Ståle Sandbech really needs no introduction, as much a name in snowboarding today as White, Horgmo and McMorris. At 23 years old he has been topping podiums and stacking footage long before his 2014 Olympic silver medal. Whilst recovering at home in Norway from a double knee surgery we caught up with him for a chat about life on the pro circuit and friendship.
Stale, thank you very much for taking the time to chat with us. First of all, how are your legs?
My Legs are getting better for sure, they haven?t been hurting a bunch so it’s been quite relaxing just to not do much! There is stuff going on all the time though, bunch of friends coming over, it’s been nice being home for a while I haven?t really been home for this long in like 10 years. At the same time, I needed to have the surgery on my legs, I guess I was in need of some time to relax too.
So you have been enjoying your time at home; with this being the longest you’ve been back in so long, does the traveling ever take its toll?
Nah, I enjoy traveling. For sure after long trips you want go home and see your homies and sleep in your own bed and hang out in Norway. But I get bored really fast, it’s just been such a big part of my life for so long, it’s in my blood now.
After 10 years what got you to this position then?
I started by just going to competitions when I was younger, it went pretty good. I kept doing it eventually started getting budget and now it’s my career. To be able to snowboard all year long, it’s insane you know! It’s a dream for a little kid to do what you love and travel everywhere, snowboard and skip school.
You are one of those very rare riders that seems to balance competition and filming so well. At the level you?re competing at, does the filming ever detract from your training so to speak? How do you balance to two?
I just really like to snowboard all the time, be creative and have fun – just do it all. I love to compete, I love to film, but also just to go out there without any pressure, no cameras – just with friends. For me it’s the perfect combination, at the end of the competition season it gets tiring to do a different competition and fly to a different continent every week so then I just want to go all in on filming. For me it’s the full package, I kind of need it all just to fulfil my energy!
Obviously we have a new generation of riders coming up that have grown up in this triple cork, quad cork age. Now we see kids going training rather than just going riding – do you see this as a positive thing?
For me I?m a competitive guy, in everything I’ve done, I like to do well. But at the same time I think it’s kind of getting out of hand. When you see kids at 10 years or younger with their own personal coach telling them what to do and they?re already out of school?It’s crazy.
I?m not speaking for everyone, everyone is different but for me I just needed to ride with my friends and figure it out. It was just a friendly battle, just cruising and trying new tricks and challenging each other. I think that’s what helped us be more creative, to be able to think out new tricks yourself or find new ways of doing tricks and finding a different way of hitting an obstacle, rather than just copy and paste from whatever you’ve seen already.
For us in the UK, ?Community? is such a big part of snowboarding and where it is now, and hearing you talk it obviously is for you. Do you feel like that kind of community is getting lost somewhat?
For me I don?t go snowboarding on my own, if I don?t have anyone to ride with I stay at home. Snowboarding is something I need to share with others, I need to be able to high five when my friends do cool shit and get high fives back. Just hanging out, forgetting about everything else in the world and doing some scary shit and just having fun.
I guess you still have that, but I can see more in the contest scene the national teams just hanging out together. Like if we?re at a big hotel and you see more and more people only hanging out with their own nationalities. I realised that this year, we don?t only just speak our own language but I?m only sitting with the Norwegians here, why? Why don?t we all just hang out? To a certain extent we do, but I can see it drifting more and more that way. For sure you need to be able to get funded to be able to travel that much and not everyone has their own sponsors so you have to travel with the national team. Hopefully it doesn?t go full-on coaches in ski boots with walkie talkies.
But that’s just the contest scene, you still have people that just want to ride, hang out with their mates and film and be creative. I think that’s the best thing about snowboarding, they?re so many aspects, you just got to figure out what it is you want to do and how you like to do it.
So Stale & Sven the new web series, talk to me about that.
Yeah it’s kind of like an Oakley, Junkyard, Monster thing. Just following us throughout the season, I was kind of busy al lot of the time so I?d just join in whenever I could but it just shows everyone some behind the scenes and good vibes.
It seems everyone the world over is kind of envious of your crew, It’s really impressive to see that standard of riding but also that kind of level of friendship. With RK1, what does the future hold, could that perhaps turn into a brand of its own?
I don?t really know to be honest, a lot of people have been asking us about that. We made some limited products for the crew. Maybe in the future I’ve been thinking about it but it’s not in the making. I think for the now just keep it cool, the crew having fun making edits trying to just inspire other people to go out there with their friends.
Finally what’s in you board bag this season.
For sure the Rome Mod and Targa, Stale Sandbech edition, got my Oakley gear I’ve been rocking the bib pant lately, trying not to get snow in my pants as much as possible. Goggles I kind of change a bit between the Flight Deck and the new Lineminer. No fog, the best quality! Trying to protect my eyes and see all the contrast!
Crank that shit, hang out with your homies and just shred!
Photos: Michi Lehman, courtesy of Rome Snowboards.
Interview: Lewis Mclean.