In 2018 Lucas Stal-Madison became possibly the first pro skier—and definitely the first pro new-waver—to land not just a car sponsor, but an electric car sponsor. Now patrolling the roads of Sweden in his custom-wrapped, 100% electric Nissan Leaf, LSM is on a mission to find not just new ways of skiing and filming, but doing all of the above in a more sustainable manner.
His new “Contemporary ski video,” created together with Per Peyben Hägglund, is a first attempt at just that. In their own words, it’s “innovative skiing mixed with creative filming and sustainable traveling.” Intrigued, we hit up LSM to find out more.
What’s up LSM? Where are you right now?
I’m in Stockholm, Sweden, the capital of Scandinavia! I’m walking around downtown, about to get an international driver’s license for Japan. After that I’m heading up north for Christmas and New Year’s with my family.
Always important to remember that! It sucks to show up in Japan without one, and then realize you need it to rent a car.
That happened the last time. Anttu [Oikkonen] was the only one with an international driver’s license, so he ended up driving for the whole trip.
Tell us about your “contemporary ski video.”
So, it’s basically a new way to film ski movies, in the sense that you’re also taking into account what environmental impact a ski video has. Before, when you were making a video it was like: who are we going to film with, how will we make the video, where are we going, who will film it, etc. Now, when me and my friends are making a video, we’re also thinking about things like: Are we really gonna fly there? Can we take a train? If we fly, can we compensate for the carbon from the flight? If we’re gonna drive, can we drive electric? It’s another level to the whole movie-making aspect. The electric cars are really new, and there’s a lot of discussion about what’s possible and what isn’t. In particular, a longer trip is something that a lot of people think doesn’t work with an electric car. We had no idea either—this trip was the first time I was driving an electric car, ever. So it’s totally a first-time experience. We wanted to see if it works.
So the concept is to film skiing in a more sustainable manner?
We wanted to make a really cool video, something that we’re really proud of. Peyben and I are always talking about video ideas, and had a lot of stuff that we wanted to do. You can see in the video that there’s a new perspective on the filming and on the skiing. The new perspective is the thing that’s different: new skiing, new filming, and the third element is the sustainability behind it.
How did the electric road trip work out?
It was a learning process. Like with any car, the faster you drive, the more inefficient the vehicle is. At first we didn’t have any idea of how to drive the electric car, or where to find the charging station. We didn’t even really know how you charge. First you need an app to find the charging station. Then you know that you can get from this city to that city, charge there, and get to the next spot.
You learn how to plan the trip, which is key if you’re driving electric. You look how far it is you’re going, and you look at where the charging stations are along the route, and then you pick charging stations that are best for your range. Some charging stations are just like a boring gas station where there’s nothing to do, and some are located in more fun spots. We started coming up with things to do while charging. We did a lot of juggling with a football.
How long does it take to charge?
About 45 minutes with a Supercharger.
That’s pretty fast! How’s the charging network in Sweden?
The first part of our trip was from Stockholk to Ramundberget, which was a pretty easy route. The network is already pretty good in that area. As soon as you get farther norther, which is where we went on the second part, we got into some trouble because as soon as you don’t have a Supercharger, you’re looking at six to eight hours to charge up.
LSM has joined the exclusive club of people who drive cars with their pictures on the side. Photo: Ethan Stone
Did you ever run out of battery on the road?
No. but we were pretty close one time.
Are you the first pro skier to get sponsored with an electric car?
I’m not sure, but I think so. I think one guy is doing something in the States. But yeah, pretty much, yes. Hopefully it’s just the start of a lot of people. Some guys in Sweden have been asking me about getting one, so others want to get on the program. Skiing is one of many things being directly effected by climate change. Maybe skiers haven’t been before, but now they’re getting really interested in more sustainable ways of doing things.
It sounds like there’s a of effort and energy that goes into planning a sustainable ski trip.
Sustainability is such a complex issue, you definitely have to think more about it. For me and Per and our, crew, that’s not a problem. That’s the fun part: really having a conversation about how to do something in a more creative and sustainable way. How can we move better? Let’s bring our Thermos and reusable water bottles. Let’s have that conversation.
When I look on Instagram and see athletes posting about Protect Our Winters and climate change, there’s always someone in the comments saying something like, “Dude, you fly internationally every month.” Do more climate activists need to practice what they preach?
That’s a really tough and complex question. It’s hard for me to say what other people should or shouldn’t do. And I mean, I flew to Japan last year, I’ll fly to Japan again this year. I don’t necessarily think that it’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing. I think that everyone needs to try to do what they can, use their influence, and change what they can right now. Some people have to fly to certain places because it’s their job. I think it’s good that people like pro skiers talk about climate change but maybe they could add more talk about their own carbon footprint. I understand that people get upset because it’s such a loaded subject. Only talking and no action feels weak as well. Sustainability is a very big subject and we need to talk and learn more about it.
It’s this question of individual versus systemic change, right? In the bigger picture, our own personal lifestyle choices don’t make a big impact, because it’s the systems—of energy, economy, transportation and so on—that have to change. But at the same time, all of us collectively and our lifestyles make up the system that’s currently operating, and if all of us change, so does the system.
A person who’s having trouble making a change of their flight pattern can make a change with sustainable food. Maybe someone can talk about sustainable clothing, but they’re still eating meat every day. There’s a lot of different things that need to change. If you can do something, then you should do it—regardless of whether it’s really good, or just kind of good, or barely good. It’s hard to say what’s right or wrong.
What sustainability tips would you give someone reading this interview?
The whole world has to change and become more energy efficient. We need to have a circular economy, all companies need to change how they do things so they can survive. Countries need to do this, everyone needs to do it. So why not start right now? Why not get a head start, and be in the forefront and know what’s going on? If you don’t do it now, you’ll have to change later. So I would think about it like that. Understand that everything is going to change, and make a choice whether you want to be in the forefront of this change, or falling behind later. You can start with some websites—it’s not hard to find information these days. Try to eat more vegetables, travel more efficiently, and think about which changes work for you. You don’t have to be an activist living in the forest with zero impact. You can make change where you are.
Looking at the latest climate reports, it’s difficult not to get depressed. Do you ever feel that?
Yes, I do. I go back and forth. Sometimes it’s like, “God damn it, everything is over.” Then I read some positive news about something going on, and I’m like, “We got this!” That’s a really important topic. I’m exploring that right now, and I don’t have the answer. For me personally, I 100-percent believe that we will have a super-modern society where everything is circular, everything is designed to be reused, everything is recycled. Products will be made not only to look good, but in a way that takes their end life into consideration. I’m confident that this future is coming.
What are your plans for this winter?
Pretty loose plans at this point. Not really too much, actually. Maybe making some webisodes, and I’m also going on some powder trips with Skiman and filming with level 1 in Japan.
Is there gonna be another Bunch movie anytime soon?
No idea. No comment.