Scroll through Hans Mindnich’s Instagram and you’ll get a pretty accurate picture of who he is in real-life. Considering the platform, that in itself is unusually refreshing. There’s shots of him blowing bubbles, goofing around on his sled in waist-deep pow, skateboarding through plazas in Budapest, Vienna and Prague, and occasionally getting cheered on by locals when he sticks a landing. With Hans, what you see is what you get: a candor as easy-going as his style on snow.
We recently caught up with Hans, who’s been living off champagne and oatmeal while on tour for Absinthe Films’ latest offering, Stay Tuned. Hans describes how he fell out of the competition circuit to embrace filming video parts, and in doing so became an everyman’s champion. No bells and whistles, just champagne and oatmeal.
The Snowboarder’s Journal: You were just touring through Europe on a double decker bus for the Absinthe Films Stay Tuned tour. Rumor has it, that bus has seen its fair share of rock stars and entourages. What’s it like?
Hans Mindnich: Oh man, this bus… If the walls could tell stories. We call it the Black Pearl. She’s not the newest, but she has style. We don’t have a shower and with 14 people in a cramped space, the morning time is a little muggy. Some of the champagne parties we had after the shows were party highlights of the tour, although they didn’t make the bus smell any better.
Feeling more like a rock star or snowboard bum?
Both! We are the masters of slum life. I’ve gotten really, really good at couch surfing, and living minimally. The European film tour is one of the only weeks of the year it actually does feel like a rock star life. There have been some surreal moments, like when we went to that bathhouse in Budapest that was build it 1586.
Tell us more about living minimally and how it relates to snowboarding for a living.
I’ve been through some crazy ups and downs with snowboarding over the years. I’ve been riding for over 20 years, competing since I was 7-years-old, and I’m only 25. When I was 16, my brother and I were doing pretty well in the competition world, riding for Burton and Red Bull at the time, competing and traveling every six days. We were still too young to even rent a car, and I had just started driving.
Then, all of a sudden, things just seemed to fizzle really fast. Within one year we had lost all of our sponsors. We started riding Breckenridge [CO] everyday and crashing on friends’ couches until we’d get the “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” and had to hit up our next best friend. I was counting every penny we spent on food and water, and I remember one year not buying soda, juice or anything to drink besides water. I ate a lot of oatmeal. In those moments, so long as you’re snowboarding, having fun, and you’ve got enough money to eat, you’re good. As low as some of those moments could be compared to where I am now, they’re also some of my most prized memories. They made me who I am.
How did you make it from losing your biggest sponsors to filming with Absinthe?
[Absinthe Films Founder] Justin Hostynek hit me up after I filmed my first video part (Reckless Abandon, 2016) and hadn’t competed for a year, at a time when I had no idea what I would be doing the following year. I was like, ‘No way, Absinthe wants me to film there?’ So, I filmed a full part for TurboDojo (2017). Shane Charlebois was the filmer, and he was just amazing to be around. That’s maybe the most important factor when you’re out there: the vibe of the person you’re filming with. With Shane and Justin, everything just clicked that year.
How do you keep things productive and positive when filming?
There are up-days, and down-days. Most mornings I’m not the most positive person until after I’ve had a few cups of coffee. No one is after waking up at five in the morning for ten days straight, shoveling for 10 hours a day. A lot of the backcountry jumps you see in Stay Tuned took eight to 10 hours of shoveling, not to mention breaking trail and getting back there. A lot of time you just gotta grit your teeth, get through it, and be as productive as you can be. If there are a bunch of storm days in a row, we try to go out and preemptively build stuff so it’s ready to go for when there’s good light. We end up getting a lot done, as mentally and physically draining as it can be. When things are tough, I just tell myself that the situation can always be worse. Mentally that’s key for those stressful weeks and months.
Favorite memory from filming Stay Tuned?
We went on a trip into the Uintas in Utah without a ton of expectations, because the snow wasn’t crazy good. We built a road gap and those shots made it into the movie. Sean Kerrick Sullivan figured out how to flip the sleds upside down, and Aspen Rain Weaver and I drank a bottle of whiskey and climbed the sleds. It was one of the funniest, most ridiculous times I had last winter, and it’s the opening part to my segment.
Who is the most stoked to see your segment?
My folks! I didn’t come from a whole ton of money, and my dad was always working super, super hard. He had a fiberglass decking company in New Jersey that was pretty good when we were younger, and when we moved to Vermont it didn’t really take. My parents were always pushing for us to do competitions every week—nationals at the end of the year and all that. I didn’t realize until this year that they are still in debt from pushing us into the scene, which speaks to me in such huge ways. It’s very special to have parents who will do that kind of shit.
What inspires your progression?
I get on my skateboard. Skateboarding has always been one of the true loves of my life–just the simplicity and pure fun you can have with it. Beyond skateboarding and snowboarding, you know, it’s kind of hard see the future. My options are opening, but no matter how hard I try to plan, everything is just up in the wind until it’s actually happening.