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Riku Laakso


We were living in the waning moments of the prosperous 1980s when my parents took me with my skis to the snowy slopes of Himos and left me there. Jämsä’s ‘Alps’ turned into the freeride campuses of Central Europe on the brink of the next economic downturn, at the tail end of the last boom years.

During the Himos era, I had the privilege of witnessing the birth and evolution of a new skiing culture from the front row, from the shelf of the park, from the speedruns, and even from the podiums, around the turn of the millennium. The French had invented twin-tip skis, and that was something! For the uninitiated, it’s worth mentioning that Himos was then our country’s “freestyle capital” as the ’90s gave way to the early 2000s.

Oh, what crazy, liberating, and experimental times! Rebelling against rules and the perceived rigidity of competitive sports’ frameworks. Parties, big events, and small mobile phones.

By the time we reached the 2010s, ‘new school,’ or what later became known as freeskiing, had evolved into a highly athletic sport that no longer felt the same as the craziness of the turn of the century. Big mountains and natural terrain were increasingly appealing, and on the other hand, all forms of visual expression were of great interest. When I was asked to join the Nipwitz crew, many things “clicked” for a man who was thinking about the future of his skiing. I got to do my own thing, something I considered stylish, in the best company – wonderful years.

After the Nipwitz era, the conceptualization and building of the Ski or Die event series provided fulfillment that was harder to find within my own skiing during those years. A challenging knee injury in 2016 required several seasons of recovery.

Enter the PUSU era. In 2021, Jani (co-founder) asked me to join PUSU’s activities as a kind of test skier to develop a new all-mountain ski. It didn’t take much convincing! Finally, I got to spec out a ski seriously and experience how the vision turns into a finished ski. That Loska ski turned out to be truly excellent! So, thanks for the trust in what I experienced and knew about the subject!

The film project ‘Wo ist die Pukkelpiste?’ with Aarni Toiviainen and Pontus Penttilä for PUSU was a great experience. I got to ‘paint’ the landscape one more time with skis on fire.

As I embark on my 35th ski season, it’s fantastic to start with great skis, as part of a warm and skilled team. I hope for more significantly good skis, memorable days on the slopes, and perfect turns in the future.

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