Ingi – The World’s First Celebrity Snowskater: In-Depth Profile and Interview
If you’re a regular follower of the Sled Dogs Family page, you’ll be familiar with the basic profile and exploits of our Top Dog, pro-coach, and JUMP champ, Ingi Freyr Sveinbjörnsson. Known to friends and fans simply as ’Ingi’, the Icelandic athlete has been at the centre of the sport since its inception, picking up awards, commercial sponsorship, TV spots, and international fame. It’s no exaggeration to say that Ingi is the world’s first celebrity snowskater.
Iceland, that volcanic plateau sat defiantly in the middle of the North Atlantic, has a long pedigree of adventure and big personalities, punching far above its weight as a population of only 300,000. The island nation can lay claim to the first European discovery of America by Leif Erikkson, 500 years before Columbus. The musician and actor Björk is world-renowned as a different kind of pioneer in the realm of the avant-garde. In popular entertainment, the formidable bodybuilder and strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is better-known as ’The Mountain’ from the HBO TV series Game of Thrones, while the Icelandic national football team were the darlings of the UEFA Euro 2016 competition and represent the smallest nation ever to qualify for both the UEFA Euros and the FIFA World Cup. If that weren’t enough, Icelandics are also the world’s biggest readers and writers, with half the islanders reading eight books a year, 93% reading at least one book in a year, and 1 in 10 Icelandics publishing a book within their lifetime. Now with Ingi as the world’s most famous snowskater, No.1 freestyle artist, TV celebrity, and Pro-athlete sponsored by Russell Athletic, Iceland can add another trophy to its bulging cabinet.
Such achievements are all the more remarkable given the island’s extreme isolation, tough conditions, and relative lack of wealth. Iceland has little in the way of grand cathedrals, elegant promenades, or towering skyscrapers boasting wealth and status. Until very recently, Iceland was one of the poorest nations in Europe. Is there something in the island’s DNA that allows its inhabitants to turn this toughness into a valuable asset?
Is there something in Iceland’s DNA that allows its inhabitants to turn the tough condtions and isolation into a valuable asset?
I´m not sure. Might be our fresh air or maybe there´s something in our naturally fresh water. Who knows? And let´s not forget that we still got a lot of viking left in our DNA 😉
What was it like growing up in Iceland?
It was nice. I grew up on a small island in the north of Iceland called Hrísey.When I was growing up there it had population of about 300 people so it was a small sea village with no sports facilities, movie theaters or any other activities for kids so the island became our playground.In the summer we mostly rode bikes and plaid football and in the winter we rode sleds and climbed up on rooftops to jump down in to the snow (probably where I got my jumping addiction from 😉 )
You travel the world with Sled Dogs Snowskates – where is your favourite Snowskating destination?
This is a hard one, so many incredible places I´ve been to. But 2 places come to mind. Kaprun Austria is one of my favorite for it´s probably the most beautiful place I´ve seen, the ski resort is amazing and it´s also the first place I traveled to with Sled Dogs so it´s a special place for me.
But my favorite has to be South Korea. I´ve been there twice and I´m going again in December.
There´s something about that place that I can´t really put in words. I just love the people (most open and positive people I´ve ever met), culture and the ski resorts.
At what point did you stop and think to yourself: wow – I’m actually famous now?
To be honest I never really think of my self as a famous person and I´m always amazed and humbled when i travel to another country and people know me by name. Never get used to that but I love it.
Are you a big reader like most Icelanders? What are you reading right now?
No I must admit that I´m not a big reader. I usually just wait until the movie comes out.
You’re 36 – the same age as Roger Federer and Serena Williams. We’re becoming more familiar with athletes like them – and also Christiano Ronaldo at 32 and even Ryan Giggs who only retired from top-flight competition at the age of 40 – coming back from injuries and then enjoying long and successful careers. Do you think this is down to better health awareness and treatment or just a more positive attitude?
I think It´s a little bit of both. To me age is just a number, sure when I have a crash today I feel it a lot more than I did 10 years ago but that doesen´t mean I won´t get right back up and try again.
like I always say “You don´t stop doing those things because you got old, you get old because you stopped doing those things”
Your profile suggests that overall, you prefer freestyle over racing, is this correct? And why?
Yes that´s true. Believe it or not, I´m not and never have been a competitive person.
To me it´s more about enjoying the moment and have fun and that´s what freestyle is all about. Plus I just love inventing new tricks and push my limits.
Nothing beats the feeling of flying through the air to a perfect landing or the feeling of landing a new trick you´ve been thinking about for a long time.
But don´t get me wrong, I really like racing and when I race, I go all in. I´m just as happy whether I win or loose, It´s more about taking part and meeting the other racers that matters to me and If i win, that´s a bonus.
I heard a story that you once competed despite a painful injury, using the adrenaline to power through. Can you tell me more about that? When was it and what motivates you to do that?
Oh yeah, that was crazy!
It was March 2016 In Landgraaf Netherlands. It happened in the practice runs before the time trials that I started to feel massive pain in my right thigh and I thought I might have pulled something. Later I would find out that The muscle in my thigh was badly torn. This was a pretty big race. There were some Crashed Ice athletes and like that wasn´t enough The Dallago brothers were also racing. The pain was so bad that I wasn´t sure if I should go on, but being a huge Crashed Ice fan and even bigger Dallago fan I thought to my self “I´m here and I actually have a chance of racing against those legends” and just being a part of a race against those guys was epic in my mind so I decided to go for it.
I pushed myself through the time trials and ended up with the best or second best time if I recall correctly and when the race itself started the pain was so bad that I was lying on the ground sweating and shaking between runs but every time I was called up to race, adrenaline took over and I gave it all I had.
And somehow I ended up in 2nd place.
After the race I was so pumped up that i decided to take part in the freestyle Jump contest and i got 1st place.
5 Days later i was in Canada and wasn´t sure if I should race. But then i thought to my self “I´m here and i have nothing better to do” so of course I signed up but only managed to get to semi finals in the race and placed 3rd in the jump contest.
I was super happy with that result and ended up ranking 3rd in the world.
Do you think all snowskaters have unique strengths and weaknesses or is there one specific area, for example: balance, that probably all snowskaters could work on?
It depends on what yo plan to do with your snowskates.
Everybody can learn how to snowskate for the skates are super easy to learn.
But if you want to master your Dogs for example jumping or speed balance and foot strength are key factor.
Are you going to put on a special show when the BONEFIGHT show rolls into town in Iceland this season?
That is of course the plan 😉
And my Shred Dogs freestyle team will also be there so if the conditions are good you might expect some fireworks…