Oscar Tjärnberg is the Captain
of the New Swedish Tele Airforce. Well, that's what we call him. Basically,
he rips. We had the good fortune to catch up with the Captain at his
headquarters in Stockholm. Sweden that is.
Descender: When did
you start freeheeling? How'd you get into it?
Oscar Tjärnberg: Well, actually
I grew kinda tired of downhill skiing. I sort of stagnated in my
evolution and I felt I needed something new. At the time I was working
in a sport store at a Swedish ski resort where I could use rental
equip for free. What a rush, that's the way skiing is supposed to
feel. That was 1992, and I've been on tele's ever since, skiing
roughly 150 days a year.
D: What's up with the tele scene
in Sweden and Europe? How's the European tele scene different than
Oscar: There are a lot of excellent
telemark skiers in Scandinavia, go figure, since this is the home
of freeheeling. But I still think we are less than 5 percent of
all skiers. Keep in mind that almost everybody skis over here, so
it's quite a bunch anyway. Europe, on the other hand, doesn't produce
so many telemarkers, there is only a small core of hard hitting
skiers in Austria, Switzerland and France. Randonee is, by far,
the number one choice.
Oscar: Telemark and skiing in Scandinavia
have diverted into two styles. One fast, hard, high jumping, doing
snowboard tricks. The other, classic, staying in the grooms, hiking
distant powder areas, touring. Both are fun in there own way, but
I prefer the previous.
Oscar: How's the European scene
different? Aren't all US telemarker pot smoking hobos, more or less?
Nah, I don't really know. All the telemarkers in North America that
I have met are really good guys, good skiers too. Maybe not that
radical, since all they've experienced is powder. Over here we are
born on blue ice and take any chance we get to huck off anything
that resembles a cliff.
D: What kind of beer do you bring
to the party? Who's the band?
Oscar: Beer!!! My favorite. I'd
like to gulp a Carlsberg, or Norrlands Guld, or Snake River Lager.
Love the Guinness. Hell, I'll drink anything that's yellow with
bubbles in it, I'll even drink cheap Miller High Life if that's
what they serve. Right now I'd really like to see Eve 6 or Everclear
on the stage. I wish you could set that up for me when I come over
to the States in the spring. Man, it's been a long time since I
went to a good concert.
D: When we come to Sweden can we
stay at your place? Will you introduce us to the Swedish tele groupies
we hear so much about?
Oscar: Sure you can stay at my place.
Nopraw. I share a 225 sq. ft apartment with my girlfriend. Rather
tiny but my hospitality is huge. There is no skiing in Stockholm
worth the name though, we'll have to go to the alps for that, but
you should come here just because of the women. I'll make sure to
introduce you around when you get over.
D: Where is skiing taking you? What's
next in your skill progression?
Oscar: Right now I'm all about recovering.
I got a femur (thigh bone) fracture during a photo session in Chamonix,
last spring. Four steel pins and stiff knee, that what you get.
The way back is long and hard. I have as a goal to be able to do
that back flip in a mute grab position, that the guys in the Canadian
Air Force do so nicely, before the winter is over. And I probably
will too. Ever heard the expression: If you reach for the stars
D: Have you ever heard of Oliver
Oscar: Ooh, now that's a laid back
fella. He's a rude dude! Actually, no, I have not. Sorry. Who's
he? (see Descender interview this issue)
D: We hear those guys that made
Free Radicals live in van down by the river. Do you ever visit them?
Ever ski with Erik Mossfeldt?
Oscar: They keep changing the address,
haven't seen them for a while. I think they've been all busy making
the new FR 3. I hear it's gonna be even better than the last one.
Oscar: Erik got in first place in
Sweden's biggest ski magazine's ranking list of Sweden's top 30
skiers, the telemark class. I only came in fourth place, so I wouldn't
really ski With Erik even if we managed to set up a date. I'd have
to ski faster than Erik if we met. No, seriously, even though the
Swed top telemarkers are a tight group, both me and Erik have quite
busy schedules and have never managed to cross tracks with each
other. I will state for a fact though, that I have skied with both
Mikael af Ekenstam and Janne Wiklund, who any day in a week skis
my ass off, and humbly regard them as my friends. (Mikael won the
Scandinavian freeskiing championship, telemark class, in Riksgränsen
this year. Janne came in third.)
D: If you could have the ultimate
killer day, what would you do?
Oscar: Hmm, win a shit load of money,
fall in love, ski my brains out in powder. But not necessarily in
D: Last year was huge in the Northwest.
Mt Baker had over 1000 inches. It's supposed to be bigger this year.
Any plans to visit?
Oscar: Hell yeah, any hill getting
1000 inches is worth looking into. I'll be over in the States late
March and would love to come ride with you guys. Mark your calendars
and make some reservations. I take it I'll have the guided tour?
D: Oh yeah, you'll get the tour.
Along with some fine Pacific Northwest beer. But you're on your
own with those front flips, OK?
D: Did you ask for the SkyHoy binding
for Christmas? What would you like to see in tele gear?
Oscar: Can't say that I have. I
am a sucker for the Riva Classic binding. No changes have ever made
it better than the original one. I heard that the Super Loop should
be something worth looking in to, with that lifetime warranty and
all, but I like to put trust in the thrust and be able to lock the
foot down firmly. It never kicks out unwanted or unexpected either.
Simple and reliable. Got to love it. Show me something that works
better and I'll change.
Oscar: I only want what we all want.
Step in bindings. Super glide, lifetime wax free base. Stiffer,
more durable skis, that can take a good mogul run without being
all crooked up. True fog free lenses. Avalanche detectors and complimentary
ski passes for all telemarkers. Nothing out of the ordinary, pretty
basic stuff really.
D: What do you make of the new freeskiing
Oscar: I think it's getting kind
of forced up. We've got to keep focused on what it's really about.
Skiing. Nothing more, nothing less. These trends and words they
come and go. A decade a go it was Freestyle and before that it was
Hot Doggers. Now it's freeskiing. If that is skiing limitlessly
with a open mind and loose heel, I'm all for that. But isn't that
what we've always done? It doesn't really matter how you do it,
or what you call it, as long as you have fun out there.
Thanks Oscar. Yes it's true we only
ski powder here in the states. The snow is regulated and being the
U.S. we only ski the best conditions. Especially in the upper Midwest.
The Descender staff could only come up with tickets for the ABBA
reunion tour, hopefully Oscar will appreciate that. And about the
yellow liquid with bubbles. We produce that around the clock so
we'll start saving up.
Erik Mossfeldt is a Swedish tele
skier that rips it up in Free Radicals 1 and 2, Swedish ski flicks
that are pretty sweet.
And yes we are all pot smoking tele
hobos. Keep it quiet.
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