Real Talk: Halldór Helgason Interview

Who needs parks when you've got creativity? Photo: Cyril Müller

Who needs parks when you’ve got creativity?
Photo: Cyril Müller

Halldór Helgason is a marketing mans dream. Not only is he one of the most talented riders around, but also one of the most popular, respected and approachable guys in the industry. When others are forced into the competition scene to make a name for themselves, Halldór has managed to accomplish this by simply being himself. It might sound cliché but this young Icelandic makes snowboarding look fun and his love for the sport has inspired countless others.

Eiki, Gulli and yourself were sort of cut away from the snowboard scene growing up. Did you realise that you guys were ahead of the pack at that time?
Haha, I wouldn’t really say that we were ahead of the pack at that time. Internet edits didn’t exist back then, so the only way to know what was going on was from the snowboard movies we ordered and imported to Iceland. So we tried to copy/paste what our favourite riders did in those movies to keep up with everyone. When we were old enough, we moved to Sweden for a snowboard high school and that’s where things started slowly happening I guess. It might have seemed like we came out of nowhere since we weren’t a part of a competition scene and we didn’t grow up and progress with all the other European riders at the time. There weren’t that many riders traveling up to Iceland for filming or riding parks because we didn’t have any haha.

Iceland is a pretty small market, was it harder for you guys to break through because of that?
The market in Iceland is tiny. It’s only 300.000 people living there, so I can see that for companies it doesn’t seem to make much sense hehe. We didn’t really think about stuff like that, we just went snowboarding for the fun of it. If we got free stuff we were stoked!

When you first got on Nike you accidently emailed your contract to a bunch of people, was that an accident or was it to secretly show off?
Haha! holy shit man, that was for sure not to show off, I have never felt as professional as I did after stomping that move hehe.
I was signing up for an air and style event and finishing off my Nike contract at the same time. I went up in the search bar and just typed “contract” and then my Nike contract and air & style contract probably both came up and I managed to send my new Nike contract to all the air & style people.

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You recently posted a goodbye to Nike Outerwear on your instagram and then mentioned how snowboarders shouldn’t let Nike back in. What exactly did you mean by that and why?
Well it’s pretty straight up I guess. A lot of people seem to have misunderstood my instagram post thinking I was talking shit on Nike Snowboarding, but my message was not to them at all. It was a thank you to the people working with Nike Snowboarding and a fuck off to the main Nike corporate people that don’t give a shit about anything else then money. This was Nike’s 3rd time coming into snowboarding and bailing out again. Are we really going to let them come in for the 4th time and take over the snowboarding world again?, and then bailing out again if they don’t make their insane profits (like it was this time)?

I don’t care about who comes into snowboarding as long as they are true to what they do. Pretty much all big clothing companies in the industry are owned by huge corporations but they don’t bail as soon as it’s times get a little bit harder. All the brands who are supporting riders, event, media, projects etc are losing sales when a big company comes into snowboarding, so they have to bring something into this world to deserve being here. When I was offered to go to Nike from DC, they really talked about how true they are to snowboarding and they had hired a dream team, not only riders, but really some of the best people from the industry that I liked. So I really believed that they were going to be true to snowboarding this time.

I really thought that Nike was actually here to stay considering this for example:

  1. They killed it with Never Not part 1 and 2
  2. I know they like competitions and Sage Kotsenburg won the first ever Olympics in slopestyle and Ayumu Hirano got 2nd place in halfpipe.
  3. They had the best selling boots
  4. They had such a sick team on snow and off snow

That’s why I feel really dumb when I’m here a few years later without a contract. This is exactly what my DC team manager Nick Olsen told me before I signed with them, “what are you going to do after your contract with them and they bail out of snowboarding again?” and that’s exactly what happened hehe.

But I still have to say that I am really thankful for everything Nike Snowboarding did for me, I had such a sick time with everyone there and I wish it would have kept on going. It is what it is though and I’m sure that its only going to be better for the snowboarding industry in the long run.

The gram that started the storm, follow Halldór on Instagram to read more.

The gram that started the storm, follow Halldór on Instagram to read more.

Did you get into trouble for that and if Nike did make a comeback, do you think that post stopped any chances of that happening?
No, I didn’t get into trouble with my post since I posted it the day I was done with my contract hehe and I’m sure that everyone working with Nike Snowboarding agrees with me as well.
I’m sure the corporate guys don’t care but I really hope that it will make them understand not to come back into snowboarding, but they will maybe just wait 5 more years and try again like they have done in the past. I just hope that us snowboarders won’t be as stupid and let them do it.

You have 7/9/13, Hoppipolla headwear, Lobster and Switchback, which are all be growing in strength rapidly, do you ever think you will branch into outerwear?
Not at the moment at least, it’s hard enough work as it is with all these brands. If I will add something else on top of this, I won’t be able to think about my snowboarding and just turn into a business asshole and I really don’t want that to happen any time soon hehe. Outerwear is also the most expensive thing to do so you need crazy money to be able to afford it, I guess that’s why most of all big brands are owned by big corporations.

You’ve got most of your sponsor’s logos tattooed on your fingers; did they pay extra for that branding? What did your parents say when they saw it?
No, it’s only the brands that I was a part of starting, so of course not. I’m just hooking my self up here hehe. My tattoo style is all about doing stupid and random tattoos, that I will hopefully regret one day. My mom and dad have realised I am pretty random with my tattoos by now, so they don’t care too much haha.

If seen people that are like mini Halldórs, they dress exactly like you with the same outerwear, goggles, haircut, equipment etc have you ever met a fan like that and thought to yourself, wow that was weird?
Haha, first off all when I meet someone like that I get so damn pumped because it actually means that person seems to like what I’m doing. Its such a crazy feeling to have someone look up to you, just like how I looked up to all the other pros when I was young. It doesn’t make sense to me.
The main legend I have met calls himself Captain Harold on instagram, which is my drunken name and he actually tattooed the penis tattoo on his finger as well haha. Hook him up with a follow people: @captainharold.

Is this Halldór or a fan lookalike? Photo: Cyril Müller

Is this Halldór or a fan lookalike?
Photo: Cyril Müller


What is it about you guys that get people so hyped and does the attention ever get annoying?
No I’m always thankful when I see that people like what we are doing. But it’s hard for me to understand what we do that gets people hyped. I guess we just snowboard a lot, try and be creative, send it, have fun and not be too serious about that whole thing.

It seems nowadays that you represent a fun and carefree side of snowboarding whilst on the other side of the spectrum there are some riders who have coaches in team uniforms, soccer dads etc. How do you keep snowboarding fun?
I liked snowboarding so much from the beginning because there were no coaches, or serious national teams and people having to follow a full on training program, so they are strong enough to hold the G-force on the triple penetration flips. If I would have been into that, I would have picked football or some other sport like that. Snowboarding to me has to be completely free and you can do what ever you want when you want, so it doesn’t make any sense at all. But now with the contest scene like this, it’s only getting worse and worse in a way. Too serious, too mainstream, looking too much like aerial skiing, gymnastics and a full on sport.

Snowboarding is split in 2 categories now pretty much: Filming and Contest. It used to be that the main filming guys were doing contests as well, but now if your going to keep up with the level of filming or on contests you pretty much have to focus on either one. There are still some insane riders that keep up with both but it’s really really hard now a days.

But having that said, you can’t hate on progression because as soon as you start doing that it only means that you are slowly fading away from everything I feel like. I just don’t like the serious coach, team training thing that is only getting worse and worse at the moment.

I can’t see you as one of those people that has a fulltime coach or jumps into some foam pit, are you just naturally talented?
Haha, no because that would destroy the meaning of snowboarding for me.

I can’t say that I’m just naturally talented, I’m far away from that actually, but I just rode a lot, had a good time while doing it and tried my best. The main thing is to try new tricks, think about snowboarding all the time and as long as you do that, no matter how un-talented you are you can make it in what ever way you want, I think.

You guys live in Monaco now, that is a pretty rich town with a lot of wealthy people in expensive clothing and cars. Do you guys stand out over there? How do you get along with the locals?
We don’t fit in too good to be honest hehe. A lot of hard times with getting into bars and clubs and so on, but there are a lot of skaters and snowboarders that live around there, so it’s actually way more mellow then we thought. Being able to go to Monaco in the middle of the winter to get away from the snow a little bit is so chill. It’s like getting a mini summer vacation and makes you even more pumped to get back in too snowboarding.

Follow Halldór on his Instagram here