As 2014 began, the ski world lit up when an edit dropped that quickly gained traction with skiers all over the world. The Euro-based crew from Likebomb released its first episode of the year—“Sh*t-F*ck Skiing”—and the edit left viewers reeling in its wake.
While most were nursing New Year’s Eve hangovers, a thread sprouted up on the TGR forum on January 1 at 8:13 AM about Likebomb’s edit. “[I’m] claiming this as the best edit of 2013,” writes JefferyJim. “The only worthwhile POV footage I've ever seen,” adds Bottleman. Gcooker upped the ante with, “I'm surprised he can even walk with the weight of his massive brass balls.” And, from neufox47: “That is the most impressive freeskiing I think I've ever seen.”
After watching the four-minute blast-athon—which showcased Engelberg, Switzerland’s early season low-tide, rock-littered terrain—stateside skiers were collectively wondering, “Who is this dude absolutely ripping ‘shit-fuck’ conditions?”
Well, the man who spun his DIN to 21 and proceeded to lace through the sharky, puckering lines is Swedish-born skier Johan Jonsson. He skis for Tecnica/Blizzard and The North Face, among other sponsors. And, odds are he’s one of the cooler people you’ll meet via skiing. Creative, humble, and committed, Johan Jonsson might be a new name to a lot of people, but most of us have already seen “his massive brass balls.” We caught up with the Swede to formally introduce him to all of you.
Give us a little backstory about yourself.
I grew up skiing in Sweden in a town that’s probably a lot like the East Coast in the US, but even smaller. Our mountain was only about 200–300 vertical meters, so you could only have a FIS GS race and not much more. I never skied park that much, just went straight from ski racing to freeride. After a three-month trip traveling around the States and skiing, I came back to Sweden and was doing demolition work and asbestos cleaning for almost five years to finance spending winters in Engelberg.
Did you guys set out to film “shit-fuck conditions?”
The goal was to film cold, preseason blower pow in the Alps, but it looked bad when Erik Henriksson, the filmer, and I arrived in Engleberg. After a couple of days we talked about rebooking the trip and coming back when it was better. But, we decided that since skiing is always fun we should ski like we do everyday and shoot it. Of course we all love skiing pow, but I like to ski in all conditions. Normally, you don’t have a filmer when the skiing is like that. We just tried to make the best of what we had.
Has there been pow out there or is it as bad as it looks in the edit?
I was in Engleberg early in the season (around November) when Jacob Wester was filming his series “Unfiltered” and it was really good, but then I went home to finish an online ski magazine I’m doing called Alpin Kultur. When we came back it was bad!
The magazine is sweet. What’s that all about?
We just released the third issue of Alpin Kultur, you should check it out. We’re a small group, and at first we were like “We don’t know anything abut magazines, we can’t do this…” But then Daniel Rönnbäck, a Swedish photographer, says, “It’s just a magazine, how tough can it be?” And, we tried and got some really good feedback about it.
What compelled you guys to jump into online publishing? Were mags not doing it right over there?
I don’t think it’s about right or wrong, we’re just doing it differently. We were not in the target group for the existing ski magazines in Sweden, and realized there was a space for us, and we’re trying to fill that space. Our motto is to be a good force in the ski industry in Sweden. We’re writing about women in the right way, we’re not running stories because certain companies ran ads, and we’re trying to do it different.
Have you been surprised by the response to the first Likebomb edit?
It's pretty unbelievable how bananas things went online. I didn't see it coming at all. It was really unexpected, this publicity. I remember the first text I received from the filmer. He wrote, “Cool… 1200 views and counting.” We were psyched to see people sharing it. It’s not like we thought we were sitting on this super cool edit. We didn’t have any idea how people would respond when we released it. But, we’re so stoked that they like it. I was reading the TGR forum and blushing…
The social media buzz about your edit has been crazy. Have you been engaging with people?
It’s so funny to watch the social media updates when conditions aren’t good in mountain towns, because it goes from desperation to claiming in one day. I have responded a couple of times by asking if I’m destined to ski ice for the rest of my life.
What’s the plan moving forward with Likebomb this season? Are we going to see more edits?
This blew up pretty big, and it makes me nervous to think about how to proceed. The plan from the beginning has always been to make five or six edits this year. We have some trips to different destinations booked. As I wrote on the EpicTV page for this episode, we are going to try to do different stuff. I hope we can surprise people and do something that they do not expect. I think that’s why this blew up because no one would film in these conditions, most people aren’t even skiing, they’re just staying home because the conditions are too bad.
You were a part of the most recent Sweetgrass film, “Valhalla” What was it like working with them? And, whose idea was it to ski naked?
The Sweetgrass guys are great people. They’re special people in a good way. They have their own way of being, and they aren’t searching for likes. I lived in their house in Nelson, BC for about a month last year, and it was probably the driest month they’ve had up there. The nude idea sounded quite fun, and we had a few sessions of nude skiing. They’re total free spirits and it was really great to be a part of their mission.
Those shit-fuck conditions look a lot like some freeride comps. Have you ever competed in big-mountain skiing?
I did some comps years ago and they were fun, but it didn’t seem like the thing for me. To ski a face someone else picks for you in conditions that might be bad got me a bit nervous.
You talk a lot about doing things “different.” From that online magazine to an edit that got everybody talking to a webisode that’s looking to surprise people. Where are you finding inspiration to do things in a new and fresh way?
I get inspired mostly in seeing people have fun. It is too much about pushing the sport forward and sometimes people are progressive just by having fun, and that’s what I find inspirational. The fun factor and people who are playing with the terrain in different ways is inspiring. I like watching Nicolas Müller ride. And, this edit is super straight-forward hard-charging skiing, and it’s really inspiring to look at people who ski like that with control like Ian McIntosh and Sverre Liliequist—he’s an inspiration for everyone over here. I find a lot of inspiration from the people I ski with, too.
Did those lines have you gripped?
For sure, standing on top of those lines had my heart racing. But, on the other hand, what I am really scared about is snow moving and avalanches. I think I said this everyday, “Well, we don’t have to worry about avalanches.” It was so sweet to not have to worry about that. I was less scared skiing the shit-fuck conditions compared to skiing a sweet face with no tracks on it because I knew what I was going to get. It was entirely up to me. I’d look at a line and say to myself, “Okay, I have to brake there.” It was totally up to me, but when I ski deep pow there’s always this uncertainty and there’s a lot that is out of my control.
It looked fun though…
Yeah! Some of those lines were really fun and I would come off the line feeling like I had lightning bolts coming out of my fingers.