Torgeir Bergrem

Torgeir Bergrem
Life as a pro snowboarder is constantly evolving. For Norwegian Torgeir Bergrem that means exploring places he loves like B.C. and Alaska longer term. Posting up in a tent for a month here and a few weeks there, Torgeir not only cuts his cost per run down but increases his production on clips per trip. I caught up with the former two-time Olympic slopestyle competitor recently in California as he was premiering his new film, “Temple of the Dawg.” The film highlights his year camping in the backcountry and goes to show that there is always a new angle to see snowboarding through. Just make sure to bring your portable heater for those cold nights in the tent.

The Word with Torgeir Bergrem

What's going on Torgeir?
Yeah Nate, I'm in California, got in yesterday. Just came back from a little Oceanside Harbor surf. It was good, super offshore.
 Nice! You came from Norway?
Yeah, we came from Norway, we spent 23 hours on flights yesterday.
 What are you up to in California?
We have the premiere on Friday for the video project that I've been working on for the last year. I stayed in Utah in January, we went to Wyoming in February and Whistler in March, and then we went to Alaska in April. I was on the road for December 27th to April 29th.
 And what's the film?
It’s called “Temple of the Dawg,” and it came from us snow camping in Whistler for three weeks. We were living in a tent and just trying to figure out how that whole program would work. We had to bring 60-70 gallons of gas for the sleds and 150 pounds of propane up there. We had a photographer who was also working as a guide for us, and he had a chainsaw with a mill on it. We ended up making countertops and tables up there, which was super cool.
 Those backcountry trips must be freezing at night. Do you have a bunch of insulation in the tents or how does that work?
There's a propane furnace in the tents that we have on low heat throughout the night. It’s a little questionable because when you're sleeping, you're not supposed to have live fire inside the tents. But we needed to dry out all our gear on lines in the ceiling of the tent. You can't bring a whole bunch of stuff up there. I have three pairs of first layers and four pairs of snowboard socks that I had to wear throughout the whole trip. It's crucial that you have a place to dry your stuff. And then we also had the Big Agnes, negative 40 degree sleeping bags.
 Where did the name “Temple of the Dawg” come from?
We were listening to the Temple of the Dog, the band, in Park City. We were trying to find music for the film and we were setting up the tent and we figured out that the tent would kind of be our temple, and then we're all dogs up there. I don't know, it felt right to call it that, and we just ran with it.
Let's back up a little bit. What was it like growing up in Norway and when did you start getting into snowboarding?
I got my first snowboard for Christmas in ‘99. My brother and I shared it for a year, so he took a run then I took a run. Then the Christmas after he got a new one, and I got the old one for myself. We lived five or ten minutes away from the ski hill. After school every day my dad would take us there and leave us and come pick us up when it closed.
 How old were you then?
I started when I was eight. And then from when I was 11 they would take us every day. And then I moved away from home to go to a snowboarding High School when I was 15.
 What did they teach you at the school?
It was a sporting school; they had a bunch of different sports. Alpine skiing, snowboarding, and if you were in the top you wanted to go there because it’s where all the best snowboarders went. It's more of a place to ride with people who are passionate about the same things. Mondays you had school. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday you had half day, school in the morning and then from 10:30 you'd go snowboard.
Do you think there's a specific style with how Norwegian's ride?
I think yes and no. A lot of people grow up together and ride together, so they would naturally have similar stuff that they focus on and the way they ride. But as I got older people kind of branched out into different directions. It's cool to see how many different paths you can take within the sport. Some people go on to compete, which I did for a long time. And then other people started filming right away. I got into filming later, which was always the dream, but I had to compete to make a name for myself and to get funding for the projects I wanted to create.
 Totally. You transitioned out of contests, but you did Natural Selection in 2022. How has that compared the normal competition experience?
It was cool to ride a different format. I think Natural Selection is a rad concept it’s doing great things for the sport and for the backcountry side of snowboarding. And it was cool to be around people that you only watch in movies. You get used to being around the contest people and they're your friends, but you still get a little star struck when you see Travis Rice and those dudes around.
 On that bigger stuff, does it translate on video or is it just that much crazier when you're watching it live?
It always looks mellower than it actually is. We walked through the course the day before the contest, and I was like, ‘Dude, this is fucked.’ When you're standing on the inside of jumps like, “This is actually the transfer you got to do, dude.” It's gnarly. But then you get into it and it just flows and it works.
You're dropping in and the drones on your ass and you have to be sending it, but also sticking it. Are you freestyling it or is there a full run that you're sticking to?
Sometimes you have to wing it, but ideally you don't end up in that situation. You need to find your line. But when you look at the photos and you look at the video trying to find your line, everything looks different from the aerial angle and from the bottom angles. You can't see any rocks when you're riding because the rocks are hidden by the snow that's on top. It's like a maze, and you need to find your way through, but when you do it more you get better at it. And it's just one of those things you get more comfortable the more you do it. Travis is living proof of that because he’s been doing it for so many years, and he knows all the trees and all the rocks, it's crazy to watch.
 Going into this winter, do you have goals in mind?
I'm doing a couple of different video projects that I'm excited about. We're doing a project in Whistler in February, another snow camping project with Spencer, so that'll be cool. And then we're doing another project up in Alaska with Monster, we have a solid crew up there, which I think is going to be sick. April is when the season's dying down everywhere so that’s when I fly up to Alaska and hit the big boy stuff.
And what Electric goggles do you wear usually?
My favorite right now is the Hex. I'm also starting to get into the Rotech. I'm trying to mess with the magnetic ones too. I always bring three or four different goggles out when I'm filming in the back country. Because if you fall and ragdoll and the goggles fall off, they just get filled with snow. It's just one of those things, no matter what goggles you use, it's going to happen at some point.
 Do you have a favorite pair of sunglasses you wear in the snow?
Yeah, I've been wearing the Road Glaciers a bunch because they have those side shields that block the sun out.
 Is there any backcountry location you want to visit that you haven't been to yet or anywhere you want to go that you haven't seen?
There are a lot of different spots that I haven't been to yet. There are spots in Alaska that I want to go to that I haven't been to. We went to Valdez this year, but I want to go to Haines and if I can go to the Tordrillos at some point, that would be cool. It’s very expensive to go.
 I would imagine the average snowboard back country trip isn't that cheap, right?
It's not the cheapest. But now we have the snow camping gear, which takes care of some of the costs at least. You need a big truck, and you have snowmobiles on the back, and you need gas for both. Helicopters aren't cheap. It's crazy, like five grand an hour.
Do you have a favorite location to ride or favorite terrain to ride?
Yeah, I think riding resort powder is one of my favorite things to do when you can just take the lift and ride good snow, and everything's just super accessible. There are a couple places like Brighton in Utah where you can access lot of good terrain just right off the lift. It makes everything so much easier and fun. But you can only have so much of that. I mean, when you're riding a big line or you're riding a big jump or whatever, it's cool to do in the moment. But you can only have so many of those days before you get either hurt or tired or not focused enough to do it. I think it’s important to have a nice balance of mellow and gnarly.
 How do you see the future of snowboarding for yourself?
It doesn't even have to be new tricks, but different spots. If you go down a line and you throw a trick into a big mountain line, that's the dream for me now. If I can try to make my big mountain snowboarding a little more freestyley and do tricks on big faces and big features, I think that's where my focus is, and that's where I'm headed.
 Is it getting cold in Norway?
Oh yeah. I woke up a video from my buddy and there’s like four inches of snow on the street downtown Oslo. Winter is coming, and I can’t wait.