090: Elias Elhardt/Another Dimension

Elias Elhardt, Innsbruck, June 2019. Photo: Theo Acworth

“When looking at the bigger picture, you want to view it through a small window.”

I’ve interviewed almost 100 guests in the two short years I’ve been putting together this podcast, and they’ve all got one thing in common – at some point, they shelved everything and dedicated their life to their passion.

Chez Elhardt, June 2019. Photo: Theo Acworth

It’s particularly true of professional athletes. After all, there’s no other way to make it.

But what if you reach the top and realise that – whisper it – there’s more to life your chosen sport? And that maybe this thing you’ve dedicated your life to perhaps isn’t the path to personal satisfaction and existential happiness you thought it was?

That’s the premise at the heart of Elias Elhardt’s latest film project, Contraddiction. It is a beautiful piece of work that is a treatise on the essential uselessness of the snowboarding lifestyle. It is that rare thing – an action sports film with a point of view beyond ‘Woo-hoo! Let’s shred’.

Photo: Theo Acworth

As you’ll see if you watch the film, Elias has a lot of very interesting things to say about snowboarding, but also about how these activities link to self awareness, and how perhaps there might be something more to this while business than sliding sideways. And how it might, as a professional, behove him to use his platform to investigate this possibility. In this he takes his place alongside peers such as Christian Haller, Jerome Tanon and David Benedek who are also exploring similar themes in their own work.

As you’ll know if you’re a regular listener of the show, these themes are right up my strasse, so while I was in Innsbruck in June 2019 I visited Elias at his place, and sat down to discuss these themes, and find out more about his new project which saw him spend five weeks in Kosovo.

I very much enjoyed my thought-provoking conversation with Elias and I hope you do too.

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Show Notes

  • Unbelievable views of Elias’ home in Innsbruck.
  • Winter routines.
  • Exploring the local mountains.
  • Elias’ Balkan project.
  • Finding unknown ski and snowboard destinations in Europe.
  • What drew Elias to the Balkans.
  • “I always look for stories that naturally make sense… if it doesn’t work, don’t force it”.
  • The rise of nationalism across Europe.
  • Snowboarding’s common ground.
  • Lessons learnt from former Yugoslavia.
  • Dealing with sensitive topics.
  • 5 weeks in Kosovo.
  • His team behind the Balkan project.
  • His approach to finding stories.
  • The stories learned from the project so far.
  • Happenings from their travels across Kosovo.
  • Hospitable strangers.
  • Working on Contraddiction.
  • The contrived side of snowboard filmmaking.
  • The art of honesty in the media.
  • “The most beautiful love letter I could write would be the most honest one”.
  • Admiring David Benedek’s work.
  • The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding.
  • Zabardast.
  • “There will be contradictions but it’s much better to live with them in an outspoken way and live with your values”.
  • Responses to Contraddiction.
  • The danger of over-intellectualising snowboarding.
  • Studying psychology.
  • Mixing beyond the snowboarding community.
  • Ideas for future projects: “use snowboarding as a platform to tell stories”.
  • On keeping that connection you first had from snowboarding.
  • “I can’t snowboard well if I’m not feeling it”.
  • Plans for the summer.

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