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March 17, 2011

Eero Ettala. Expect the unexpected.

“The best feeling comes from an unexpected moment on the slope.” So says Eero Ettala, arguably one of the world’s top freestyle snowboarders and power-riding poster boy for the Nokia N8. But it turns out he’s totally lying.

Eero Ettala in Nokia N8 campaign guise. The caption says “unexpected”, but is there more to it than that?

Eero’s been in front of the lens and behind the lens for almost 15 years, winning slopestyle gold and starring in freestyle titles such as Euro Gap and Double Decade. So he knows a lot about the technical bits of snow and shooting freestyle video.

He says; “I was learning about lenses and light balance from back when we were kids filming our own movies. It’s about visualizing where the actual trick is gonna look the best, where the rail or jump looks the longest or biggest.” Eero is ready.

Check out Eero’s best bits on Tracking Eero, a globe-spanning TV series showcasing Eero’s aerial skills and a 360° awesomeness that knows no fear.

And freestyle filming requires planning. Eero spends the off season scouting next winter’s locations: a hard-looking hand rail or “gnarly” staircase. [if you’re a stranger to snow lingo, gnarly means eye-bulgingly scary]. When he spots the next sheer drop to slide off he snaps it on his N8.

Good buddy Lauri enters stage left to perform a wall-to-wall indy grab underneath North Helsinki’s finest flyover. Shot on Eero’s N8.

One of the big behind-the-scenes secrets of freestyle film showmanship reveals a lot preparation. Riders get towed into their trick by a giant winch which will wind up and whip them around at over 60 to 70 kilometres an hour, from a standing start! Check Lauri’s entrance above.

Riders build their reputation shoot by shoot, documenting each death-defying stunt. Eero says; “You set something up to get the best results, to make it look as clean and professional as possible.” Great technique is no good if nobody sees it and the battle to be the-best-of-the-best takes place on YouTube, not the handrail. Spontaneity is for amateurs.

The Nosturi Ledge. A legendary location for today’s heroes and the stars of tomorrow. Check out the infamous staircase at the 60 second mark of Eero’s performance in Picture this.

Each winter, freestylers try to outdo what’s been done before. “If I go to a spot that I’ve seen someone else hit before, I definitely wanna do a better trick than he did”, Eero tells us. Rookie riders seeking stardom can get the jump on the competition by filming their own silky skills at a famous spot.

In freestyle, you’re not going to get to the top on talent alone. Shooting and sharing skills are key and shots are well worked out in advance. Nothing is left to chance. Eero bigs up his bad boarding self at and at Snowextreme, a freestyle quarterly that carries his own photo journal.

Sumo Snowboarding. Eero’s fat buddy Fredu in a still published in Snowextreme. Shooting, colour correction, cropping, and brightness levels all courtesy of the Nokia N8.

When we catch up with him, Eero’s taking time out after popping his knee (not once but twice, sports fans). But of course, he’s already anticipating next season back on the board.