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B.O.B Talks Life And Skiing With Swedish Freeski Legend Jacob Wester

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Name: Jacob Wester

Profession: Pro Freeskier

Sponsors: Armada Skis, Monster Energy, Oakley

 

B.O.B: You have been in freeskiing for a very long time, can you tell us what do you think of the progression of the sport and how it’s kind of developed into different niches, you have the pipe jocks, the urban dudes, the back country jump guys, it doesn’t seem like there are that many guy filming super overall parts anymore? Do you think this is true and if so how can it be improved?

 

Jacob Wester: It really is an amazing spectacle to not only be a part of, but also to behold. Trick names we used to joke about only half a decade ago are now almost mandatory for the contest skiers, and people are skiing down mountains, handrails, terrain parks, anywhere where snow is involved to some degree, in ways that would be completely unthinkable for someone buying the first twin tip skis on the market 15 years ago. The reason for there not being any huge overall movie parts anymore is simply that you really can’t be that good, at everything. The level it takes for a skier to impress his fellow comrades, and the giant masses of fans on the internet, is just way too high for anyone to film, say, a big mountain segment with some pipe and urban thrown in. You have to dedicate all your time to one, or maybe a few, disciplines of the sport, and some people are great all-round skiers but still far far behind the ones that put all their time and effort into only one aspect of the sport. I try to land somewhere in the middle, I can still put down a decent slopestyle run but you won’t see me doing dubs in the halfpipe or blind-swapping a quad-kink anytime soon. I have all these mountains to explore, and ways to ski down them that makes sense to me.

 

 

B.O.B: Who were your earliest influences as a skier?

 

Jacob Wester: The very first ski movies I watched were the original Free Radicals series. I say original, because I think they lost something after their first three videos, maybe it was the old crew that grew up and got real jobs or maybe the love just wasn’t there. I was in their movies for a while, but those first three, that’s what planted the seed that would sprout and become the skier I am today. Among the names were Swedish moguls icon Jesper Rönnbäck, backflip hero Robert Olsson, and a guy named Jan Aikio. I still see them all today in various scenes in and around the ski industry but they will always be my heroes. A year or so after, I was introduced to the New Canadian Airforce, so those guys obviously played a huge part as well.

 

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B.O.B: Can you tell us about how long you have been playing guitar for and who do you count as some of your music influences?

 

Jacob Wester: I’ve been playing guitar since 3rd grade. I wanted an electric guitar, and my mom told me I would borrow one of my grandpa’s old acoustic nylon strings, and take classical lessons. If I liked it, I would get an electric guitar. A year or so after taking lessons every week, I got an Epiphone les Paul II, that I still play to this day. I still love that thing, it’s probably the most significant present I’ve ever received. My music influences are too many to list, but Metallica inspired me to start playing the guitar, and later on I would listen a lot to classic singer songwriters like Dylan, the Boss and Neil Young, mixed with contemporary indie rock music like Bright Eyes and Modest Mouse. I would also attribute much of my playing style to post-hardcore bands such as Thrice and Thursday, as well as punk rock bands like Against Me! and Alkaline Trio.

 

 

B.O.B: When you originally signed with Armada skis after being with Scott did you ever anticipate that freeskiing would get this big and that you would still be signed to the same awesome company ?

 

To be honest I wasn’t anticipating much, I was a 16-year old who just wanted to eat, sleep and shit skiing, and were I was headed with it really didn’t matter back then. I was a huge Armada fan because of JP and Tanner, and to sign with them was a dream come true. That year I went on some big park shoots in the US with Poor Boyz, Oakley and Armada and I still remember those sessions as some of my career highlights. It’s easy to get nostalgic about that sort of stuff, when I was so young and impressionable and everyone I met were some sort of legends or heroes to me. I love still being on Armada, I’ve always made a point of staying loyal to brands even if better opportunities arise along the way. In the long run I think it pays off.

 

 

 

B.O.B: Who are your favorite skiers in the game atm?

 

Jacob Wester: Right now I am a big fan of The Bunch. I look at what they’re doing and I see pure, raw, passion for skiing. Not park skiing, not urban, not big mountain, those kids don’t put labels on their shit, you know? They just go out there, do weird and most of the time really hard stuff, all live together, make their videos together, sleep in tents and cars, and I love their whole attitude and outlook. There’s no room for egos and divas anymore because if you’re not working the hardest, you’re out. These guys are in.

 

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6)What are your thoughts on the current state of the ski industry?

 

Jacob Wester:  I don’t know, what is “the current state of the ski industry”? I really don’t know. It’s not an industry generating much money, that’s for sure. Or maybe that money isn’t ending up in the right pockets. It’s crazy to see all this love and excitement and risk-taking out there, and for what? A couple grand of travel budget and free skis? I consider myself among of the lucky ones because I got in at a time where you could count the number of truly great skiers on a few hands, and managed to establish myself, creating some sort of brand that inspire people. Now there’s unsponsored kids out there throwing down dub all 4 ways, and people doing dishes at night and sending 60 foot double stagers in the morning. I don’t know if it’s the lousy winters, the economy still suffering, if the scene is just over-saturated or what, but it doesn’t make sense that people work their asses off for companies, being ambassadors and building brand-recognition, while simultaneously risking their lives on a daily basis, for less money than a fast food cook working half time. I know it isn’t about the money, but imagine what a crew like The Bunch, or the B&E show, or any one of the plethora of unique groups of skiers out there could accomplish with real paycheques? It takes money to make superstars, and superstars sell product, that’s where I think ski companies mess up, and it needs to change.

 

 

B.O.B: Whats your favorite warm up trick on a big backcountry kicker?

 

Jacob Wester: Big threes never get old, neither to watch or do. I try to do something a little more interesting for the first track shot though. Switch rodeos are fun, like really flippy 540s that you can stall and really fall out of the sky from.

 

 

B.O.B: Would you ever hit chads gap ?

 

Jacob Wester:  Sure, if you build the jump and the inrun for me! I love big jumps, but I think they make more sense when you don’t have to shovel for a week to build them. I like looking for more natural features. Then there’s the whole “one-up” factor. I don’t like revisiting spots unless I feel like I could do a better trick than the person before me. In the case of Chad’s, I think Tanner’s switch cork 9, or Tim Durtschi’s dub 10 will be really hard to beat. It’s such a high-speed, low trajectory style jump.

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B.O.B: With all the different film companies that you have filmed with from MSP to Poorboys to now filming your own web series what do you prefer? filming with big film companies for one legit video part? or dropping several edits over the winter like you currently do?

 

Jacob Wester:  It depends. Sometimes doing your own thing can be really stressful, like right now I have all this footage from the end of the season just sitting there in a big terabyte-sized pile on my laptop. It’s fun to edit and release it yourself but it’s hard to know in what end to begin. With the big film companies you just travel around and make sure to throw down but at the same time you’ll never know what will make it in the movie, and a lot of their shoots are so costly it doesn’t make financial sense. Which brings me back to the stupid money issue, it’s hard to create amazing content when you have people around you that need to get paid, trips to book, heli time where you basically throw dollar bills out the window by the minute. But when it all comes together there’s nothing like that feeling of pride, that you created something from your own idea and your own will-power. Both are good, you know, it’s hard to rank them.

 

 

B.O.B: Whos the best all round skier in the world at the moment in your opinion?

 

Jacob Wester: Ooohh. Best all round skier. That’s a tough one. I’d say it’s a toss-up between Candide, Sammy Carlson and Dane Tudor. They all have different styles and strengths but I feel like they can hold their own in any sort of environment, and I really admire all of their styles.

 

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B.O.B: Can you tell us your thoughts on Jp Auclairs recent death and what kind of an impact that has made on you personally ?

 

Jacob Wester: Well, my thoughts around what happened is probably the same as the rest of the skiing community – shock, sadness and an emptiness that’s hard to put into words. JP meant a lot to me as a skier, but also as a friend. I had known him for many years and we really communicated on the same wavelength, we shared the same values. He was one of the most intelligent people I knew, not just in skiing but in general. It just goes to show that no matter how experienced and smart you are in the mountains, things happen that are beyond your control, and you just have to be prepared to face it when it does happen.

 

B.O.B: Does his death make you reluctant to ski bigger mountains and get into really big remote lines that require alpinism and a high level of mountaineering skill?

 

Jacob Wester: No, the other way around, it makes me more motivated to learn and prepare myself mentally for those big missions. I don’t think I’ll ever get into the super-nasty kind of steepskiing though, I enjoy being able to open up and make turns, those iceaxe-in-hand jumpturn lines aren’t for me. I don’t mind no-fall zones, since I trust myself when I ski, and as long as I can maintain some speed I feel good about the bigger stuff. It’s when you have to stop, and slowly inch yourself down stupid stuff I feel like it’s a little bit out of control, that’s just not my thing. It’s like reverse climbing, almost. Maybe I’ll change my mind mind in 10 years, who knows where this life takes you?

 

B.O.B: With guys doing triple cork 1620’s, people throwing big back country doubles and people skiing bigger and more exposed lines each year do you see a limit to the progression of freeskiing? and if not where do you see freeskiing and action sports in general heading in the next 10 years?

 

Jacob Wester: I don’t see a limit at all, I embrace progression! I think most people get too caught up in the linear view of progression, that it can only go one way, you know? I see it more as an outward explosion, with skiing progressing in many different ways simultaneously. If quadruple corks are possible, they will happen, if someone thinks they can ski steep lines backwards, that too will happen. If someone wants to go off jumps sideways, that will happen too.There’s always a line that can be skied differently, or a backcountry jump spot that can be hit in a new way or with a new trick. I try not too think too much of what other people do, what’s important to me is that I progress as a skier, confidence-wise and experience-wise. It’s all an adventure, and the beauty of it is that it’s impossible to predict.

 

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B.O.B: You are known as an avid surfer and you regularly go to Indonesia on surf trips, can you tell us how you originally started and do you surf in Sweden?

 

Jacob Wester: First time I surfed was in Newport Beach, where Chris O’Connell from Armada Skis, and Greg Strokes from Oakley took me out on a waist-high day in some probably pretty shitty conditions. I remember being freaked out by the prospect of being eaten by sharks, and thinking the waves were much much bigger than they looked from the beach. That same fall I joined Jon Olsson on a trip to Brazil where I started figuring it all out. I was hooked from the start, and here I am ten years later, en route to Indonesia as I am typing this answer. I guess it’s just a great way to take a break from skiing, it’s the ultimate contrast. Just you and a surfboard, no heavy luggage, not much hassling, not too expensive. Riding pure energy created by a storm far away. I just can’t go on a vacation and sit on the beach all day, I need to stay active and surfing is the perfect outlet for me. And yes, I do surf in Sweden! Especially in the fall, when a spot just south of Stockholm gets pretty good whenever we get a good south storm. Some years you can get 2-3 days a week with decent beachbreak peaks, sure it’s usually onshore and messy but it’s actually way better than people think. It makes you appreciate those clean Indo swell lines that much more!

 

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B.O.B: What is the most amazing experience freeskiing has given you as a person?

 

Jacob Wester: Wow, too many to recount! Skiing freshies in May, under an amber sun at 10:30 pm in Riksgränsen, Sweden, or 2000 meters of vertical in untracked powder in Chamonix. Or maybe landing a 150 foot double flatspin off a windlip in the Whistler backcountry. Pretty much all of my truly life-changing experiences have been while strapped on a pair of skis so it’s hard to pick one moment.

 

B.O.B: If the world was going to end tomorrow and you could do what ever you wanted with who ever you wanted, what would you do, where would you go and who would you go with?

 

Jacob Wester: Wow, tomorrow? That doesn’t leave you much time for traveling. I’d probably grab Sofia and head out to my family’s cottage north of Stockholm, row out on the lake, and watch the sunset.

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B.O.B: Who are your 3 greatest influences out side of the sport of skiing?

 

Jacob Wester: Conor Oberst, Stephen Hawkins and Edward Snowden.

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B.O.B: Where do you see your self in 10 years time?

Jacob Wester: Hopefully skiing deep powder in the winter and surfing all summer. That would be neat.

 

B.O.B: Shout Outs?

 

Jacob Wester: My mom and dad for letting me follow my passion even if it meant dropping out of school, my amazing girlfriend Sofia for putting up with me traveling half the year, my sponsors Monster Energy, Oakley and Armada for always supporting me and letting me choose my path in skiing, Daniel Rönnbäck for documenting so many crazy moments on the mountain over the last few years, and all the great people on the internet liking, commenting and following my crazy life, in the end you guys are what makes it all possible!

ARtrip UK featuring Mike Hornbeck, Jacob Wester, and Mees van Lierop from ARMADA SKIS INC. on Vimeo.

Unfiltered Skiing – Jacob Wester season reel 13/14 from Jacob Wester on Vimeo.

UFS_S02_videoblog #2 – ROND from Jacob Wester on Vimeo.

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