Things I’ve Learned: Henrik Windstedt

Things I’ve Learned: Henrik Windstedt

Henrik Windstedt, Former World Freeride Champion, Big Mountain Badass, Swede

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p. Marcel Lämmerhirt / Red Bull Content Pool

I've been skiing my whole life and by skiing every day you pretty much get good at it. And when you get good at something, you most likely want to aim for the top…

…and I didn’t have any other plans.

We have long seasons [in Sweden] and almost every conditions you could think of, all the time. Plus Sweden has always been at the forefront of skiing, so it's a pretty big market compared to the size of the population. And that creates opportunities to get sponsored and get you out in the ski world. 

I wanted to be the best. At first I was all about alpine racing, all my friends did it and we had a really good ski club. When I was around 12, I started to ski moguls and it led me closer to the newschool scene which eventually brought me to where I am today.

My parents never pushed me into skiing or pushed me while [I was] skiing. They have been super suportive through the years. My dad was also a coach in the ski club and he taught me some basics, I guess, but it has always been about having fun.

I grew up in a small, quiet place, so it's always nice to come back and feel mentally at peace. 

When I was competing in slopestyle I was 100-percent afraid of not doing well in the contest but when I compete in big mountain I’m 60-percent afraid of not doing well and 40-percent afraid of actually getting severely injured. There are more consequenses in big mountain.

Skiing down in the debris after the huge avalanche that took Xavier de le Rue… That was the first and only real deal avalanche and I hope I never experience that ever again.

That thing was so big and had caused so much damage to the nature that I thought for sure that we are going to find him dead, if we were going to find him at all.

Of course, but I do everything I can to minimize the risks. But you know, people die from the smallest accident on the hill, so for me it’s more about bad luck then putting myself in too much risk every time I ski.

 Things I've Learned

Me, for sure! [Cody] just won that because he’s American. He has never beaten me in a contest. [laughs] [ed. note: in reference to who would win a skiing showdown]

It was my biggest achievement [ed. note: winning the FWT in '08] to date and also my comback season after almost a two year long injury. It was not just nice to win but also so good to feel that I'm back on top, skiing-wise. I still didn't have any back up plan for my life at that time, skiing was the only thing I could think of.

I was happy to finish top three last year but it was still so far from the feeling of being the World Champion.

There is a big reward of doing well in a contest and that’s the main reason why I’m doing them. You spend so many hours preparing for one single run so it feels so good of knowing that you did better then everyone else. Filming is harder work during a longer time but it could be the best feeling after knowing that you killed it on a two-week trip.

This year I was struggling with a broken rib which still hurts and keeps me from riding at my top level.

 Henrik Windstedt

l: Japan p. Mattias Fredriksson / Red Bull Content Pool 

I had a short comeback mogul session in the fall of 2005 when I tried to qualify for the Olympics. But instead of doing so I got a broken disc in my back which put me on the couch for almost one year. During that time people were doing doubles and the level of skiing went up more than one notch. I also came to realize that I wasn’t the youngest rider anymore. And my passion for actually skiing got stronger, too. I wanted to ski more powder and bigger lines and with the start up of Freeride World Tour, that opportunity came. I decided to give it a go and here I am, four years later having the time of my life.

I’ve kept the stoke up during my career. I like to ski and take on new challenges so that have kept me motivated to become the best in what I do.

I was actually doing quite a bit of cross country when I was training to come back form the back injury. But not classic, it’s all about skating now. No wax needed and it’s faster. 

Everyone who makes me stoked on skiing. Could be a local guy back home or the most gangsta jibber and everyone in-between.

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Shred as much as possible in any condition with friends who will keep your stoke up. Try also to ski with older and better and more experienced riders, that worked well for me. I always wanted to prove that I could ride like my older friends.

It’s hard to say. Most ski media, especially websites, are targeting younger kids that looks up to jibbers and it’s easier to do a small web edit from a park or an urban mission rather then doing a big mountain edit every week. But I think that magazine covers, photo issues and most ski movies shows more “real skiing” then jib stuff.

What [Travis] has done is amazing and I think a lot of us in the action sport business got an eye opener of what's possible to do in the backcountry.

Yeah, what is all that about? Try to search for “stupid americans” on youtube and you might get a small idea of why. [laughs] [ed. note: on why American's can't tell the difference between Swedes and Norwegians]

Henrik's full athlete extra edit from MSP's The Way I See It.

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