PHOTOS & TEXT
The projector shuts down at the Bio Rex theater in Helsinki. A documentary about Eero Ettala’s career has just ended. The man of the hour walks down the stairs onto the stage to take the applause.
Ettala is standing there in front of everyone and enjoying the feeling. He grabs the mic and the audience gets quiet. "For the past 90 minutes I just wanted to pee on the audience from the top row because of all the beers I drank before!"
Sounds weird but that is one of the reasons why he was there in front of everyone, and not someone else. He is a natural performer who really knows how to break the ice with his weird sense of humor.
Eero lived his youth in Espoo. His dad gave him a ride to local ski resort Vihti almost every day during winters. Years went by and he had to do a decision about his future. Eero’s parents always said that whatever you do, school is something you have to finish first. All the other snowboarders moved to the US, because their sponsors said it is the right thing to do. Eero decided not to follow them, and moved 10 kilometers away to Helsinki. He knew that he was going to shoot mostly urban snowboarding and Finland would be a paradise for that. Eero’s sponsors respected his Finnish attitude and didn’t push him to do something he felt wasn’t right.
Eero filmed his first full part for Strait Jacket films, ‘Road to Madness’ movie in 2002. ‘Ender’ is the 13th full part in a row and his last even though he has been filming the whole winter, again. Those thirteen full parts didn’t come for free. His knees have been operated six times and yet another one might be on its way. Even though he feels like a grandpa waking up in the morning his snowboarding is still as clean as always.
The snowboarding world has changed a lot during his career. The golden years of snowboarding, when he filmed for Mack Dawg, was something that the new generation can only dream of. Snowboarders were like rock stars. Everything was possible and companies spent ridiculous amounts of money to get the best riders in their teams. In those days it was possible to say no to a deal bigger than today's pro's whole season budgets.
Eero filmed four Mack Dawg movies and those parts have been an inspiration for many new generation riders. He did the first double backside rodeo 1080 in the movie ‘Follow Me Around’. That was a game changer and one of the most memorable moments in his filming career.
Mack Dawg was the biggest movie production of the decade. If you got a full part in one of his movies you were on the top of the game. During the last years, people got fed up working their asses off for Mack Dawg without a proper credit. The crew tried to work out something new without him, but it didn’t work out. Suddenly there were sixteen riders without a project. That was the start for a new era of snowboard filming. All the riders started their own projects. Eero got his own TV show called ‘Tracking with Eero’. It was a success and he continued with his own projects.
After the TV show he started to film ‘Cooking With Gas’ webisodes, with two of his best friends Heikki Sorsa and Lauri Heiskari. It was kind of a dream come true moment for Eero to be able to shoot a project with just his homies. Cooking With Gas was like a school reunion for the old dogs and it lasted for three whole seasons. During the last season, Heikki and Lauri kind of lost the hype for snowboarding. Heikki got children and Lauri wanted to concentrate more to his future. Eero felt like he still had something to give to snowboarding.
Ender was the first 100% own project for Eero. A documentary about the man himself. Being able to express himself just the way he wanted. When Eero was filming the Cooking With Gas project, he was always also listening to what the other riders wanted to do. It was sometimes really frustrating for Eero to try to please everyone. Now, he was finally free as a bird and ready to film his last part.
He invited two youngsters Toni Kerkelä and Antti Jussila to film with him. Eero wanted to have some fresh blood for the crew and make sure Ender would be something new. When producing Cooking With Gas, Eero was often stressing about the production as a whole. Ender was produced and filmed by Pablo films, which made it possible for Eero to focus all his energy into snowboarding.
Eero’s future is open, but the fact that he really is a showman ought to open some new doors for him. He filmed his last snowboarding full part but that doesn’t seem to mean anything. He won’t stop snowboarding and skateboarding until he really can’t get up from the bed and bend his knees. In 2015 he attended a charity cycling competition in France which raised over 200 000 euros for a childen’s cancer foundation. Future will show us what is the life of Eero Ettala after snowboarding.