Photography is the most accessible and intelligible language of snowboarding, understood not only by those who ride but also those who don’t, but should. It’s not only a catalyst for progression but also a record of how snowboarding has progressed: It can teach and inspire, as well as set benchmarks to which all can aspire, both in photography and riding.
Each week Danny Burrows asks a pro photographer to choose a shot from their archives and divulge its worth of a thousand words.
I must admit to being a little in awe of Markku Koski, who you can see here making a front nine look as simple and stylish as a 1. As a man he humble and reserved by nature yet vociferous in his riding. If his name were an entry in a dictionary of snowboarding the first line of the definition would include the words “all-time”, “all-round” and “stylish”.
His career has spanned all facets of snowboarding, from pipe, to street and backcountry to park. Better known as a contest rider in his formative years – not surprisingly with bronze in the 2006 Winter Olympic pipe, gold at the 2009 FIS World Champs and X Games bronze, to name but a few of the accolades in his brimming trophy cabinet - he later developed into a prolific maestro of movie parts, filming with the Pirates (you have to check out his part in Bottom Line), Standard and Euro Gap (Euro Gap 3 is a must watch). Each of his parts is so diverse and brimming with style that if it were a food it would be five course and five star; you don’t get much better than Markku, when it comes to the art of shreddery.
Anyway, enough of the eulogizing. I put a few questions to Markku, who this week is sending it at the Onboard SendOff session, in Kitzsteinhorn, about last season’s Onboard kicker, what he shapes he likes to spin off and where he thinks the limits of kicker riding lie.
What was the booter at last year’s SendOff Session like and how was it to ride?
It was kind of a different kind of jump to hit than I’m used to. The jump profile was more of a drop down with a poppy take of. The distance wasn’t too big but there was lots of airtime. You kind of felt like you were falling out of the sky, so you need a steep landing for this kind of jumps.
What in your opinion is the perfect shape for a kicker?
I like hitting jumps that are more of a "box-type", up and down arc and poppy but not with that much distance. Maybe with around a 2-meter higher takeoff compared to the where the landing starts. And there always needs to be enough flat before where the takeoff starts so you don’t get compression.
Do you think riders will reach a limit in the size of kickers that they can hit?
Yeah, I think when people start doing four flips we’ll be at the limit. Triples you can still do on like regular 15 to 20-metre poppy jumps but when the jumps start to be 30-metres and poppy and people throw quadruples I think we have reached the limit. Even now riders have to be in a good shape to take the falls but if we go much further every rider who bails will get injured. Obviously I hope we will not get to this but there’s always someone who’ll be willing to push the limits.
How do you approach a new kicker? Taking speed etc?
It comes with experience. Somehow you just look at the jump and the pop and feel how fast you have to go. Take few speed checks and just roll next to the jump. The longer the in-run, the harder it is. Normally I overshoot if I have to go first, haha. But if it’s a long landing I always try to take a little too much speed and not pop at all so I don’t fall from too high. It’s been working OK so far. And I always straight air first, unless it’s a backcoutry kicker. No point to get hurt on a first try.
Camera: Nikon D3
Lens: Nikon 80-200 2.8
Rider: Markku Koski
Trick: Front 9 Indy
Location: Kitzsteinhorn, Austria
Photographer: Danny Burrows