Jussi Oksanen

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Photo: Russell Dalby

W O R D S / E R I C G R E E N E

What a run, huh? Seventeen years of lapping the globe as a pro, Jussi

is a living legend and you should all bow your heads and kiss his feet,

which are no doubt disgusting after decades in wet snowboard boots.

Big Juss recently hung those wet smelly boots up and parked his ass in

a desk as Mizu, a brand he co-founded back in ’08—the same year he

dropped his video part in Mack Dawg’s Double Decade. Take note, kids.

Jussi pushed his career further than almost anyone, but he still had to

prepare for life after snowboarding. The man has kids to feed! Jussi

made sure that every year of filming was his climax year and he left the

game on a high note—just like Eazy-E did (except Jussi didn’t die of

AIDS). Some people said the big B dropped him at contract time like

they dropped Mads and Roman, but Jussi says the decision was his own.

Either way, the end has arrived and he has now joined the team of boring

office monkeys. Welcome to paradise. Maybe he’s earned the status

of free lunches and extra holiday time around his office because of his

fame? Wouldn’t that be nice.


Frontside 540, Whistler. Photo: Russell Dalby

Is it weird to call yourself “retired” when you’re in your thirties?

Well, it surely doesn't feel like I retired. I'm more busy now than I've ever

been in my life.

Busy with what? What are you doing these days?

I’m working fulltime at Mizu, the company that I co-founded a few years

ago. I'm working in marketing. We are a small company, so everyone has

their hands in everything. It's great to be back and help grow the company

and spread our mission.

How many days do you think you’ll snowboard this winter?

If I get 20 days in, I will be pretty stoked [laughs].

What do you consider the personal highlight of your career?

Managing to stay pro for 17 years. I didn't think turning pro would happen

in the first place, let alone last for 17 years.

Are there any little things or experiences that didn’t do much for your

success, but are things you’ll always remember?

For sure. Like, in the early days, I didn't really act in a way that should

have led me to success. I pretty much partied for six months straight

every summer and by the start of the winter, I would have put on at least

15 pounds and my fitness level was terrible. It was never the ideal way to

get ready for the season, but somehow I always got through those years

and I feel like I learned from my mistakes and was able to get back in the

groove and feel the love of snowboarding before it was too late.

What was your biggest letdown?

I haven’t had any major ones, personally, but it's a letdown how all the

energy drink companies are dictating the future of snowboarding these


Do you feel like your work ethic is what kept you at the forefront of the

Burton team for so long while all the other riders cycled through?

For sure. I worked my ass off for the last eight years. I would train hard

in the summer and then in the winter I was on the program. Once I had

my kids, I would just do sort of strike missions. I would fly to Whistler for

five days and work my ass off, trying to get as many shots as I could and

then I’d bounce straight home. So, due to the fact that I was on these

constant mini-missions whenever I was in the mountains, I had to get shit

done effectively.

Was your retirement by choice or was it the choice of your sponsors?

I'd been brewing on the idea for about three years now. I got back to

being more involved with Mizu last winter—just sort of giving a hand

in their marketing and social media, and it naturally started taking up

more and more time. Tim, our CEO, came to me in the spring and asked

me out of blue how I would feel about coming back to the company full

time. It was kind of a shock for me to think about at first, as at the time I

hadn't really decided either way. I thought about it for a while and talked

with my wife, and figured out that this was such a great opportunity and

the timing was so perfect for me at this point in my career, so I decided

that this was it and it was time to move on with my next chapter. Mizu

has been my baby since we started it and I have a lot of passion for our

company and our mission, so I was really stoked to get back in the mix

and help the brand grow.

Who was the oldest rider on your crew at the start of your career?

I was the youngest at the start, for sure. I was 19 the first season I filmed

with Standard Films and the "older” pros were Dave Downing, Sean

Johnson, Andy Hetzel, and Noah Salasnek. They were all around same

age, but all still killing it. They were on a whole other level to me and I

was just so blown away to see how these guys rode mountains—so experienced.

I was lucky to ride with those guys and learn from them.

Jussioksanen cab180

Half Cab, Whistler. Photo: Dom Gauthier

What are your thoughts about how the industry supports or doesn’t

support snowboarders when they retire?

There are a few brands who have done it right and kept some legends

on their programs, and have also taken riders into the business side

of things. It's so valuable if you can keep a few guys on board to keep

everything legit and rider driven. Snowboarding has become such an

expensive sport. Keeping people on as ambassadors is an added cost

for brands. It’s a lot of money to send someone on a few trips or whatever,

so it's not like skateboarding where you don't need a crazy travel

budget. Just lift tickets these days are crazy. Even when I was getting it

all reimbursed through my travel budget, I still had a hard time paying

over $100 for a day pass.

What has been the biggest adjustment in your new life?

Just a new routine. Honestly, I'm kind of stoked on it. Maybe in a year

or two I might feel a little different, but for now it's nice to be home

every night and hang out with my family. There are a lot of little things

that other people take for granted, like taking my kids to soccer, taking

them camping, planning trips... We could never plan anything for eight

months out of the year because I was always on the go.

What will you miss most about being a pro snowboarder?

I think I will miss the freedom of going anywhere I want, anytime I want.

Wherever it's best the conditions, that's where we were heading to.

What will you not miss at all?

Jumping 80-foot jumps in shitty snow or doing crazy tricks. I probably

won't spin over 360 for a long time.

Will you be getting free gear and lift tickets for life?

It would be nice, but who knows. I have plenty of Burton gear to last me

for the next 10 years.

What advice do you have for younger pros who are currently at the

peak of their careers?

Enjoy every moment and be smart with your money. You will need it one

day! Nothing lasts forever.

Is there anything you wish you could do over?

No, man. I've been very lucky. I've been through a lot in snowboarding

and had such amazing times and experiences. In the last few years, I

knew it was coming to the end of doing it professionally, so I really took

it all in and enjoyed every moment of it. I feel very satisfied and fulfilled

from my time in snowboarding.

Do you still have the same passion for snowboarding? You’ve got to be

a bit jaded at this point.

I love snowboarding and can’t wait to just go ride for myself with no

sort of commitments. We already have a few trips lined up. We’re taking

a Mizu trip to Japan this February and as crazy as it sounds, I've never

ridden there other than in Nagano for the ’98 Olympics. I'm stoked to go

and freeride for the first time.

Any last words in case this is your final interview?

Follow us at @mizulife.

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