Jon Olsson

Q&A: Freeskiing legend Jon Olsson dishes on his career, fast cars and Douchebags

Q&A: Freeskiing legend Jon Olsson dishes on his career, fast cars and Douchebags

The following words have been provided by FREESKIER contributor Colin Levitch.

Whether you like him or not, Jon Olsson is a legend in skiing. As the innovator of tricks like the Kangaroo Flip, the DJ Flip and the Hexoflip, Olsson is responsible in-part for where competition freeskiing is today.

Following a bet with World Cup racer Jens Byggmark, Olsson decided to try his hand at ski racing in an effort to make the Swedish Olympic team in time for Sochi, but was derailed by a major knee injury.

Now, a couple of years and a surgery later, he’s back to freeskiing. Even at age thirty-three, Olsson is still chasing big jumps and sunsets shoots. I got the chance to catch up with Olsson after a day of training atop Stubai’s Prime Park Sessions setup to see what the Swede has been up to and what’s on tap for the coming winter.

Jon Olsson

Photo by Colin Levitch

The Q&A…

CL: What’s your plan for the season and what ski projects have you been working on?

JO: I’m still trying to figure that out. I’ve had such a hectic year of working—it’s almost all been with Douchebags (the bag company) and that takes up a lot of my time these days.

I haven’t had the time to really sit down and set a plan for the winter, basically I’m at Stubai now just trying to ski as much as I can and get confident again.

Last year, I was really just trying to get back on skis again after my injury, and this year it’s more of a blank sheet of paper. Most of my winter will probably be travel and social media based; I think because I have such a big channel, it makes the most sense to put most of my effort there.

I would love to do a movie part because it’s so sick to have them, but I don’t know if it’s the smartest thing for me. It was easier ten years ago when the goal was X Games and I didn’t really have to think about why I was skiing.

Blue skies and perfect spring conditions! @stubaizoo is all time! ????????????

A photo posted by Jon Olsson (@jonolsson1) on

How are things at Douchebags going?

It’s grown amazingly fast. We are now up to nine-and-a-half employees, if I count myself as a half employee [laughs]. In the last year we’ve gone from four to nine employees, and I think we’ll be pushing out around 50,000 bags this year.

Since the knee injury you’ve taken your time to working back up to big jumps and big tricks, how is your knee holding up?

The knee is holding up well, and it’s 100-­percent when I’m not skiing, but it turns out that there’s a reason no one is hitting the park past 30­ years ­old—it’s pretty tough on your body. I have to be careful about skiing too long, and icy landings really hurt.

Before your knee trouble your goal was to make the Swedish Alpine Olympic team in time for the Sochi Olympics. Are there any regrets about not sticking to freeskiing and being a shoe-­in for the Olympic team?

No, not at all. I mean, I competed for so many years and I had a lot of goals. Once I achieved all of those goals I didn’t really have the motivation like I did when I was younger. So, for me, starting at the bottom in ski racing, it was the same feeling as when I started freeskiing. You know, “I wanna get there, and get to the top.” So, no. No regrets at all.

I had a great time ski racing, and it was interesting to see that side of skiing. Being able to show that I can compete on a World Cup level as well as in X Games, that’s something I’m really proud of.

What made you decide to come back to freeskiing?

When I did my knee I was still planning on racing. But I woke up one morning after surgery, and the only thought I had was, “I want to hit jumps again.” I was like, “no no no,” and I tried to push the thought away because I was fully focused on racing. But, the thought kept coming back because I wanted to get back in the air, and then I told myself, “alright, I’ll wait four months and see how I feel then.”

After four months, I didn’t dream of red and blue gates, I dreamt of kickers and sunsets. So I said, “alright, if that’s what my brain tells me I want to do, then let’s do it.”

You’re a bit older now, do you think your age plays a role in the way you ski in the park?

I think mentally going from twenty-three to thirty-three­ years ­old is huge, and it’s a whole different ball game. Coming into these jumps is petrifying, and when you’re young you don’t realize it, but when you’re a bit older you look at things differently. But, once you leave the lip and get that feeling when you’re in the air, it’s that much more exciting.

Now, if you would put a billion dollars cash in front of me, I’d never hit Chad’s Gap switch. Back in the day I would to do it just to get a cool photo, and now there is nothing in the world that would make me do those things.

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There’s a rumor that JOI [Jon Olsson Invitational] will not be back this year, are there any plans to the 2016 event?

No, there are no plans for this year. I guess the possibilities of social media marketing have enabled companies to expose their brand, and they can reach more people in a cheaper way. That’s actually hurting a lot of events, and I can’t complain because I understand the strategy behind it—but it’s made it harder for us to find the financing for the event.

I did the JOI event for eleven ­years, and this will be the first spring in eleven years where I am free and I can go ski for me, instead of booking lodging, banners and other things for an event. I’ll miss it for sure, but I will also probably enjoy being free to ski and enjoy the spring rather than being stressed during March and April.

About a month back your recently sold Audi RS6 DTM was stolen and and burned to the ground in quite a spectacular fashion, were you sad to see it go like that?

It was stolen and then burned down, so there was actually no crash involved. It was two armed men that stole the car, and later we found it burned out. I always get a bit sad when my special cars are not mine anymore, but the whole thing was just a strange ordeal.


A photo posted by Jon Olsson (@jonolsson1) on

What’s your next car project going to be possibly another RS6?

There are a lot of plans, but nothing is decided yet, we might go down a little different route. You know I have done Gumball for a couple years now, and we have a couple new projects we are looking at, but nothing is final. I’m flying up to Sweden to try to nail down so I can start building and setting plans.

Related: Cody Townsend gives a behind the scenes perspective on Salomon Freeski TV’s Eclipse

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