Couple of days ago I received probably the wildest or weirdest Christmas card (or should I say XXXMas card) ever. K2 Backside Team rider Skipe Oivo sent us a portrait of himself, showing off almost naked, wearing only skis and boots. “All right, here we go again”, I thought. It was the best Christmas card ever. Seriously. A ton of fun.
Skipe has no limits, and I am totally cool with that. Imagine if we all were frickin’ boring engineers stuck in our offices (yeah, I am one of those) and never make fun of ourselves. This would be a dead boring world.
Photographer Mikko Lampinen
It’s a pity I don’t get to ski with guys like Skipe too often. I spent many seasons in Chamonix with a bunch of great ski bums, but nowadays I mostly ski with my kids. I’m pretty OK with my decisions, but I gotta say it is so nice to meet my old buddies once a year at the SkiExpo exhibition in Finland. This year we had no time to enjoy a beer with Skipe because he was so damn busy with promotions, but I had a chace to chat with him for a while. Thank God we still have wild guys like Skipe!
14 questions to Skipe Oivo
#1 Homeboy: Dude, how do you spend you summers and winters?
Skipe: Well, I spend my summers at work, mostly in constructions sites. You know, I gotta make some money before winter. I also have lots of injuries, I mean A LOT, so summers are also great time to get better. I don’t travel much during summers because I have my support network (doctors, etc.) in my hometown. Guys like Martti Lakovaara and Risto Ojala have operated me many times, so I rather let them put myself be back in shape instead of traveling around.
2# Homeboy: You know, we have lots of talented and skillful skiers and snowboarders here in Finland. I mean people like Kalle Palander, Tanja Poutiainen, Janne Lahtela, Jarkko Henttonen, and now also Skipe Oivo. How come this kind of world class skiers and riders can come from almost totally flat country like Finland?
Skipe: First of all I should not be even mentioned in the same sentence with these professional athletes, because they are world class and they have done a lot of work to reach their merits, and I am just a hippie skier. I admire them and see them as icons, but I became what I am because I have been damn active and I have always had my burning desire. I would never compare myself with these athletes and their level of expertise.
Photographer Petri Kovalainen, Location Courmayer, Italy
3# Homeboy: Back in the good ol’ 90’s we enjoyed “pocket warm vodka” in northern ski resorts. I remember bartenders dedicating you your own bottle with label “Skipe” under the bar desk. Every time I placed my order I said “two vodkas, one for me and one for Skipe”. Your vodka came always from the dedicated bottle under the desk, because other bottles were stored in fridge. You still enjoy that stuff?
Skipe: Hehe.. I remember that. Nowadays I prefer Pastis, which is good and cheap. I am no professional athlete or role model, and I do everything with a smile in my face, so I really enjoy toasting drinks some times, especially in good company. I love social lifestyle.
4# Homeboy: Man, I know this a stupid question, but I must ask you this one because you are such a “soul rider”. What is the meaning of life?
Skipe: Go sleep with no worries and wake up with a smile in your face. You can’t always make it, but good buddies help a lot.
5# Homeboy: Well said. May be I should try that. Tell me what else you do in addition to skiing?
Skipe: I love fishing, it’s so great. I also ride a mountain bike, but mainly in Finland. It is actually a very good treatment for my knee injuries. Sometimes I go rock climbing, but the latest thing I have discovered is scuba diving. I can’t say much about it because I have just started, but so far it feels very nice.
6# Homeboy: Only few months ago you signed a deal with K2. Tell us how you ended up riding in K2 Backside Team and how it all happened?
Skipe: Well, I guess the reason why I was picked up is related to my skiing style. I am no educated man, but I have +30 years of experience in active skiing, that is something K2 sees valuable. They take care of my needs and make sure I keep on skiing. They also take into account my lifestyle, and won’t push me to races. I respect that. All in all it is an honor to ski with K2, and I respect our co-operation.
7# Homeboy: Getting the very first sponsor is hard as we know. What would you like to say young dudes looking for their first sponsor?
Skipe: Ski as much as you can. You will be noticed when you are ready, so no need to hunt sponsors. Your skills talk more than any “personal sales pitch”. Anyhow, you can introduce yourself to sponsor candidates, but before that make sure you are a helluva good skier.
Photographer Petri Kovalainen, Location Lyngen, Norway
8# Homeboy: I recently did an interview with Seth Morrison, who is known from sticking double backflips from 60 feet cliffs. What do you think about Seth boy?
Skipe: I love his style. Seth is always so confident which makes his style so great. No matter how high he drops he always lands like a cat. I admire Seth’s ability to utilize different shapes of mountain faces in order to stick totally unexpected flips.
9# Homeboy: Last season you did few turns in Chamonix with the legendary Glen Plake. What kind of dude is this “godfather of freeskiing”?
Skipe: Glen is a helluva nice guy! I really respect his passion, attitude and dedication to the sport, and it is an honor to meet him in person. Glen probably makes good money skiing, but I bet he would do it for free too. He is confident and familiar on all terrain. You can see him ski the same runs with narrow skis while others survive with fat skis.
Talking about ski gear, I see many youngsters complaining in Internet discussion forums that less than 100 mm wide skis don’t work in powder. Come on! Guess what we did 15 years ago? Ski doesn’t make you a good skier, but your attitude and desire. Older generation seems to be technically more confident, so may be younger skiers should ski narrow skis every now and then.
I have also seen guys skiing big mountains with back protection and full face helmets, but without any sense. I am no “Edmund Hillary” but I know my limits and my skills. I believe I’m still alive and kicking because I’ve known when it’s better for me back off.
What I want to say is that proceed step by step. Ski for yourself and don’t take risks only to show off. Be patient.
10# Homeboy: Good points. Are we gonna see you in Chamonix this year?
Skipe: Sure. My flight is scheduled on December 30th, and I will stay until the end of April. I might also join a bunch of guys traveling to Svalbard, but I am not sure yet. Anyhow, I will continue the season in Lyngen right after Chamonix.
11# Homeboy: Are we going to see you skiing 8000 meters mountains just like Fredrik Ericsson?
Skipe: Never! I’ve never been interested in skiing such hard mountains. Why would I ski 8000 meter high mountains while I can get better feelings on 3000 meter mountains? I have no need to take additional risks, so I’m heading to 3000 meters in “good ol’ Chamonix”.
12# Homeboy: You have several skis. Tell us about your “tools”.
Skipe: I use K2 Hellbent (189) in powder, K2 Dark Side (188) in couloirs, K2 SideStash when ski touring and K2 ObSeth (189) and Kung Fujas as all round ski.
Photographer Mikko Lampinen
13# Homeboy: You work much with Finnish ski photographers. Who are your favorite camera men?
Skipe: Mikko Lampinen is like my “royal” photographer. He has shot tons of pictures of me. I also enjoy working with Petri Kovalainen. Working with Tero Repo is an honor, because the dude is a real pro. Co-operation with Tero is so seamless. Days in the mountains go well and we get results.
14# Homeboy: Thanks Skipe for this chat! Before we quit, could you list three words that best describe Skipe Oivo?
Skipe: happy, eternal little boy, inexperienced (there’s still so much to experience out there).
Skipe Oivo according to ski photographer Petri Kovalainen
“I met Skipe in the middle of 1990s when he lived half a season in travel trailer in Lapland, but then flew to Chamonix. Skipe is a true rebel. He is 43 but still in flames every time snow starts falling. He is more experienced than 99% of skiers, but still willing to reach the next level in skiing. Skiing with Skipe is a lot of fun. For years he has been an important evangelist of freeskiing in Finland. Respect!”
In 3 bullets Skipe (according to Petri Kovalainen):
- is a cornerstone of Finnish freeskiing
- is Stefa (Skipe’s well known alter ego who becomes alive after few drinks)
- has spent more time being operated or on surgery bed than random dude on snow
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