Terje Haakonsen – The Haakonsen Faktor – 1998
The frontside 360 is one of the best looking tricks you can do on a snowboard, and like all things classic it is also relatively simple. With this in mind there have obviously been a hell of a lot of frontside 3’s thrown down over the years, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Indys, road gaps, liens, step ups, stalefishes, rewinds, alley oops, tail grabs… and that’s just scratching the surface. However, one factor that makes cutting this down easier is that, because almost every pro has this trick in their arsenal, we’re clearly going to be looking at the style masters to find the best ever version.
Since the front 3 has been around for so long, there were crew making it look good almost fifteen years ago, and that brings a lot of older riders into the picture. Probably first and foremost is Tarquin Robbins; if you talk to most of the pros who made their names in the late 90’s they will tell you that in the early 90’s Tarquin Robbins was style. At a time when high backs were almost non-existent, Tarquin gave master classes in board control - not to mention laying down one of the first front 3 shifty rewinds. Out of the same box was legendary K2 giant and pioneer of the wide board Adam Merriman, whose heavyweight JCB approach to freeriding saw him barge through some of the most powerful toe edge to toe edge frontside 3’s ever committed to film. As we edge into the familiar terrain of mid nineties there is one name that, like the Artist Formerly Known As Prince, was light years ahead of his time. Jamie Lynn made snowboarding look effortless, and while he already owns my vote for best ever method, I think the frontside three sixty was what really set him apart. He managed to muster more poise and composure in his front 3’s than most pros today - who routinely have double the amount of air time to work with.
Devun Walsh and Marc Frank Montoya are both worthy of a mention for their contribution – doping up the front 3 with a rock solid wide stance, heel edge take-off and no grab – while looking at the new millennium, the likes of Gigi Rüf and Nicolas Müller have done sterling work. Müller especially came very close to top spot – for much the same reason I picked out the eventual winner - with his high speed, first track frontside 3 stalefish in Alaska.
Many will point to Mads Jonsson and Freddie Austbo in last year’s Standard movie Paradox, who thanks to a combination of massive kahunas (Mads) clever camerawork (Freddie) and technical perfection (both) found their front 3’s immortalized in 16mm. I’m going to discount these though, for the simple reason that they are park kickers. Call me a trick or terrain Nazi, but like I said before, a million people have done front 3’s – so to stand out it really has to be special. Ok, Mads’ was a world record, and Freddie almost lands on his fingers, but it’s still a perfectly groomed park kicker whichever way you look at it.
And so to my choice: Terje Haakonsen in his freeride/recluse period (’96-‘99). In my mind, this is when Terje was doing his best snowboarding; he was riding less than 30 days a year and rekindling his love of the sport. At a time when the rest of snowboarding was obsessed with backside rodeos and cab 9’s, Terje was off getting good at surfing - and then learning to apply the same flow to his snowboarding. The results were two biographical videos: the hugely successful Subject Haakonsen (1996) and the ridiculously short (just shy of 17 minutes) Haakonsen Faktor (1998).
You need look no further than the first shot of Faktor to find the frontside 3 in question. The entry is nothing to write home about, he’s scratching around on top of a rock, which he duly hops off, and then jump turns into a tight chute. He makes a meal of the guts but gets it together as he exits and then it appears, right in the middle of the exit: a perfect spine. Approaching on his heel edge, Haakon lines it up and gently opens his shoulders into the front 3. Instantly he’s got the indy, and in protest at the then fashionable style of understated tweaks, he bones the shit out of it. It is all textbook stuff, but the real joy for me - and the reason why I have chosen this above all other frontside 3’s - is the landing. It’s first track, with barely a hint of compression, and Terje rides out with just a hint of momentum swaying through his arms. Top drawer. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s one of my all time top 3 snowboard moments.