*Originally published in our Vol. 13 February issue. Words & photos by Shay Williams
There are two things you should know about Elias Ambühl. First, don’t let the Swiss roots fool you, he’s an energetic, outgoing, fun loving guy. Second, he’s the new King of Big Air. Beginning last year, young Ambühl exploded onto the big air scene. He’s been on 7 of the last 10 big air podiums [ed. note: including 5 big air podiums in 2010/11]. He comfortably sits in first on the AFP big air list. Red Bull and Yniq have come knocking for his talents. But despite all the podiums and accolades, to him, having fun is all the success he needs.
Where did you get your start? Did you race?
Nope, I started alpine skiing but after a while I followed my brother into freeskiing. That was the best choice of my life! There are several people that inspired me but my older brother Andri had the biggest influence on me.
Elias Ambühl at Winter X 15 Big Air.
You’re the first big park skier to come out of Switzerland since Mikael. How’s the scene in the heart of the Alps?
It’s getting bigger and bigger. I’m happy to contribute to the freeski movement in central Europe. There is a lot of talent and I’m sure we will see a lot of pros in future from the heart of the Alps. For pipe, we have the best two athletes but I’m sure in the future we’re gonna have some big names in big air and slopestyle as well!
You’re laid back and relaxed for a Swiss guy. How did you turn out so normal in such an uptight place?
[laughs] Well, that’s the image you guys have but it’s not like that. I should probably show you around sometime to get to know the actual Switzerland!
How have you been so consistent the last two years?
Well, I really enjoy the atmosphere during big air events. The crowd is really close and I’m always having a blast when they go mad crazy. Stadium big airs are just a lot of fun!
And how was the feeling at X Games last year?
Surreal. I never would have imagined winning a medal at X Games.
How do you describe yourself to all the kids out there who don’t know you?
A friendly, funny and outgoing person who loves to ski! I love skiing but without the great parties it would not be the same!