The 2007 World Series Champion sits down for a chat with us before flying off to race in the World Championships this weekend. Read on to find out how the Swedish legend got into downhill skateboarding and his love for riding.
Hej Erik, where are you from?
Hej Gbemi, I’m from Stockholm, Sweden.
When did you start skating?
In 2003, a childhood friend had a Sector9 and let me ride it and also took me kite surfing.
How long after did you get yours?
That summer I met Dan Åhlström of Kahalani Boards and he assembled and made my first board, the Kahalani “kingofthehill” with Randal 180´s and 76mm Kryptonics.
What was it like?
It was really fun and quick good response. Low, fast and snappy flex.
Who is Dan?
Dan is the reason why I’m here, he took me under his wing, gave me my nickname the second time we met and changed my life. Dan is a board builder, designer, silversmith and a really good friend.
What’s the nickname he gave you?
Are you a parseltongue?
I am for some parts and moments, I come originally from snakeboarding and Dan was oddly fascinated by it. He wanted to have a try.
What stuff does he craft?
Jewelry, like fun looking necklaces, making coins into art pieces. He would sew mittens during winter when no one bought skateboards off him. I have a yellow bag he made and gave me 9 years ago and found it not long ago. Where did I put it…
Do you model his necklaces and bag?
I wear them with pride.
How long did you ride your initial set up for?
For a year. The year after, I had one of the first Evo’s to cross the Atlantic.
Were there many people skating in Stockholm then?
There was a scene for sure, the downhill crew was classic back then.
Who were you riding with?
The early days: Ankan, Spiken, Mike and Dan, Sandra, Erika, Brismo, Pata, Andreas. The highvalley crew. I was a lost soul out riding solo a lot as well.
Do you still skate with any of those people?
The scene back home has been going through some chapters, some have kids. Fredrik “Spiken” Lindström and I ride together and we are going to the World Champs in Calgary together this year.
How did things progress after your initial board purchase?
Dan and his brother Mike lent me a leather suit, they made me slidegloves and showed me downhill in southern Stockholm.
You went straight into skating down hills?
Yes, I raced the Swedish champs that summer, beautiful day. Spiken won, I didn’t advance.
What did you enjoy about going downhill?
A natural thrill, fun and competing. drifting, drafting, feeling.
When did you decide you wanted to compete?
Right away! As soon as I started riding. I didn’t figure out I was good until we raced in Northern Sweden in 2004 and the Roger Bros came over and showed us their tucks and tactics.
Who are the Roger Bros?
John and Dave Rogers from LA, the streetluge legends who also race standup really well. They have their own company making aluminum boards and street luges, I raced one of their boards in 2007 for a few races.
Why were they there?
Destiny, exploring Sweden. We had an IGSA National Race and they where keen to go. That race became World Cup standard the year after.
What impact did that meeting have on you?
Huge! They had NJK’s, Abec11 wheels, Vans, tucks, drafting tactics, cornering skills, nice style. They were great people that came out to share their stoke and knowledge.
How did you do in your first competitive season?
Roger Bros won the semis against me in Åre that year so I came 5th. I went to Norway a week after to film and explore some amazing hills over there. Then I raced Hot Heels in South Africa, I was on the starting line for the quarters as Lloyd McPherson had a crash and passed away later. The race was cancelled and we prayed for Lloyd. 2005 I was in New Zealand and didn’t compete. I came back in 2006 and raced my first complete season and ended up 2nd in the World Cup ranking.
That must have been really tough.
I look back in sorrow for LIoyd and his father who was right there with him. Much love has been brought to LIoyd throughout the years as during the World Cup in Capetown (which is the longest ongoing race at the circuit) we pray for him and enter “LIoyds left” each time we go down the course.
How has it affected your skating?
It’s a part of all of us now.
Have you skated Hot Heels since?
Went back 06 and 07.
Who else was in this movie?
The only one I remember is Alex Lyngaas. We met again in Voss this year, he teaches me life.
How does one get taught life?
Tricky one. Learning through experience, nature and nurture. Taking zones and chapters, creating what you become and do in your life, looking at the generations in the past present and the future to find roads and exploring different paths. Through mind and time.
Had you skated outside Stockholm before that?
Have you been any films since?
What is DROP?
DROP is a project by Marc McCrudden from LA giving races the Hollywood feel and standards on a mountain road called GMR.
In 2004 you raced all over the world. What did you enjoy most?
I didn’t race anything but Åre and South Africa, I broke my leg that summer and was out until the last race.
Ah shucks! How?
Was it hard to recover, physically and mentally?
Ah, it was alright I suppose, my ankle isn´t as flexible as it used to be.
You finished 2nd in your first full season, who was more surprised – you or the world?
My parents haha.
You expected to finish that high?
I had won my first race that Spring back at HighValley, and I carried the momentum to the Euro Champs in Insul and came 5th. 2nd Place in Åre World Cup, 6th at COASH World Champs. 1st place Nationals Capetown and 4th Place HotHeels. Fredrik beat me at semis and finals that year and deserved the win claiming the win at hotheels that year.
Had any Swede finished that high in the world rankings ever?
Well the races Fredrik Lindström went to he entered finals that year on. Olle Van Keppel did lead the rankings for Cape Town after solid performances all year but crashed in warmup run with fellow junior Jesper Edvinsson.
What was the highlight of the 2006 season?
I wish I could say Åre, but I was stuck in the hotel with fever all week. I just about found energy for the delayed final day.
What setup did you finish on in 2006?
Kahalani Snakeapolitan, Kahalani 204´s, Seismic speedvents into 07 eurotour and Calgary. Then a RogerBros for a while into a sector9 raceboard with GodessOfSpeed 76´s and Kahalani trucks.
How was the 2007 season?
Casual as well, raced in Europe for the major races and made my way over to North America for Paskapoo and Top Challenge.
How did you do at the end of the season?
Real good. I won TopChallenge and spent time with the S9 crew, with Budro and them boys.
What’s the difference between finishing first and being World Champion?
It´s the overall ranking through the year. Counting the 4 best results. Now it’s 5.
How did it feel?
It was a great accomplishment and created a good zone.
What did it take to finish on top of the pile?
A lot of fast Canadians to try to stay ahead of.
Did you have to do anything different that season to beat them?
It was my first clash with the Canadians, they raced North America and I raced Europe up till then. Kevin Reimer, Nate Lang, Nico Desmarais and I all in a pack before the finish line sweeper.
Were you the first Swede to get that number 1 ranking?
Actually 3rd or even 4th if Tom Edstrand counts, he´s half Swede half Canadian. Olle Van Keppel lead the rankings all the away to South Africa in December. Fredrik came 1st in the race and IGSA World Cup series champion.
How did life change for you after these 2 phenomenal years?
I moved to Southern California in 2009, then things changed gradually.
What made you move to SoCal?
Getting a taste of what it was like and the amazing location and its nature. Followed by Sector9 base and Jeff Budro taking care of things and making it happen.
Is California now home?
Second home, I live in Stockholm now and I’m planning on doing so for a while, will still be visiting California.
Since 2007, how have you spent your time between your 2 homes?
I spent three winters down in Costa Rica.
What is the skating like compared to Stockholm/Europe?
Always sunny in SoCal!
Have you done many of the North American races?
A buddy of mine Tye Donnelly organizes San Diego Downhill Racing League. They were kinda outlaw races. I entered the US nationals twice and got to the finals in both. I also did Danger Bay in 09.
How did the 2008 season go for you?
Pretty good, started with a win at Newtons Nations in Bathurst, Australia. Europe circuit went well too with two top 8 finishes. Maryhill that year was rad. Not my favourite course but it grows on you. Went to Teutonia that year and it got rained out, one drop from the top and that was our qualifying.
What’s been your favourite season since?
They all have their moments good moments, 07 was special.
How has this season gone for you so far?
Stoked on the season so far, first four comps of the season were all downhill skateboarding races and I’m not used to that. Laguna Seca, Catalina Islands, Moosehunt and Voss. Gaining momentum and stoke for rest of the year.
Which was your favourite?
They were all independent and amazing races. Voss in Norway was off the chain! Incredible mountain roads.
What makes skating in Norway special?
The roads combined with nature: all the forests and waterfalls.
Where will you be riding for the rest of the year?
Start off in Calgary this weekend and back home. Hopefully Spain and maybe even Portugal in September. I’ll see how it goes and stay open minded.
Are you looking forward to the World Champs?
Yeah for sure it’s been on my mind since pre-season.
It’s been 4 years since one of us won it, how do you think the Europeans chances of winning it back from the Canadians on their home turf?
It’s not gonna be easy bringing the win home from Calgary. If it’s there’s a headwind then the tuck will matter. Fredrik Lindström and Adam Persson will be up at the top.
What do you ride right now?
Sector9 Tiffany, Kahalani trucks, sector9 72mm 78a and Kahalani bearings.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Depends on where I’m at and what the conditions are like. I’ve spent a lot of time on my bicycle lately. Less time in the water.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-39.
12, 19, 30
12 – What’s your least favourite movie?
19- What is/was your favourite video game?
30 – In a Zombie apocalypse, what would be your weapon of choice?
Speed and peace, convince them to go back.
Any thank yous?
To the people out there exploring, go ride. Kahalani, Sector9 through all the years.
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