Nikolai Schirmer

Age: 27

Hometown: Tromsø, Norway

Occupation: Filmmaker

As a self-taught skier and filmmaker, Nikolai Schirmer thought that making a living in the ski industry was impossible—until it became his reality.

Growing up in a Norwegian town 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, snow was abundant, but his skiing was rather, well, Nordic. Schirmer's first experience with the sport was behind the local church descending a tiny slope on cross-country skis.

Since then, he has exchanged his Nordic roots for powder boards, filming and skiing in places like Chamonix, British Columbia, and Alaska. Armed with a camera, Schirmer looks for the balance between getting the perfect shot and scoring the best line.

"It's messed up when it's a powder day and you're not enjoying it because you're so stressed about getting the shot," he says.

Creating films hasn't always been Schirmer's calling though, as he only picked it up after sustaining a knee injury in 2012—the same time he was getting his master's in copyright law.

Nikolai Schirmer. PHOTO: Guy Fattal

Earliest ski memory:

Every Easter, we would take the train up to an abandoned railroad station near the border of Sweden. We would build little jumps and the whole family would go and hit them on our cross-country skis.

First pair of skis:
They were orange Blizzards. They were awesome. My friends were very impressed with their sidecut.

What I wanted to be when I was 10: 
I wanted to be an airline pilot and own a big boat.

First job:
Cell phone salesman.

How I learned to edit:

YouTube mostly. Surfing was my first love before skiing. I felt like surfing was always one step ahead of skiing in terms of content. I would watch skate and surf videos and I saw them making these short documentaries on people and thought, 'I should do this with skiing.'

Advice for aspiring young filmers:

Always deliver and always finish. Even if you think your project is shitty, you have to keep moving. The next one will be better.

Living the dream or still hustling?

I've been grinding for years. Last winter was the first winter that I came out of not broke, which was amazing.

On my bucket-list: 
I want my next video project to matter to people. I want people to watch it and care about it. I want to reach a million views on my next video, too.

What sets me apart:

My law degree.

Best thing about skiing powder:

I love the way you can go as fast as you want and stop easily. That feeling of control in a potentially dangerous situation is special.

This story originally appeared in the November 2018 (47.3) issue of POWDER. To have great stories like this delivered right to your door, in print, subscribe here.