Shaping The Future | The Hrund Hanna Thor Interview

Iceland's Hrund Hanna gives us the scoop on what it takes to be a park shaper in Europe's foremost freestyle resort

Hotlapping P60 on a bluebird day with your crew is about as close to heaven as most of us reprobates are ever going to get. And some people get to do it every day. And get paid for it. Jealous? Yeah, us too. Introducing Hrund Hanna Thor, a park shaper living and working in Laax, Switzerland.

With the largest halfpipe in the world, Olympic sized pro-line kickers and almost 100 obstacles split across their parks, Laax is undoubtedly the hub of European freestyle. Hrund and the crew are responsible for building and maintaining the parks, keeping everything in order and generally getting the hype up among locals and tourists. When she’s not shovelling, Hrund Hanna spends her time riding for Lobster Snowboards as well as Vans boots, and if you haven’t heard of her before- now’s time to take note.

“The real reason for me to get into shaping was just so I could snowboard as much as possible, and to start exploring the world through it”

Bored of your 9-5? Ever wondered what it takes to live and work in one of the raddest resorts in the world? Read on to find out more about Hrund Hanna and her life in the mountains.

Tell us a bit about your job – what’s a typical day in the life of a park shaper? Is there even such a thing?
Being a shaper is many things, every day is different. It’s definitely a lot more challenging than people might think, but I love that about my job. You get to see the sunrise and set while being in the mountains while being out in nature with some great people.

It’s a great experience but to put it into some real short words, I guess you can call me a professional shoveler hahah.

How did you get here? What made you want to get into this side of snowboarding?
I started snowboarding when I was around maybe 17 years old in Iceland and quickly got around to wanting to hit some obstacles, but there wasn’t too much of anything. So, me and some of the kids at home in Iceland would just shape for free so someone would actually do it. From there on I was like, “why am I even doing this for free for”, and I sent it out into the world. I started off shaping in Austria, at Backyards Park in Brandnertal and from there I made it to Laax a year after. So, the real reason for me to get into shaping was just so I could snowboard as much as possible, and to start exploring the world through it.

Was it always the plan? How did it evolve along the way?
Definitely not. I was pretty good at Basketball before I quit, I did probably every sport before I got into snowboarding. When my friends showed me what snowboarding was about, and I finally made it on the hill, there was no turning back. The people, the energy, it was so pure. They didn’t give a shit about falling or even landing a trick, it was the effort you put into it that people got stoked on and I love that. The Icelandic snowboard scene is hesh as fuck, big shout out to everyone at home you’re all bunch of legends and made snowboarding such an amazing experience for me!

You’re riding for the Lobster team, how did you get involved with the Helgasons? What are they like as teammates/bosses?
I have been and still am a massive fan of the Helgasons, and when I started snowboarding that was the only board brand I wanted to get on. I had some friends that helped me get noticed at first and then they were really stoked to get me on board and to have me as part of the brand. Halldor and Eiki are great people and that’s what got me on the brand in the first place: their personalities and creative outlook on snowboarding.

“Since this is a pretty physical job, I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be doing this because it’s too hard for me … while I’m doing my job”

It’s still quite rare to see female park shapers, why do you think this is? Is it a cultural thing, or a physical thing? How do you think we can start getting more women involved in this side of the industry?
I think it’s still looked at as a male dominant job, just like many others. Since this is a pretty physical job, I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be doing this because it’s too hard for me… while I’m doing my job. I don’t let that affect me though because it is definitely a cultural thing.

More women are not giving a fuck about this though which is sick because it can be hard to be put down because you were born with a vagina. We should all be a team and treat each other like such, no matter the gender. People should definitely be more open to allowing women into the workplaces and to give us a chance because we can do this for sure and women have to also be more open to just going for it.

The fear of not being able to do these things is imprinted into women very early on so we need to keep telling the women and girls that are coming up how fkn strong and capable we are because I have seen women do all these hard “ male “ jobs and absolutely kill it in what they are doing. So do what you want to do and fuck what people think of it. There will always be people that have something to say so just let them while we keep showing them how wrong they are.

Working and living in Laax sounds like the dream, are there any downsides to the job?
It’s definitely dream-worthy and an amazing place to be at, and a lot of people might think there aren’t so many downsides to it but the reality is as well that you can have it all and still struggle with life in general, no matter who you are or what you do. Just be nice and check on your friends.

The job itself is great and can be extremely exhausting but I find that very rewarding as well.

You moved to Switzerland from Iceland, what’s the scene like over there?
I love the snowboard scene in Iceland or at least how it was when I left. It was the proper send fest- ‘just do it and see what happens’ kind of mindset that was going on all the time. On the other side, we have some rough weather and conditions but we make it up with the people that are involved. They are the greatest people and I couldn’t be more stoked that I got to be a part of it!

How does Laax promote and encourage up and coming freestyle?
The Snowpark Laax crew is amazing and it’s very inspiring working with them and everyone that is involved. Now after the covid times, we’ve been trying to have some more stuff going on so people can come more together and enjoy skiing/snowboarding and just life in general again.

We also have the Crap show that Lucas “Blume” Rösli films and edits by himself. He’s been doing this for years now and is great at it and an absolute legend as well. If you haven’t seen them you should def check em out.

“I honestly went into shaping so I could snowboard as much as possible”

Living in the home of European freestyle you must see so many good riders each day, there are so many rad riders coming up, who should we be keeping our eyes on, who do you think is the ‘next big thing’?
I’ve been eyeing out this ripper in the park, a Scottish girl named Emily Rothney. She’s a great snowboarder and a great person as well. Big respect and can’t wait to see what she will do in the future. Also, while I’m at it, Jake and Joe Simpson are some of the most beautiful and talented people I’ve met. Their riding, filming, editing… They do it all themselves, big respect. And to end it off with, I can not not talk about Maisie Hill, such an amazing person and rider as well. She definitely has it all and is a big inspiration to me, hitting street and doing comps. Just an all-around legend basically.

Where do you see yourself over the next few years? Is shaping a long term career option or do you see it as a stopgap between other things?
I honestly went into shaping so I could snowboard as much as possible. It was basically a tool for me to be able to shred great resorts and get money while doing it. Now I want to come back each year, but I’m going to film some more snowboarding and create something tight hopefully, street has also been a big interest for me so I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

Have you ever found it difficult to be part of such a physical, machismo-fuelled industry? Has this changed over time?
Sometimes I find it difficult in the sense that some people don’t take me as seriously or think that they need someone more manly to help them out. In my head I just don’t understand this, I was a part of a big family, with a bunch of brothers and everything they were capable of, I was too. I might do some things a bit differently, but I’ll make it work. Within my work buddies, it isn’t so bad. Sometimes, of course, there are incidents, but people don’t even realise most of the time. I think things are slowly pushing into a better direction, since this is a topic that people are actually talking about, finally, and more people are learning about it.

What advice would you give to the next generation looking to join this side of the industry?
I repeat: Do what you want to do and fuck what people think of it.


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