 2012