Personalities: Kareem El Rafie
Since surviving a bad car accident earlier this year, Swedish shred Kareem El Rafie is back and focused on filming and slashing pow. Kareem, who discovered snowboarding during a school field trip, has been through the ringer by ditching Forum last year hopping on Endeavor's roster. We caught up with Kareem in Whistler who candidly talked about why he quit Forum, coming up on the Swedish snowboard scene and what the future holds for him.
Kareem's 2010 Full Part:
You grew up in Sweden, but your mom is from Finland and your dad is from Egypt. How did you end up in Sweden?
Yeah, my parents met in Sweden. They where both traveling around and eventually settled there, so I was born and grew up in Stockholm.
Have you been able to visit Egypt?
Yeah, I have been going pretty much every year since I was a kid for the holidays; and for the past five years I've gone every summer for the production of my clothing company FL Clothing.
I'm going back in June, but it's going to be a bit crazier this time as things haven’t really cooled down too much after the revolution.
Are you primarily based out of Europe, or are you able to come to the States often?
Yeah I'm based out of Stockholm where I live, which is a dope city. Wintertime, when we have good snow, it's one of the best spots for handrails and urban riding. Helsinki is just an overnight ferry away and Oslo is a six hour drive.
Who is your crew that you ride with?
I guess it changes throughout the years depending on who I've filmed with, but I like to shred with the FL crew and with good friends that get me stoked like Halldor, Eman, Risto, R Bennyy Wetcher, Kale Stephens, Eiki, Jody W, Kevin Griffin and some childhood friends.
You got on the Endeavor team last year. How has it been different from Forum and why the change?
When I quit Forum the company had changed a lot and wasn’t the same as it used to be. I feel I did pretty good, but was only on the European team and wasn’t ever prioritized or given the full support from the U.S. It made it impossible to grow, film video parts and prove myself as a rider. Endeavor is sweet, as it’s a smaller constantly growing company where I can be apart of the company. I can give them my input and ideas on everything from board development to what the team should do, like how and where we want to ride and how we can best push the company.
How did you link up with the Endeavor guys?
Well, I spent some time in Whistler the past five years and I love it over there. I've been friends with Kevin Griffin who has been riding for them for a while. Then one day he hit me up and asked me to join the team; it seemed like a pretty sweet deal. I was stoked that it was a smaller company with more soul and rider driven and owned. I felt it was a company that I would be stoked on and a place I could grow as a rider.
Where have you been riding this season and who have you been filming with?
I've been riding mostly in Stockholm since we had a good winter as well as Helsinki. I got ran over pretty bad by a taxi at the end of January, which stole two months of my pow season. I finally made it up to Whistler and the powder season is far from done so I have been soul shredding every day.
This year we are gonna do an Endeavor team mix tape, which will be sick. I'll also have some stuff in the Helgason movie "Sexual Snowboarding” which will be dope.
Kareem and Risto`s private sexual snowboarding teaser:
It's crazy that you were ran over. What exactly happened?
I was in Austria and a cab backed into me, hit me to the ground and ran me over. I got squeezed under the cab with my whole body jammed on the side for like five minutes and couldn’t breathe. My homie had to get in the cab and drive back over me to get me out over my knees and legs. It was a really bad accident. It could have been way worse, but I got back to riding after two months. I tore the muscle in my knee and fractured my leg while bruised both knees. Crazy shizz.
Wow, you're extremly lucky. So, on a more positive note, what places/resorts inspired you to become pro while growing up.
My parents weren’t really into winter sports. My dad hadn't even seen snow before coming to Sweden. One day I went on a school day trip and got hooked on it right away. The bigger mountains are about six hours north of Stockholm, but there are some small garbage hills in Stockholm that are like 80 meters high, so I would just go there after school everyday and shred.
Growing up in the Swedish scene we really focused on pipe, but we didn’t have one to ride. I started watching old Mack Dawg movies like Simple Pleasures, Decade, The Resistance and True Life. Those movies got me really stoked on jibbing. Since Stockholm is full of rails we started hitting street rails pretty early. The parks didn't have any rails yet. My local hill is called Väsjöbacken and is about 70 meters high, but it has a jump and some rails so it's pretty fun.
How did you first start getting sponsored?
I was influenced by snowboarding movies from a pretty early age. That was what I wanted to do, and not really compete, so me and my homies would take turns filming each other. I edited this mix tape and got introduced to the Forum distributors through a friend. So I sent them the tape and they were stoked.
Who are some of your biggest influences in snowboarding?
Style and creativity was always what got me stoked, so people like MFM, Devun Walsh, Peter Linen and JP Walker were a huge influence. In later years: Halldor, Eman and Jake Blauvelt.
What are your hobbies when you're not snowboarding?
I like surfing a lot. When I get the chance to travel outside of snowboarding, seeing new places and meeting new people. I also put in a lot of time at FL clothing and the annual Frontline Rail Jam we host in Stockholm every year.
What's the next step for you? Where do you hope to take your snowboarding career?
Definitely more backcountry, powder and soul shredding. I've never had a season where I got the chance to fully film for a whole video part with both urban jibs and backcountry. I love jumping and riding natural terrain, but I just need to get it on film.
Sponsor shout outs: Endeavor Snowboards, Color Outerwear, Spy, 32 Boots, FL Clothing, Etnies, Airhole, Blue Tomato and Väsjöbacken.