Finland’s Finest – Aarni Toiviainen

Interview by Mike Rogge

Hey Aarni, how’s it going?

I’m very good thank you. Now I finally have some time to do other stuff after a really busy ski season. I’m applying to several different schools and I’ve been running around in entrance exams for couple of weeks now.

What is Nipwitz? Who are you guys?
The word, “Nipwitz” as far as I know has no meaning in any language. We came up with the word by accident and it sounded so funny and weird that we named our project after it.

We are just a group of good friends who have been skiing and traveling together for many years. The main crew consists of Oskari Raitanen, Tommi Kostilainen, Matti Räty, Jussi Mononen and myself behind the camera. All the guys are specialized in different aspects of skiing but share the same mindset for creating something new.

Oskari Raitanen and I realized about a year ago that making a full length ski movie and releasing it in October-November would be a bad idea. It would just disappear behind all the pro ski movies and other awesome movies. We wanted to release several shorter movies during the season so more people would see our stuff. Nipwitz is a mixture of a ski movie and a videoblog. You could probably call it a cinemablog.

First episode of the Nipwitz cinemablog takes you through the early 09-10 season.

How long is the ski season in Finland?
In the northern part of Finland the ski season starts usually in late October and lasts until June. But in the part where we live the season is couple of months shorter.

What’s a typical day of skiing like in Finland?
During mid-winter when we only get couple hours of daylight we have to go “night skiing” even though its daytime. Our local resort is only 2 miles away from the centrum of our hometown. So even in the evening if you feel like skiing a couple runs, you can just ride your bike there and go skiing. Our hills aren’t that big so you can lap the park for the whole day and easily get 50-100 runs during that time. Going to Sauna afterwards is also part of a successful ski day.

Where is the best place to ski in Finland?
The best place to ride park is Ruka ski resort, the best place to ride back country is Pyhä ski resort and the best place to ski urban is our capital Helsinki.

Episode 2 documents the cold yet snowy January 2010 in Finland.

Your crew’s style of skiing is different. Who or what inspires you?
We have been watching snowboarding and skateboarding movies a lot. Especially Think Thank movies. We have always wondered why nobody does that kind of stuff on skis. Lines Traveling Circus is also a big influence for us. A Finnish company called Flatlight films has been making snowboarding movies for many years and their work has proved me that Finland has a lot of possibilities to offer for filming. That inspires me a lot. Most of all we wanted to do the kind of stuff that we would like to watch ourselves.

In your third episode, the Nipwitz crew was skunked in Austria so you
returned home to hit more urban. Explain what happened on that trip.

Having no sponsors for Nipwitz we had money to do only one filming trip outside of Finland. Obviously we had big plans and hopes for the trip. The first day was ok but the rest 10 days were just horrible. It was either too windy, too warm, too foggy or all of those at the same time. It was very frustrating to spend our days watching movies from Oskari’s laptop. We realized that we were just wasting your time and money for waiting so we flew back home to do what we do best!

From Finland to Austria and back.

Are there any North American skiers you’d like to film with? If yes, who and why?
Will Wesson and Max Hill. They both have a creative approach to skiing and they both have smooth style.

In your last episode, you mention you were never kicked out of an urban
feature. Are there no cops in Finland or are they really that cool about
skiers hitting rails and wall rides in the cities?

Cops are usually pretty cool about skiing in the cities. If they show up they will only tell us to leave and suggest another spot. But this season the cops didnt show up once. One time this season, in Helsinki, we hit a ledge that was just next to one of the busiest streets in the city. We had a 4-hour session with lights and a generator and all of our equipment. During the session we saw maybe 7 police cars driving by. They were blind if they didnt notice us. Maybe they have more important things to do than chase skiers. After hitting an urban feature we always clean up the spot and shovel the snow away so people wouldn’t have a reason to call the cops.

The final episode follows the Nipwitz crew during April and May.

Are there any plans for a full length Nipwitz film?
We have plans to make a full length Nipwitz film for IF3. More about that later. I want to have a short break from editing.

Any shout outs?
I want to thank the whole Nipwitz crew for putting so much effort and love to this project. Huge thanks to all the viewers for motivating us to make each episode better than the one before. Big thanks to our families and all the people who helped us. Special thanks to our friend Janne Seppänen for writing a song for Nipwitz.