Interview in Motion: Henrik Harlaut
The Winter X Games Big Air champ on skiing with kids, a new movie, and style
Videos by Mike Rogge
I click-in to my skis and duck walk to get on the lift with Henrik Harlaut and Paul Bergeron. We’re at Woodward at Tahoe, at Boreal in California. It’s June 28. It’s warm, but the nights have been cold enough to harden the features in the park. The chair comes and we sit down.
POWDER: It looks like a good set-up here. How are the features? Everything good?
Henrik Harlaut: Everything is super fun. It’s not the biggest stuff, but it’s really fun and cool to jib. It’s easy to learn new stuff ’cause there aren’t any high features or anything. I went snowboarding the first three days, because some of the features hadn’t melted out yet. It was mellower.
And the campers? Anyone standing out?
The kids are cool. They’re killing it. Skiing very well. It’s sick. A couple kids are here from last year’s Inspired Week.
Do you like skiing with campers? Some pro skiers don’t always love it.
Yeah! It’s definitely fun. It’s always nice to show back the love. I had an opportunity when I was younger, during Jon Olsson Invitational, to ski with Sammy [Carlson]. I have that feeling still and I remember what it was like to ski with really good skiers. I always try to think of that time when I skied with better skiers and I was young. I try and do the same for the kids, because I know how much that helped me and inspired me.
We reach the top of the lift. Harlaut leads the way, B-Paul follows. He drops in…
The laps are quick, under ten minutes. At the bottom again, we load the lift and continue the interview.
Tell me about what went down at the top of the X Games Big Air with Tanner. You weren’t thinking about the triple at all?
HH: I had definitely thought about it. I even said to Kevin [Perron], Paul, and Phil [Casabon], and Emil [Bergeron] on the tour that if it comes down to it and I kind of have to do it, I’d probably do it because I’d felt it doing nose-butter dubs on bigger jumps, like with how slow I had to do it. So I definitely had it in my mind. And then I brought it up a little bit earlier to [Tanner], but he said I didn’t really need it. I had done three runs that were really good in the beginning and I had a good score so he told me just to show all my other tricks, to give a little show and not crazy doubles or anything… I guess I did a double, a dub 7 and a bio 10. After that he was like, if I felt like it, I should go for it. He saw that I could do it definitely. It was awesome. He pushed me in a good way and he got me hyped to do it. I’m not really too hyped about all the triples or whatever, but then hearing a person that is so core to the sport from the very beginning, one of the starters, saying that I should do the triple, that made me like, “Alright, I guess it’s not too gay, or whatever.”
Have you done one since?
Nope. That’s the only one.
You’re at X Games 2014 in Aspen, would you do it again?
Maybe. Probably. I don’t know.
And then you got a medal in slopestyle too. What did that mean for you, in your career, to win those two medals back-to-back?
It means a lot, but it doesn’t mean everything. I would have definitely been fine without it. It was a big goal since I was really young and would see Tanner win and everything. I always wanted to get a medal in X Games. That was one of my biggest goals when I was younger. As I got older, I was fine just doing video segments. I didn’t really see the X Games podium too close. It felt like it was going a little further away from me, but then this year everything started clicking again for contests. What happened was surprising and it was awesome. I was so stoked.
Keep your tips up. We exit the lift and skate to the top of the park. Harlaut draws a lot of attention, but it doesn’t phase him. He drops into the jump and rail section, then flows into…
When he skis through the park, people take notice, likely because of the dreadlocks and massive clothes. The night before, at Truckee Thursday, I ran into Harlaut and we discussed doing this interview. “Holy crap,” said the kids walking by. “That’s Henrik Harlaut.” In the park, people are drawn to his impeccable style. We load the lift…
We were talking about X Games and how it wasn’t something you necessarily set out to do. With that in mind, what do you want to do with your skiing?
Umm. That’s a hard one. A lot of things. Most of all, I want to ski for as long as…for a long time. I don’t really ever want to stop skiing. I want to continue having fun and always finding ways of having fun with it. I really like creating stuff with Phil and Paul and Inspired. I want to have fun and makes as many movies as possible.
How would you like to be remembered? You look back at Evan Raps and Mikael. How would you want the next Henrik Harlaut to look back and think about you?
A mini-version of T-Hall. Somebody that was doing pretty good in contests, but still wasn’t only contest focused. I tried to make movies as much as I tried to do well in contests. I want to be remembered as a style person that was able to do contests and movies at the same time.
What’s your favorite kind of style? Of skiing?
Yeah, of skiing. I guess…it’s hard. I like so many different styles. I still always watch all the old movies…C.R.’s style, Mikael, Crichton, Liam Downey, T-Hall, Candide… All those guys…that’s my favorite style, that early era of it.
I heard you guys are making another movie this year?
Yeah… It’s nothing too crazy or anything. It’s another movie me, Phil, and Paul are putting together. It’s like a season recap. A cool thing with it is that the whole movie is so relatable for anybody. We have a lot of Demo tour stuff, when we ski any little small mountains on the East Coast and Midwest. Unfortunately, but it fits good to the subject of the film, is we don’t have any pow. But we have backcountry from Mount Hood that’s hike accessible and easy to get to, urban, and everything is super relatable. It’s a cool movie. You can really see our style in it.
Does it have a name?
We’re not fully sure, but we talked about Jammin’. There’s going to be a lot of jams in it from different spots we’ve been to. That’s how we came up with it.
Once again, we exit the lift and head to the park. I follow Harlaut…
We get back on the lift, this time Taylor Seaton and Brady Perron join us for the last run of the day, before lunch.
So you want the movie to be relatable. Why?
HH: I think it’s cool because it shows that you don’t need to be in a high position in this industry to create a movie like that. I can see any kid do the exact same thing if they have the will and the power to do it.
Taylor Seaton: Yeah, you don’t need the big budget, which is so sick. Just going out an doing what any kid is capable of if they have skis, gear, and a car…You can make it happen.
HH: And like a GoPro and you can make a similar movie.
What’s on tap for the rest of the summer?
I’ll be here for a little while, then we go to Mount Hood for session three, Inspired Week. And then off to Quebec for D-Splash water ramp camp. After that, I’m going back to France. My parents have like a castle down in southern France, where I’m gonna go and do a lot of, not rehab because I’m not injured at the moment, but preparation for next season. Try and get a bit stronger and bike a bunch and get in nice shape and then off to New Zealand in the middle of August and then it starts all over again.
You’re busy. Winter never ends.
HH: Nope. It doesn’t, but I’m thankful for that. It’s not a bad thing for me. Yes sir.
It’s getting towards closing time. It’s almost 11:58 a.m.
Thanks for the interview buddy.
No problem. Thank you. Word up.
We exit the lift. At the top of the park, I record this video…
We head inside for lunch.
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