Meet Jesper Tjäder: one of the world's most creative freeskiers
From international slopestyle podiums to viral ski edits and world records, Jesper Tjäder is the Swedish phenomenon that's taking skiing out of its comfort zone.
Jesper Tjäder is a professional skier who doesn't want to be confined by what’s already been done. Instead, he's striving to go beyond what most of us think is possible. Renowned for his state-of-the-art and inventive ski edits, Tjäder has never stopped pushing his limits to new realms of possibility.
A decade into his professional freeskiing career, the 28-year-old continues to surprise with mind-boggling tricks and combinations. On top of that, his competitive spirit still burns bright and he keeps scoring big international podiums, showing that he can both create and compete.
But how did his journey begin and where does his insatiable desire to learn new tricks come from? Keep reading to find out more about the creative genius that is Jesper Tjäder.
From humble beginnings to professional skier
Born and raised in Östersund – an hour away from Åre, the top skiing destination in Sweden – Tjäder put on a pair of skis at an early age. He quickly adapted to wearing them and soon fell in love with the creativity and adrenaline rush that came with the sport.
There were always plenty of big features to hit and athletes to be inspired by on the slopes of Åre. His home mountain and its people created the love Tjäder feels towards the sport. He explains: “I think the ski culture up here in Jämtland made me good at skiing.”
Skiing and filming his exploits have always gone hand in hand for Tjäder, who started making his own videos early on and uploading them to websites. This continuous capturing of his progression and latest tricks would be the starting point of his career.
“The Swedish ski website freeride.se was super important to me, maybe my love for videoing what I did started there," he says.
First of all, getting a call from Jon Olsson was insane. Then getting to do a filming session with him, with a helicopter, hitting the biggest jump I’ve ever sent, let alone seen
Tjäder's big break came when he was still a teenager. Swedish freeskiing legend Jon Olsson found one of his videos on YouTube which contained the dub-12 trick, one that few people could perform – never mind a person so young. A phone call from Olsson duly came and the two got together to jam and shoot a clip.
“It was mental," recalls Tjäder. "First of all, getting a call from Jon Olsson was insane. Then getting to do a filming session with him, with a helicopter, hitting the biggest jump I’ve ever sent, let alone seen.”
After the video was released, everything changed. ”I was thrown into the professional side of freeskiing and got my first sponsors, from there everything went super fast."
Breaking the internet
From one day jibbing at his local hill to next being invited to international slopestyle, Tjäder quickly made a name for himself with his creative tricks and drive to push the limits of freeskiing. And awards soon racked up. In 2011 he was named IF3 Rookie of the Year and the Best Rail Skier of the Year, then in 2012 he claimed the Park Shredder of the Year Award. Two years late he placed third overall in the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup and became European Freeski Open Champion.
2015 was another big year for the Swede, with his exploits gaining him huge attention. At the Nine Knights freeskiing event, Tjäder decided to send a huge gap between two courses – a gap that even the most experienced skiers thought was impossible to land.
But Tjäder lined it up, turned on his GoPro and went for it. Three times in a row he cleared the massive double, throwing in a huge backflip on the last go because… well, why not? The footage went viral and cemented Tjäder’s name at the top of freeskiing.
Jesper has this strange ability to do completely bonkers stuff on skis. He slides around and likes coming up with these strange tricks
As if breaking the internet once wasn’t enough, a couple of months later Tjäder followed it up by dropping Unrailistic. Taken straight from his own bonkers imagination, he made a playground of never-before-seen rails come to life. The edit mixed technical tricks on traditional park obstacles with completely original features, such as a trampoline and a trapeze swing.
Jesper Tjader's Unrailistic edit
Watch Jesper Tjäder redefine what's possible on rails in this mind-blowing ski edit.
Jesper’s famous notebook (and tricks)
Tjäder’s main strength has always been his ability to think outside the box. His part in the Supervention edit back in 2013 was a glimpse of what his creative mind and skills could do, but after the release of Unrailistic in late 2015 there was no more doubt - this was a skier putting progression at the forefront. Over the following years, Tjäder continued the push the boundaries as he released more unforgettable edits.
Jesper Tjäder's Loop
Freestyle skier Jesper Tjäder got the idea of building a trick loop and then he, along with Aksel Lund Svindal and Marcus Kleveland, made it a reality. Watch as Tjäder tests and perfects the loop.
There's the loop rail from Supervention 2 in 2017, the body slide to spin out in Unrailistic 2.0 released in 2019 and the fire loop in his Japanese Game Show edit from 2020. All the above are jam-packed with features and tricks, most of them taking more than 100 attempts. What seems like a crazy amount for some is the thing that makes it so exciting for the Swede.
“The most fun thing about video projects is the opportunity to do features and tricks you’d never be able to do in a competition run," says Tjäder. "You never know how long a trick is gonna take to land – sometimes they are pretty quick and sometimes they take days. But once you finally get it it’s a crazy feeling. And it’s that feeling that makes you push that little bit extra.”
Constantly creating, it seems Tjäder has a unique mind. But how does he keep coming up with these ideas? To answer this question, all you have to do is take a peek inside one of his many notebooks. Even from an early age, he would keep a notebook on him so that whenever an idea popped into his head he could sketch it out. These scribbles are then turned into reality in his videos. The crazy rail combinations in Unrailistic 1 and 2, the weird but wonderful Japanese Game show shapes – it’s all in these notebooks.
Unveiling Unrailistic to the crowds
In 2021, Tjäder decided it was time to welcome the professional world of freeskiing into his mind. He hosted The Unrailistic Invitational in Åre, where he invited some of his friends – who happened to be some of the very best skiers and snowboarders in the world – to come and try out the features he used in his edits.
His fellow pros recognise that Tjäder is something special. Olsson, the freeskier that recognised his talent early on, sums it up perfectly: "Jesper has this strange ability to do completely bonkers stuff on skis. He slides around and likes coming up with these strange tricks. I think it’s given him control over his skiing that most competition skiers don’t get in the same way."
This year, Tjäder is once again inviting the crème de la crème of the freeski world to Åre for Red Bull Unrailistic. On April 26-27, athletes will compete on a course that will be a celebration of innovation, imagination and creativity. Find out more about Red Bull Unrailistic and how to attend here.
Sliding along, breaking world records
In 2022, Tjäder decided to take his rail expertise to the next level and do something completely new. He decided to break the Guinness World Record for the longest rail grind on skis. Did he do it? Of course he did, and it only took 127 attempts. That final attempt saw Tjäder slide along the rail for an impressive 154.49m and reach a top speed of 77kph.
The world’s longest rail
Watch Olympic freeski medallist Jesper Tjäder set a new world record by completing the world’s longest rail.
When it comes to Tjäder and his skiing, one thing’s for sure: he never stops learning. There's always more skiing to be done, more tricks to learn and more creativity to unleash. Whether he’s performing in big competitions, breaking the internet with an edit or creating a fun tree run at home, he'll always push his limits.
So we'll be expecting the unexpected from Tjäder when Red Bull Unrailistic 2023 gets under way.