Gulli Gudmundsson was up at Castleford over the weekend for the TSA Big Bang Snowboard Show. We spent the day riding with the Icelandic rail demon and then sat down alongside Bataleon marketing guru Dr. Ian Thrashmore to ask him a few questions about growing up in Iceland and his thoughts on the UK scene.
You can read the full interview below.
Hi Gulli, What is your full name date of birth?
Gulli Gudmundsson, 28th May 1986
How has your summer been?
It’s been pretty good - i've been to Copenhagen in Denmark and i've been skating a lot.
So you started out snowboarding going to Sälen snowboard school. How was that?
I was snowboarding before that, but going there took me to the next level. We had school for three days and two days riding. The location of the school is just next to five different resorts, three of them have really good parks where we would ride for at least four days of the week. So it was really good.
Do they have girls?
Errr... well it’s a really small town, it’s like white trash, so all the girls are at a low standard.
So you have to modify your standards?
Is snowboarding treated as more of a serious sport in Scandinavia, like football or rugby is treated over here?
In Sweden and Norway it is pretty serious and has been for a while, but there are always guys who are not taking it seriously at all. And in school there were two groups, the good riders and then the locals. The good riders wanted to snowboard with the aim of being pro riders. It was a lot more expensive to be in the elite group and because we didn’t get any money from Iceland we went to the local group. It was a lot better because you didn’t have to train as much. It was really laid back we didn’t have to get up at 5am to go swimming or running like the elite group did.
Whats your view on that? Do you think having too much of a training regime can take the fun out of it or does it just make you a better rider?
It probably makes you a better rider but at the same time snowboarding shouldn’t be treated like a real athlete sport. I don’t want to be an athlete, my lifestyle is snowboarding. So I don’t want to be going to the gym to be doing extra training, just ride as much as you want and then you are going to get good.
I always found that skateboarding was the only training I ever needed. And I have seen you skate: you are good, so obviously you can skate in the summer. Because of that do you find it easier to come back each season?
Yeh for sure, it keeps you in the game. I mean it’s really different but it has the same movements and keeps you in shape because skateboarding is so hard.
How did you get your first sponsor?
It was second year at school and we came to London for a Team Iceland vs England, Finland and Sweden.
Did you win?
No we didn’t
But you got a board?
Yeh a pretty sick board actually, I was stoked.
In Iceland you either have 24 hours of sunlight or 24 hours of darkness depending on the time of year, so how does that work with the snowboarding?
It’s really hard to do a day mission during December and January. Two years ago we always did night shoots but then we got over it because the shoot always gets a lot longer than you expected - you try forever to get the trick and end up finishing at 6am. Then the next day is ruined because you only wake up at 5pm. Now we have been doing a lot of day missions and it is working pretty well. The system has been, we do a rail session and then after that we go to the next spot and dig it up so it is ready for the next day. That is the perfect system.
You have your new part in 2112 from Standard Films, how did you find it filming with those guys? And were you happy with the end result?
Yeh for sure, it is kind of like a dream come true filming with Standard. You grew up watching Mack Dawg on VHS, so yeh it is super awesome.
From the sections you’ve had it is pretty obvious you are a street rider. Any other types of snowboarding float your boat?
I dont know, I try every year to do some powder but it doesn’t work out. Usually I get injured and come back in March so any powder riding is done.
Now that you have been and done a day in the dome. What are your thoughts about the UK scene?
I really like the UK and Holland because you just have to work with what is there. Of course Iceland is a lot better than here because we have a lot of snow for rail riding, but at the same time our parks are not good at all but they are getting better. So hopefully they are going to get really good.
You and the Helgasons, do you think you have inspired the next generation of Icelandic kids to get into snowboarding? Is snowboarding bigger than before the Helgasons and you came along?
Yes, it has never been as big as it is now. Back in the day when we were kids, there were older guys inspiring us but everybody was snowboarding then. Before I got my first board everyone was snowboarding and then when I got my first board everyone was quitting so it was like a fashion wave. We just kept going and there was always some little kids following us, and now there are many riders coming up, really good ones. I think there are twelve icelandic dudes snowboarding, more than ever before.
How important do you think it is for you as a european rider to look to be a successful rider in America?
Riding in Scandinavia is good, and then getting into the US magazines or videos gets your name out there but it always helps to go there and do events or just ride the park.
Do you like to go to America?
Yeh, for sure.
Doing the rail jams in America, is that something you want to do more of?
Yeh I would definitely be down for that. And I want to ride more street rails there. But it is just so nice to ride street rails in Scandinavia because you never get busted, its not that far between spots and it's small but so much is there.
If you were English and had to ride in domes, do you think you would have still got into it? Or do you think you got into it because everything was right on your doorstep?
I think if I was English I probably would have started skateboarding.
Have your filming duties and the other things that go with being a pro snowboarder stopped you from doing the kind of riding that you want to do?
When I was at school before I started traveling a lot I was just riding park and that was so much fun. I love it and I don't get to do that a lot anymore but at the same time I just want to work on my part. I get just as much fun out of that so I am still enjoying snowboarding just as much as I did in the beginning.
So you used to ride park a lot more? What is the most spins you have done?
Yeh, ummm a 900. Just frontside.
If you had to pick a favourite rail trick what would it be?
I don’t really have a favourite rail trick. I like gapping rails because it’s such a nice feeling when you land on the rail and your board goes... “rouwww". But I don’t know, a nosepress probably?
And a favourite kicker trick? Are you into all the crazy spins and flips or are you and old school man that likes to see the style?
No way. I would say a front 3 indie, or a back 180 melon. And I would have to say a method, or a switch method actually.
If you could design and build your own park line what would you put in it?
I don’t feel comfortable riding the park rails. I just think it’s sketchy because you don’t build the kicker yourself and usually the landings are really steep. But I would probably just have a regular down bar, pretty simple something you can find on the street but do a lot with.
Apart from the actual snowboarding, what are the other things you like about the lifestyle of a pro snowboarder?
The only bad thing about it is getting injured. What I like about it is just all the buddies you have and the people you get to meet and hang out with - some of the people you looked up to when you were younger. And travelling for sure. I can’t really find a bad thing about it.
What are your plans for this winter?
I don’t really have anything planned. I am going to Austria, and then the Tokoyo rail jam in mid November. And then as soon as the snow starts falling just start filming.
Well I wish you luck with it all, have a good winter!