Interview with Grand Prize Winner

Kasperi Kropsu

Through thousands of entries and some seriously heated competition, Kasperi Kropsu was voted the #ayeartoburn2 Grand Prize Winner by you. We caught up with Kasperi for an interview to learn more about this Finnish destroyer.

Interview by Christian Alexander

Photo: Konsta Linkola

What's up Kasperi? Let's get straight into this... How old are you, where are you from and when did you first start skating?

All good, feeling better than ever! I'm 23 years old, originally from Oulu, Finland. It's about 125 miles down from Lapland. I moved to Helsinki last year in May, 2015. I started skating when I was about five years old in 1998 so it has been like 18 years.

What is skating like in Finland? Which skaters from Finland did you look up to as a kid?

Skating in Finland is great, at least whenever the weather is good. So basically that's like four-to-five months in the summertime. The rest is full of rain, wind, snow and freezing cold weather. I've always, still up to this day, looked up to Arto Saari after I first saw the "Sorry" video when I was a little kid. Also Eniz Fazliov has been killing it forever. It's always great so see fellow finnish rippers out there.

It's about to be winter out there. Are there many indoor spots to skate?

Yeah, there's pretty much an indoor skatepark in every major city in Finland but things could be better. Helsinki has one of the biggest in Kontula and a couple other options so it's a great help to every skater here in the wintertime.

Have you ever been to the US?

Yeah I was in New York a few months back for nine days. Great experience. Skating and doing some modeling work for one of the biggest mall chains in Finland. Basically just cruised around the city and skated every spot on the way. The LES skatepark was also great. Good vibes all around.

360 Flip
Photo: Justus Hirvi

Front Board
Photo: Justus Hirvi

With the skateboard industry being mostly in the US, do you have any plans to move here to pursue skating or are you sticking to your roots in Finland?

It has always been a dream of mine after seeing what Arto did back in the day. Even as a little kid I knew that it meant something big to be a pro skater in the states. Hopefully those dreams can come true one day. After I finish school, I know I'm going to do something but I don't know what it is yet. I just gotta keep skating and filming and hopefully things work out.

You work at Ponke's Skate Shop in Helsinki and also going to school to be a chef, right? Is it hard to balance all of that and skate as much as you'd like?

Yeah I started culinary school after I moved to Helsinki. My father was a chef in his younger days and still is an amazing cook so it was kind of a natural education choice for me. I love making food for myself and for others. It's extremely hard for my skating though. I train in one of the top restaurants in Helsinki for five days a week, seven and a half hours a day and at the skate shop during weekends so I have almost literally no time for anything else in my life right now. I try to skate as much as I can before and after work days. Good thing is that I'm going to graduate next spring.

Were you surprised to be picked as one of the 6 #AYEARTOBURN2 winners?

Yeah of course! I was so excited. All of the guys were so good.

What was it like having Alec Majerus pick you as one of the Top 3?

Off the chain! It's great whenever a big name in skateboarding notices someone in these little parts of Europe and getting Finland on the map is one thing. There's so many rippers out here. Also It's so funny how he pronounced my name! Haha. It sounded like "Cash-berry". Amazing!

You filmed your 1 minute part for this contest in between the two weeks after getting picked as one of the 6 winners and moving onto the Final 3. That's pretty crazy. Did you just want all the footage to be new or are you constantly out filming like that?

Yeah I didn't want to put out footage that felt "old" to me and that everybody had already seen. I wanted to make sure that I represented who I am today and what my skating looks like now. We just went to spots that I had already skated before so it didn't take time to speculate and I knew what I was able to do.

Which trick was the hardest or scariest that you did in that video?

Probably the backside overcrooks on the ten-stair rail right across the street from Ponke's. It was not planned at all and it was almost pitch-dark outside. Basically saw the ground and the rail only with the light of the camera.

If you weren't in #AYEARTOBURN2 which one of the finalists would you have voted for?

Possibly Jon McParland. His style and trick choices were so different from anybody else. Quick feet!

Back Smith
Photo: Justus Hirvi

Are you working on anything new? Video parts?

Not right now. I'm just trying to finish school and after that I've got nothing planned. I'm going with the flow. Hopefully next summer is full of surprises!

Is there anyone you'd like to thank?

I'd like to thank everyone that liked and shared my video! The whole country of Finland for supporting me in this competition. Nathan Pacheco and Jon McParland for the tough competition, you guys rule. Family and friends. My Sponsors Ponke's Skate Shop and DC Shoes Finland for always having my back. Thanks to Spitfire and Metro skateboarding for giving me this opportunity. You guys are the best. Ride the fire!

Check out all the #ayeartoburn2 entries including Kasperi's winning video.

Thank you to all the finalists and everyone who entered and voted.
The skating was incredible.

(PS - Finalists, you guys all killed it,
we're making sure you guys get wheels too.)