Interview with Eric Hjorleifson: Pro Shredder and Mad Ski Scientist
Popularly referred to as “Hoji” by friends and fans, Eric Hjorleifson has evolved over his career as a freeskier. With roots in the Canadian Rockies, Hjorleifson had a timely introduction to ski movie juggernaut Matchstick Productions in the early 2000s and was soon travelling and skiing all over the world for film segments. He has his own line of skis with Salt Lake City based company 4FRNT and has helped design boots and bindings for European ski mountaineering company Dynafit. An obsessive tinkerer, Hjorleifson is rarely satisfied with ski boot designs and is always making modifications in his home workshop, a habit that lead him to his current relationship with Dynafit.
Yoon Kim: You were one of the first North American freeriders to endorse lightweight touring equipment like Dynafit, has this opened doors for you as a skier?
Eric Hjorleifson: I’d been ski touring throughout most of my adult life but I was limited with the alpine crossover technology and the big heavy alpine boots with no walk mode. I’d heard a lot about the Dynafit bindings being very reliable for how small they were and I needed to give them a try. What really put it together was that Dynafit were making ski boots that were somewhat high performance on the skiing side of things. Up until then everything had been really lightweight or really soft and there was no way to ski the bindings with a real decent pair of ski boots. It all kind of made sense to give it a try. (Dynafit) were relatively interested as they sent me a bit of product and I began testing it. That’s where I got into the ski boot design side of things and began to work on binding development.
YK: Is the Beast your binding of choice now or do you prefer the lighter weight models that have already served you well?
EH: The Beast is definitely a very important binding especially for the kind of skiing that people are looking to do around here in Whistler. They want to ski at a high level and not worry about their bindings. The classic Dynafit design is beautiful and super lightweight and you can’t undermine it’s function. But if you want to ski in the resort then go ski aggressively in the backcountry, the Beast is certainly a better product for that. It’s designed to take a lot more punishment on big skis and have more consistent release values. The Beast has a lot more elasticity than the classic Dynafit binding, which is a really rigid platform. There is a good place for the Beast with the style of skiing people are looking to do these days. I skied it pretty much every day last season except for a couple big missions where I wanted lightweight gear, the goal of those missions wasn’t to be hucking or anything like that.
YK: You tend to ski a lot before the lifts turn, where did you go this Fall?
EH: I did some skiing in early October when we got that nice snow. That was actually the earliest powder skiing I think I’ve ever done early season. About a week and a half ago I went up to the summit of Wedge (Mountain), that’s a good early season mission. We also did a day on the Duffey and a couple days in the Rockies when I was there last week. It’s a good way to get the season rolling of you can get up high enough It’s just a little punishing on the body. I like to do the missions with a bike if possible.
YK: You’ve got this image of yourself with skis strapped to your bike. How effective is that set up for getting up the mountain? Do you bike in your ski boots?
EH: The ski boots I use for that style of thing are pretty lightweight so I can throw them in my back pack for the way up. Most of the time I’ll bike down with my ski boots on, it’s just easier. I got a nice mountain bike last year so this summer I built a new bike rack for it. It’s incredible to be able to go on those styles of mission and not have to walk the whole way and carry skis and boots on your back.
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