The Norwegian freeskiers spend so much time in parks that they've never been big mountain skiing. So, ahead of X Games Norway, they joined freeride legend Stian Hagen on a ski touring mission.
Øystein Bråten has a fantastic season to look back on. This winter he secured two new X Games medals and he topped it all off with a slopestyle gold medal in PyeongChang this February. In order to recharge batteries and get ready for the season finale with X Games Norway in May, Øystein and fellow Norwegian freeskier Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen decided to test something new: big mountain freeriding.
”After a long competition season with a lot of travelling, I just want to get out and have some fun skiing. I get a lot of inspiration and motivation from doing other things than riding park and competitions. This trip is different from the trips I usually go on, this is my first time going big mountain skiing and I’m really look forward to testing it,” Øystein explains.
“I'm here mostly to learn and to have fun on skis, finding a sense of achievement, using the nature as a playground and learning from Stian. He's extremely skilled in this type of skiing, so it's fun to learn from someone that good,” says Tiril.
Watch Øystein and Tiril shred big mountains in the video below:
Freeride legend as mentor
The duo could not have asked for a better mentor and ski touring teacher than freeride legend Stian Hagen. The 43-year-old Norwegian has a long and successful freeride career behind him, including Freeride World Tour participation and starring in several ski films.
“For me it has been important to carry on my experiences and what I have learned from a long life in the mountains, and hopefully give them a good foundation to build on if they want to spend more time on this type of skiing. It has been fun to see how fast they have adapted to a whole new type of skiing, they are really good skiers. They have a body control and balance that is out of this world, so it just took them 2-3 runs to really master it,” says Stian.
That was sick!
Øystein, Tiril and Stian stayed a whole week up in the Jotunheimen mountains, a top destination for ski touring. During the week, Stian taught Øystein and Tiril all they needed to know about snow profile testing, ski touring security and avalanche search and rescue, in addition to going on several trips to the many peaks surrounding the Leirvassbu cabin where they stayed.
”Leirvassbu is without a doubt my favourite winter destination for skiing in Norway. You get on skis right outside the cabin, and you are surrounded by mountains all around. It's one of the places I always want to come back to. You just need to hike a couple of hundred meters in any direction and you will find good skiing. It has been super exciting to bring Øystein and Tiril up here, bringing them into an environment they have never experienced before,” Stian explains.
Both Øystein and Tiril really got bit by the big mountain freeriding bug, and were really fascinated by the options Norway has to offer outside the ski resorts.
It's an amazing feeling, I didn't even know Norway had sick mountains like these
“What's so cool about this place is that it is in the middle of nowhere. Usually, on a day in a resort, you have to get up early in the morning just to get maybe a few runs with untouched powder. But here you have access to the sickest mountains within walking distance. That is the coolest part, you can ride untouched powder wherever you see,” says Øystein.