JO­HAN JON­S­SON

SKI - - THE SHOW MUST GO ON -

Bl­iz­zard ath­lete Jo­han Jon­s­son is Swedish by sum­mer, Swiss by win­ter. The pro freeskier first fell in love with the lift-ac­cessed ex­tremes of En­gel­berg in 2002, and has re­turned from his home in Swe­den for ev­ery win­ter sea­son since. “If you don’t have any idea where you’re go­ing, you’ll prob­a­bly end up there.” —WM My dad was a coach for a ski club in Swe­den, though he never raced him­self. He’s the one who got me into ski­ing. I raced un­til I was 19, but I wasn’t very se­ri­ous about ski­ing back then. My fa­ther would like to think I was on my way to the World Cup, but I re­ally wasn’t. It wasn’t just lack of ta­lent, but lazi­ness on my part. Af­ter leav­ing the ski academy, I crashed my dad’s car on a slip­pery road when I was out hav­ing fun. I fig­ured he would ob­vi­ously be pissed. My 20-year-old brain didn’t want to deal with it, so I took a train down to Stock­holm with a friend from the academy to book a ticket to the States and leave town be­fore my dad got home from work that day. My friend and I had been talk­ing about try­ing this whole freeski­ing thing. So, we just went into a travel agency and asked for a cheap ticket to the States— we didn’t know where, we just wanted to go some­where on the west side of the coun­try on a cheap ticket. We flew to San Fran­cisco and bought a Volvo 240 from this shady pizza joint guy for $2,000. We toured around the West Coast, up to Whistler, to Ta­hoe and Snow­bird for about three months. That was the first time I went freeski­ing. Af­ter that trip I fig­ured I would not be get­ting into a speed­suit again. This was way more fun. “The best place in the world to ski is where you’re ski­ing that day.” —WM When I first went to En­gel­berg in 2002, I was just sup­posed to stay for a week. But Switzer­land and I clicked, and I ended up stay­ing for the sea­son. Then I went back the next year. Af­ter a few years, I thought I should prob­a­bly try an­other place, but the more places I saw, the more I re­ally liked En­gel­berg. It’s a great place to work for pro­fes­sional skiers and pho­tog­ra­phers. The ex­tremely good lift-ac­cessed ski­ing, with big runs that are be­tween 3,000 and 6,000 ver­ti­cal feet, is what En­gel­berg is fa­mous for. The ski tour­ing is also amaz­ing, but it ended up in the shadow of the lif­tac­cessed ski­ing be­cause the runs off the lift are so spe­cial in com­par­i­son to what’s at other re­sorts.

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