Matthias Mayr: “Do it again!”5 min read
Extreme Sports videos and movies have been taking over the internet and stealing our attention. Millions of people throughout the world look at the incredible things extreme athletes come up with and aspire to, one day, experience something similar. There are many authors of such videos out there – from home made gone wild action to drop-ins in the most alien places on Earth. But there are some that do it better than others. And one of those people who excels in doing that is Matthias Mayr.
Matthias is on a mission to capture the incredible achievements and risks of the world’s craziest adventures. He put on skis for the first time when he was 5 and as if it was predestined for him to draw lines in the snow where no one else has before.
His movie The White Maze has won 13 awards and the latest one – No Man’s Land – was recently awarded Best Mountain Sports Film at the Torello Mountain Film Festival and the Audience Award of Bansko Film Fest 2018. It is in Bansko where I meet up with Matthias and ask him about important things like the freezing cold.
In search of distant and hard to access spots that offer the liberating experience of going down virgin slopes, Matthias has been on expeditions in some alien places. In 2015 the thirst for adventures takes Matthias Mayr and his companions to the isolated island of Onekotan where they ski down volcano.
Nobody’s been there in the winter, nobody’s ever skied there, there are no people living there, everyone says it’s impossible, and the more people say it’s impossible, the more motivated you get.
The following expedition takes Matthias Mayr and his partner in crime Matthias “Hauni” Haunholder to one of the coldest regions in the world – Siberia. There they ski down the highest mountain in East Siberia – Gora Pobeda. This adventure gives birth to the multi-award winning movie The White Maze.
I catch up with Matthias after his last adventure in Antarctica.
The continent is known as the coldest, driest and windiest of all. It is also the one with highest average elevation. Due to the extreme cold, the glaciated terrain seemed to be impossible for free-skiing.
Despite the mass’ prejudice Matthias Mayr, Matthias „Hauni“ Haunholder and cinematographer Johannes Aitzetmüller set over for an unsupported expedition into the mainland of Antarctica to find beautiful mountains for skiing.
They have an incredibly innovative strategy for a more efficient transport – to use kite surfing technique. The guys prepare for the expedition in a highly unusual setting – learning to kite-surf at the beach.
I cannot help but wonder how cold is really cold for Matthias. When I asked him, he only smiled and made a gesture with his hands showing “very little”. Passionate, honest and stubborn, Matthias Mayr is always with a warm smile in the coldest of weather.
When did you know that you will become a professional skier?
Matthias: Professionally I knew in 2009. I did not really know it that much before because I did not really know that it is possible to earn money with the kind of skiing that I do. When I was a kid I wanted to become a soccer player. Besides other things, I wanted to become a biologist.
Are you still into that?
Matthias: Not anymore but when I was a kid I read everything.
If you can describe your experience in Antarctica with three words, which ones will you choose?
Matthias: Cold. Extraterrestrial. Impressive.
Would you go back?
Matthias: I mostly choose places that are really remote and hard to reach and you need a lot of inner motivation to make it there. I gain most of my inner motivation by doing it for the first time. The second time would not mean the same for me.
So it has to be the first ascent?
Matthias: Not necessarily the first ascent for humans, but for me- yes.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you face when filming an expedition?
Matthias: In general, it is definitely to bring down an idea into a concept and find the budget for it. And then actually realizing it. The whole thing is hard. The easy stuff is to be there, to hike around and ski.
When you want to tell a story, how do you approach it?
Matthias: I have a certain idea before but it can happen that due to the things that you experience it changes. But usually, I have kind of the story in my head.
From all the experiences that you have had which is the one that will remain in your heart forever?
Matthias: That was the first expedition to Onekotan Island in 2015. The first one and the hardest one.
What does the perfect day look like for you?
Matthias: The perfect day is a day in the mountains. To go skiing with my girl or family during the day and to spend the evening at home with my pets- two cats.
And how does the perfect line look like to you?
Matthias: The perfect line is Fast, Steep and Powdery.
And what are some of your deepest fears?
Matthias: At the moment it’s a private thing but usually, it is losing someone that you love.
What is your approach to risk?
Matthias: Trying to keep it on the low. Always to be on the safe side.
If you could give your teenage self and advice what would it be?
Matthias: Do it again.
What is an adventure to you?
Matthias: The whole life.