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Henrik Harlaut: The Salute Interview

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Two years has gone by since Henrik Harlaut’s last movie, and you know what that means: it’s high time for another earth-shaking drop from E-Dollo.

 

Today the wait is finally over: Salute is now available on video on demand! To mark this momentous occasion, we caught up with Henrik to get the scoop on his new masterpiece, where he’s at mentally, and what’s next on his to-do list.

 

Interview: Ethan Stone

 

Hey Henrik! What’s your current obsession? A video game, a food, maybe a TV show?

HH: Skiing, if I’m allowed to answer that! Everything still revolves around skiing. Preparing for snow, visualizing, dreaming—just thinking a lot about skiing right now. I wish I had a more unexpected answer, but that’s it.

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Photo: Josh Bishop

I guess I could have predicted that Answer. Salute is your third straight two-year movie project. What makes this one different for you?

I think the production in general, working together with both BUG Visionaries and Stept Studios from the very beginning. The first two-year project (BE Inspired) was together with Phil (Casabon) and (Eric) Iberg, and we were basically completely on our own. For the the last movie, The Regiment, we got post-production help from Stept Studios, and on this one they were involved from the beginning. That’s a big change, having a lot more people involved: directors, editors, producers.

 

It must have been sick to have legendary street skiers like Cam Riley and Clayton Vila behind the cameras, and even hitting features with you.

For sure, it was a dream come true even just to have them around. And to see them session some spots as well, and getting the vibe of the OG Stept squad, was definitely unreal.

“A movie or an edit that’s well put together can last much longer—it doesn’t really have an expiration date.”

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Henrik and Clayton Vila in Minnesota. Photo: Josh Bishop

Speaking of the Stept vibe, I noticed there were more backcountry shots than urban shots in the Salute trailer. Do you find yourself tending more towards the BC than the streets these days?

Naw, I definitely love street still. Last year I did Real Ski, and we didn’t want to re-use the shots from Real Ski for the trailer. This year, we just didn’t have as much luck with snow conditions in the streets as we did out in the mountains. But we did have a nice urban trip to Minnesota around Christmas and New Year’s that was really successful. To get back to your question, I’m not necessarily trying to go either way. But like I was saying, I had more luck with snow conditions in the backcountry than the streets, so it naturally just went that way for the movie.

 

In today’s world you might reach more viewers if you just pushed all of your footage out to Instagram the week after you filmed it. But you’re still a diehard fan of the classic ski-movie format. Why?

As a superfan, I think it’s more powerful like that. Of course, I enjoy little Instagram videos and stuff like that, but for me that only lives for two three days, or a week if it’s really good. Something like a movie, or an edit that’s well put together on YouTube, can last much longer—it doesn’t really have an expiration date. When people make movies or a well thought-out edit, there’s more thinking in general behind the project than a clip that you throw on Instagram.

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Stacking shots in Jackson Hole. Photo: Daniel Rönnbäck

Will you stick with the 2-year format in the future?

No, this coming year I plan to not have any big movie project in mind, mainly because I just want to ski a lot and progress my skiing. When going from contest to contest and filming and all this, it’s for sure possible to progress; but it’s easy also to just get on a rhythm where you “do what you can do, and do it the best that you can.” I want to have free time to work on whatever my weaknesses are and ski a lot in general—just spend a lot of time on my skis, try to progress and have a lot of fun. If there’s some snow in the city where I’m at then I’ll hit street spots, and if it snows and I’m in places where you can do backcountry skiing, I would love to do that as well. Without any pressure, although there’s never really any pressure—well, I guess I kind of put that pressure on myself. But I don’t want to feel like I have to come out with something that’s super powerful and meaningful to me. I really want to focus on perfecting my skiing.

 

It must get tiring to go from contest to filming to contest all season long.

I mean, I really love it—it doesn’t make me burn out or anything. But that’s what I’ve been doing for a lot of years now, and I’ve been waiting for one season to just focus on my riding. It feels perfect right now, after three two-year projects. But I’ll for sure still put together my favorite shots and do a season edit at the end of the year, and I’m also planning to do a few YouTube things as well. Maybe a bit more thought out, not just thrown together—like a trip edit or something with a cool idea. I definitely have a few things in mind I want to do, but the main focus is going to be to ski. To get good.

 

Wow, Henrik Harlaut wants to get good. I wonder what he was before?
Not good enough!

“I’ve been waiting for one season to just focus on my riding. It feels perfect right now”

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Switch 12s don't come much smoother than this. Sequence: Sofia Sjöberg

BE Inspired was just you and Phil, and The Regiment was only you. It looks like you took a more crew-oriented approach for Salute. Who are some of the other skiers we can look forward to in the movie?

I hadn’t shot much with other people besides Phil and Tanner (Hall), and for The Regiment they had their own projects and released their own shots, so it became just me in that movie. Especially when I went to the premiere, I really missed having the whole crew vibe, because I love that about ski movies—when it’s a squad that gets together for a project. So already from the beginning, I knew that for this project I wanted it to not only be me, even if the main focus is kind of following me around.

 

The idea was that I have so many friends, idols and skiers that I really look up to who I’ve never really gotten to film with for different reasons. It was super sick to get together with Jacob Wester during the first year of filming. He was one of my first influences who I idolized a lot growing up, and still now, but we’d never filmed together. His brother Oscar was also along for a few days. I’ve also always had a really good vibe with Øystein Bråten during contests, and was excited to see what he was like outside of the competitions. He joined for one trip to Chamonix last year, and then came to Sweden. We were definitely channeling the energy back and forth; that was super sick.

 

Some of the OG stept crew, Clayton Vila and Cam Riley, came out and joined me on the Minnesota trip. It was a dream come true for me to have a Stept movie, and I was telling them that it can’t be a Stept movie if there’s no original Stept rider in it! They were all hyped on that. Isaac Simhon, EZ Panda, was with me for some urban in Andorra, and he made it out to Minnesota as well.

 

Chris Logan was the same kind of scenario. I shot with him his first year with Level 1, but then me and Phil took our own path, and he kept shooting with Level 1 and then The Big Picture. Now, ten years later basically, we still had a super good relationship, and getting back out filming in the backcountry together was a real treat. C-Lo is awesome, so energetic and positive! Karl Fostvedt joined us as well for those BC trips. I’d never filmed before with him either, but he’s been an inspiration of mine too. So it was basically a full new crew of homies to film with, but all people who I’ve had good relationships with before. It’s wicked.

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Henrik with Karl Fostvedt and Chris Logan in Mt. Baker. Photo: Daniel Rönnbäck

It’s awesome to see all these guys in one movie together. Did the pandemic get in the way of finishing the movie?

It definitely threw us a big curveball. We had plans to be in British Columbia for all of March and April, and had dreams of maybe even doing some heli things or some bigger mountain things. Me and Stoug, my filmer, had just made it over to Canada right when the pandemic kicked in, and then we were chilling basically inside for a month and a half in British Columbia. It wasn’t too bad because we were in Revelstoke and the restrictions weren’t too heavy. We were still allowed to be outside and didn’t have to be on full lockdown. On the first of May we went back to Sweden, got together with some friends in our old military tent, and went up to northern Sweden to Riksgränsen, and stayed isolated. It was a big treat, just being outside touring around. It was definitely crazy and had a big impact, but it was cool that we were able to do what we did during that crazy time.

 

We also had plans to do a big park shoot—everyone that had been filming for the project, as well as the whole Stept squad, was going to come out for a big celebration to finish off the movie. It was supposed to happen in Andorra, and their whole park crew was super hyped for it. That was a big bummer, not to be able to do that one. And we had plans to go back to Mt. Hood and do a bunch of shooting there. So unfortunately there were some things that didn’t happen. But luckily within my friends and family, nobody got hit too bad by corona, so I give thanks for that.

“I’m not trying to beat anyone else, I’m just trying to see how far I can push it.”

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Milking the late hours of Arctic light in Riksgränsen. Photo: Sofia Sjöberg

 

 

You beat tanner Hall’s record For the most X Games medals this year. was that a big moment for you?
Yeah, it was for sure. Like, crazy! It’s pretty unbelievable still. I idolized and looked up to Tanner so much growing up. It was crazy to watch him winning back to back, and unreal how many medals he had. So for me to reach that level, and even surpass it, is pretty unbelievable.

 

Did you hear from Tanner afterwards?

Yeah, he called me up right after and we had a good talk. I told him that I was never trying to beat him, my goal is just to get as good as I can at skiing. He’s been my biggest inspiration and I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I’m at without him. For sure it’s my goal to get as many medals as possible, but my goal isn’t to beat Tanner’s record. That’s something I wanted to make clear: I’m not trying to beat anyone else, I’m just trying to see how far I can push it.

 

What do you think of the new x games judging format?

I have mixed feelings about it. I think it’s cool because it can show more variety and more than just one big air trick or one slopestyle run. It really shows who is on point. But I also think it can be confusing when you don’t have scores. Even as a rider during the process, just to not really know: if you’re in fourth place, how far am I from the third guy, or how far is it up to first place? Is there a big gap there, or am I closer to fifth, sixth, seventh place? There’s a lot more confusion and uncertainty. That part I don’t really like, even as a spectator. I wasn’t in the slopestyle final, so I got to watch and be a spectator for that one. I was a little confused. A score can help out with knowing things. I like in the World Cups where they go section by section. They score each feature, so you know—it’s more clear why the judging is how it is. Already it’s so hard to judge. But when there’s not even a score, then it’s an even bigger question mark.

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Henrik put on a master class during the X Games Knuckle Huck. Photo: Gabriel Christus/ESPN Images

This Winter is the qualifying year for the 2022 Olympics. You got another go in you?

Definitely! In my body and mentally, I haven’t seen any symptoms of slowing down yet. I feel as motivated and hyped up about skiing in general, and competing and all, that it only gets more and more clear that this is really my passion and something I love so much. So I definitely want to try to be a part of it for one, or maybe two more (Olympics). Right now I don’t feel that my level of skiing or my ability is any slower or worse than it’s been before. With age you have to take care of your body more, but everything I do is to better my skiing. Everything I eat, everything I train, is basically to feel as good as I can while I’m skiing. And I feel really good right now.

 

Are you still a vegetarian? How does your diet work out on the road?
Yes, I am! Yeah, you definitely have to think and plan a bit more ahead. But I feel like its easier and easier with veggie food, and more options as time goes on. For me it was pretty easy already from the beginning because I never really liked meat, except processed stuff like burgers and hot dogs. But steak and stuff, I always tried to learn to like it until I decided I was just going to eat vegetarian. Then everything got easier. But I definitely have to be more conscious and plan ahead a bit when traveling: going to the store beforehand, or booking the meals on the plane in advance. They have so many options these days—you can get vegan, without milk, without gluten… so that’s really fortunate.

 

“Everything I eat, everything I train, is basically to feel as good as I can while I’m skiing. And I feel really good right now.”

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To hit a gap like this, you're gonna need to eat your vitamins. Photo: Daniel Rönnbäck

Phil Casabon once said that you’re on a stage where everyone is a straight arrow, and you’re a zig-zag kind of dude. What do you think contest skiing would look like if you weren’t around?

Other people are better to judge that than me, I think. I don’t know. Hopefully there would be a place for that crazy guy who would still be more odd. I would pray for that. I think that’s the coolest part about our sport, and what made me fall in love with it at first. As a kid I was doing a lot of alpine racing, hockey, soccer and all these traditional sports. But what got me was the freedom and the ill lifestyle of freeskiing. That was way sicker than any other sport. So I try to always keep that as much alive as possible, and I hope people can see that and be inspired by that, and bring it for the next generation.

 

You’ve said you hate racism, politics and war, so you don’t pay attention to them. You’re also a big fan of hip-hop and Black culture. What do you think of the black lives matter movement?

I think it’s nice that it’s there right now to raise awareness for the people who have ignored it. Social media is a powerful tool for that these days. It’s crazy that that stuff is going on in the world these days. For me it feels so crazy—I don’t even understand the concept of being racist, of basically judging a book by its cover. I don’t understand that way of thinking. So I definitely support it, and I think it’s good that it’s coming out, and that it’s loud and clear these days.

 

In the regiment you said, “for myself, im not even close to where I want to get to.” that was in 2018. do you feel like you’re any closer now?

No (laughs). Maybe closer. I’d like to think I’m still walking up the stairs. But I’m not close to the final point or the peak. I’m still just skinning at the bottom.

 

Any final thoughts?
As always, I’m super super thankful for all the opportunities, all the support and love that fans, family, companies, organizers, events, yourself… that everybody is giving me. I’m very honored and appreciative of it all. I feel like I’m the most fortunate guy ever, so I give thanks.

“I’m not close to the final point or the peak. I’m still just skinning at the bottom.”

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Photo: Daniel Rönnbäck

Henrik Harlaut’s 2020 film Salute, produced by BUG Visionaries and Stept Studios, is available on YouTube, Apple TV, Vimeo, Amazon and other platforms. Watch it now!

By:

November 10, 2020


2020 ski movies, Henrik Harlaut, Interview

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