“There’s Always Next Season” — a return to snowboarding’s Norwegian roots

Roy Olsen | Switch Method | P: Daniel Mikkelsen Roy Olsen | Switch Method | P: Daniel Mikkelsen

There is something very powerful in returning to your roots. In 1997, a group of snowboarders from Tromsø, Norway, began filming a snowboard movie. For reasons not entirely clear, the movie was never finished.

The title, “1997 FOREVER,” is seemingly prophetic, as now, 17 years later, the same group of now 30-somethings have reunited to finish what they once started. Then, members of one of the most progressive scenes in snowboarding’s young history; now, a crew of men getting back on-board and breathing life back into the passion that once dominated their lives.

Now three years into the re-make, the road to reviving “1997 FOREVER” — the new film is titled “There’s Always Next Season,” — has been a rough one, both mentally and physically. Though some in the group continued to progress their snowboarding, many walked away and began lives fully separated from riding; to learn new tricks, to tackle intimidating lines is a very different experience at 15 than it is at 31. With zero funding, the crew jumped head first into their project, seeking out the destinations they had once dreamed of filming at to fully revive their lost teenage reveries.

Take a look through the eyes of director Carl Christian Lein Størmer at just what it means to bring an old dream back to life.

The original crew, L-R: Carl Christian Lein Størmer, Stian Skjærvik, Vegard Schefller and Stian Tapani Gundersen, with Erling Floer surveying the scene from above The original crew, L-R: Carl Christian Lein Størmer, Stian Skjærvik, Vegard Schefller and Stian Tapani Gundersen, with Erling Floer surveying the scene from above

How were you first introduced to snowboarding?
Even coming from a very “mainstream” upbringing, doing the same sports everyone else was doing, I tended to radiate towards the “underground” at an early point… so when I discovered there was a snow/skateboard scene in my town that was my way in. Or out, either way. I begged my parents to buy me a board for Christmas, and thank god they did. The next day I quit whatever I was doing before… there was just no turning back. The whole world as I knew it changed instantly.

How does the public’s opinion of snowboarding compare to 1997?
In one way, it’s worlds apart. I mean, snowboarding is mainstream now. It’s in the Olympics. It’s not dangerous anymore (the sport yes, but the IDEA and culture as seen from the outside, definitely not). On the other hand, I still believe that snowboarding truly can’t be completely understood and appreciated if you haven’t done it yourself. So that’s the same as back then.

Well, everybody can count, so the more rotations you do in a contest, I guess the “better rider” you are… but style… man, you just gotta figure that out for yourself through indulging in the history of snowboarding culture.

You say that this crew was set against the backdrop of one of the most progressive snowboarding scenes in the world — what made it so progressive in that specific area?
I think there are many reasons to that, many of which are discussed in the film. But to sum it up I would say it was a combination of the natural talent that just happened to be there, and definitely the crucial role of Vegard Scheffler, the local snowboard store owner that functioned as a Godfather/Manager/Reserve-dad/Coach to so many young kids at that time. His impact is still felt today. Also, the fact that we took so much pride in being from such a remote place, so far away from the outside world, with so little influence expect for the annual delivery of VHS tapes from the US (Standard, Mack Dawg, Fall Line, High Voltage, etc). These factors, combined, accounted for some truly groundbreaking times.

Stian, Tapani & Gundersen | Pillowride in Revelstoke | P: Carl Stormer Stian Tapani Gundersen | Pillowride in Revelstoke | P: Carl Stormer

Why? What was the catalyst that brought this idea back to life?
Well, there’s several. But here’s maybe the single most important catalyst: I got into filmmaking via shooting random stuff when I was touring with my band. So I had learned how to edit, and had a couple of recent snowboard shots on my Mac. So I started playing around, making a “trailer” for a film (that didn’t exist). I always loved the narration of Fall Line Films, so I knew I needed some narration. I tried to narrate myself, but it just sounded stupid. So I’m sitting at home, and for some strange reason I find myself tracking down Jerry Dugan (JERRY F….. DUGAN!)’s email address, and sure enough send him an email, pretty much straight up, asking him if he’d be interested in narrating a “trailer” for a film that I really have no idea if ever will be finished. A day later he responded. “Count me in.” I couldn’t believe it. I just called up all the guys instantly… “Jerry D is in… WE HAVE TO MAKE THIS FILM!” And so, it was on.

Stian Skjærvik | BS 3, Jackson Hole | P: Carl Stormer Stian Skjærvik | BS 3, Jackson Hole | P: Carl Stormer

Whose idea was it to finish?
It’s hard to say exactly who and when. But once word started getting out, and we actively started to track down everyone, the ball started rolling pretty instantly. That being said, from thought/idea to action was quite a leap and for some it has taken considerable amounts of time and effort to get back on board…

How far into the original filming did you all get before quitting?
A year or two.. I’m still trying to figure out what happened. But the scene pretty much imploded around 99. Due to numerous reasons (I guess you’ll have to wait for the film to come out). But the point is, everything pretty much shut down around 99 and went into an indefinite hiatus until 2011.

Was there resistance to the project? If so, by who? And why?
I have to say, we’ve been blessed with continuously growing interest and support from so many people, our families, friends, people in our hometown, in Norway and abroad. It has just been very inspiring to us and made us wanna go the extra mile (a subtle understatement) to get this done. I guess the project and idea caters to a lot of people, even outside snowboarding.. I think a lot of people have unfinished stuff in their lives and I really hope this thing of ours can inspire other people to try and pick it up where you left it, even though most odds are against you. I mean, I always cheer for the underdog myself, haha. On a more personal level, there has definitely been struggles getting back into it for some.

How did the original “TANS” crew end up coming together?
Well, some of the guys I’ve kept in touch with over the years, and some I haven’t seen in 10-15 years.Looking back, I can’t even pinpoint the very moment the snowball actually started rolling again. I think there was this moment after a couple of the guys attended a screening of a new snowboard movie… we watched it, heard the music… realized how everything had changed. When we all stood outside the movie theater afterwards, reminiscing, I guess the idea was born… to gather all the old guys to try and finish what we once started. In retrospect, an extremely naive thought (laughs).

How was it for everyone to get back on the snow? Has everyone continued to ride since the 90s, or was there a process of re-learning?
Let’s just say there were considerable amounts of dust to scrape off of old, rusty boards. Some hadn’t even set foot on snow in 8-9 years… but some had never quit, and just kept on going. Watching riders like Roy Olsen still progress to this day is very inspiring to witness.

Roy Olsen | Handplant, Tromsø Norway | P: Carl Stormer Roy Olsen | Handplant, Tromsø Norway | P: Carl Stormer

Where are you filming? The same places as the original film, or different places?
Well, when we started shooting in the 90s the main idea was to finally get to show the world OUR playground (which was never featured in any big films), so there’s definitely gonna be a lot of footage from Tromsø and the places nearby. But a big part of the idea now has been to “re-visit” that old dream of seeing and shooting in all those places we only saw on the VHS tapes, so we’ve been shooting in Jackson Hole, Mt Baker, Whistler, Revelstoke, Riksgransen, New Zealand… and next week we’re heading down to Italy.

How long have you been filming so far/ how long will you be filming?
We’re in our third (and hopefully) last season of the “comeback-project.” So hopefully we’ll wrap it up come June.

What has been the hardest part of this process?
Let’s just say there has been some very, very hard times along the path. And I’ll leave it with that until the film comes out.

What has been the most rewarding part?
Again, ask me in 10 years. But I keep thinking of a quote from a classic song from the snow/skate-soundtrack of our lives, the words of Stimy (RIP) from Inch, that resonates heavily with me:

“I’ve been thinking of a new way
of getting my life together
I didn’t want to just float by
I wanted something i could keep forever”

Stian Tapani | Jackson Hole, WY | P: Carl Stormer Stian Tapani | Jackson Hole, WY | P: Carl Stormer

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