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Stories with Stone: Boat Jib in Finland with Brandon Davis

On the @girosnow Instagram account, we share a lot of gorgeous imagery of jaw-dropping mountains, perfectly styled tricks, and of course next season’s Giro helmet and goggle releases with fancy new technologies and colorways … But there’s so much more that goes into these shots that you would never know about with a milli-second view, quick double thumb tap, and a swipe. That’s why we teamed up with Ethan Stone Fortier (a.k.a E-Stone, a.k.a. Stone), to get a deeper sense of what actually happened at the time he captured his rich photos last season. And although it’s true that a picture can tell a thousand words, it’s also true that a thousand words can let your imagination take you to places you’ve never ridden, make you feel like you were right there making conversation with the pro athletes who are progressing the sport as we know it today, and give you a sense that the camera is right on you, too, waiting for you to drop in. So, drop in …

Words: Ethan Stone
Photos: Ethan Stone

I remember years ago seeing a memorable photo of Eero Ettala jibbing a boat out on frozen water with the city of Helsinki in the background. I always thought it would be cool to shoot a rider on a boat after seeing that shot, but it’s rare to get the opportunity. You don’t often find boats where you are snowboarding, and it’s even less likely you will find one that’s ok to snowboard on.

Last season the stars aligned. Brandon Davis, the Beta crew, and I found the ideal set up for a boat jib, and coincidentally it was just north of Helsinki in Finland where boats and snow are a common sight.

In late April when all the snow was melting in the U.S. and resorts were closing, the Beta crew scoured the globe for urban landscapes that were still holding snow so late in the season. After lots of time on the internet, we figured our best options would be northern Russia or flying to Helsinki and jumping in a car and driving north until we hit snow.

“Since Russia had recently
changed the rules …
Finland was a go.”

The crew all needed shots to wrap up their video parts and were very excited to do some snowboarding in another country. Since Russia had recently changed the rules on how long it took to get a visa, four weeks, Finland was a go.

Every member of the crew was at the tail end of their travel budgets but dug deep into their pockets to pull off one last trip for the season. We all met in Helsinki, packed in a rental van, and drove eight hours immediately after an even longer flight.

We woke up the next day in a nice Airbnb in Oulu, Finland and jumped in the car to scope out the small town. On trips like this, we don’t normally shred the first day. We want to scour every inch to see what all our options are for shooting, and then make a plan of attack.

After driving around for hours and marking down spots, the crew was over spot checking and eager to blow off some steam. It was 5:00 p.m. and the sun was still high in the sky like it was noon. Turns out, this time of the year the sun would be up from 7:30 a.m. in the morning to 10:00 p.m. at night.

We remembered a park we had found with tons of spots for everyone in the crew, and one of them looked to be a perfect boat-to-jib with a hill for a drop in and plenty of snow to make it work.

Brandon Davis teamed up with Gab Jacques from Quebec, Canada and quickly set up the feature. There was a boat pulled from the water and was just chilling in the park, about 30 feet from the ocean, held upright with wood blocks. It was like a sculpture. Luckily it was just left like that at the bottom of a hill so we could jib it! The railing on the side of the boat was perfect to ride on once we built a jump with enough pop to get the riders on top of this rather high feature.

“…the first attempts were
a little sketchy”

They bombed down the hill, and the first attempts were a little sketchy. It looked like they might not have enough pop to get onto the rail.

After some jump maintenance and some changes to the runway, Brandon gave it another go and got on the rail perfectly. The session was on! Brandon and Gab started to hit the rail, figuring out the best tricks for the setup. Both were killing it.

“Each time they landed,
the ice would crack a little…”

The run out after hitting the boat took you out onto a frozen river. You actually had to drop off a small four-foot wall after landing your trick and then land on the frozen river. Each time they landed, the ice would crack a little, and water would start to leak through the crack. After some time, the water started building up and they had to ride through a deep puddle.

They were having fun hitting the boat and getting close to their tricks, so they kept going getting soaked in the process, and they would sometimes slip out on the ice. Or they would land perfect, and the splash would fully soak them. It was the perfect session after all the traveling we did.

As they were riding, there was a moment in time when I thought back to that photo of Eero jibbing a boat in Finland and laughed to myself…

I knew it was going to be an insane two weeks.

Read more Stories with Stone:

A Day at Brighton with Brandon Davis and Gabe Ferguson