The Closing Cup + an interview with Elio Fumagalli

As the dust settled from an action packed week of slushy spring boarding, we caught up with Elio Fumagalli to get his thoughts on the Escape crews second event. Along the way, we found out the full story on his perspective bending injury and the future of Switzerland’s most valuable video gang…

Elio by Jonas Gasser

Hey Elio, What’s up with The Escape Closing Cup and how did it all get started?
It’s our way of celebrating the end of the season here in Laax. Everything started about two years ago with Lou (Staub), Gian (Sutter) and me. Together with the other boys in the Escape crew, we created this concept. The Pleasure spring sessions had gotten smaller and smaller over the years, so we pitched the idea to do our own thing through our Escape Crew network. Luckily Laax gave us the opportunity, so this is the second year that we’ve hosted a session.

What do you like most about it?
It‘s such a carefree atmosphere. Everybody can come and session together. That’s really the main point of it – getting together and heaving a good time!

What was on the menu for the three days of the event?
We started with a really fun hip session. On the second day, we had a great jib plaza where people could get creative and push themselves. And there was also the Super Friendly Society playground, where people of all levels could ride together. The point of that one was to make sure that everyone felt welcome. On the last day we closed it out with a good mini pipe session and a dance party in front of the No Name bar. Every night there was music and drinks, and in the end the parties got pretty wild.

You’ve mentioned that snowboarding is not the only important thing in The Cup, what else was there?
Of course snowboarding is the main focus, but I also think that’s important to celebrate the culture next to the riding with music and dancing. I want it to be a place where everyone can express themselves and get involved. It‘s like a magic soup where everybody adds their own flavor to the mix.

So everybody in the crew has their own responsibility, regarding the organization of the event?
Yes… my part is the music, both as a DJ and also organizing the parties with the bars. Lou is the machine, he pushes the project and has the skills to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Gian has his own space with all the creatives. Everybody contributes in their own way. We couldn’t do it without the energy from the whole crew. It‘s great that everybody can bring their own skills to the event. It’s actually a lot like our movies.

Since you mentioned movies, how was your experience filming for Sixth Sense? I guess your injury was pretty heavy…
Yes man, an interesting bail. Till then, I had been super lucky and hadn‘t really had any big injuries over the years. But last year I had a bigger accident and broke my hip. In the end, I had to get surgery, involving some screws and metal plates.
The whole movie was kind of a challenge and there was some pressure, since everybody wanted to do better than last year. That’s also great, as long as we don’t take it too far as riders, or as a crew. But Flo (Fischer) injured himself on the first trip, Dario hurt himself too on a Ride trip, and after two clips I fucked up my hip. So the energy in the crew was pretty difficult. In the end, they managed to do a trip in December to finish off the movie and really delivered.

So what happened exactly, with your injury?
It was the third spot with a steep double kink. I had some really good first tries with 50/50s and was slowly moving towards a frontlip. But on the fifth try I was just to chilled and lost the respect for the spot. The result was a classic front lip PING with the tail to full body taco. Thats how I fucked up my hip. But I was so surprised regarding my attitude, since I wasn‘t really too bummed. In a way, I actually felt a bit relieved and was able to finally let go of all of the pressure that had been adding up over the seasons,
But I did a good rehab over the summer and this season was so good. I really didn‘t have a lot of pressure and got to enjoy lots of soul-shredding. A lot of people think I‘m not shredding anymore. But thats not the case – I just ride other things. I’m not putting myself in a position where I might eat another taco.

Elio filming for Sixth Sense by Tatu Toivanen

So now you’ll focus more on powder instead of the streets?
Yes, I was really stoked about some day trips with Severin van der Meer this season. It‘s so fun to shred with him and get to know new resorts, while building up some backcountry knowledge. It‘s important to have somebody to open the doors. You never know if you are a powder guy if you just go out with street riders. Now I think I found my passion again in the powder and on the bigger mountains.

What do you like the most about it?
It‘s so creative and playful! When I watch Sevi, it’s like he’s dancing. I want to take that energy and find my way of flowing with the mountain. And I think that kind of riding is so relatable. Everybody can do it on their own level. You can make some beautiful turns or send it on big cliffs. It‘s about connecting with the board and nature – Just being in the moment.

Elio by Jonas Gasser

It sounds like you’re on a different path now. But it’s not just you. I guess the rest of the crew has opportunities with their sponsors for more international projects. Will Escape still produce movies in the future, or will it go more and more into events like Closing Cup?
As far as I know, we’ll take a break this year. So there is no new movie planned and everybody has been busy filming for other projects. But we still have the idea to get back together and put our energy into a movie again some day.
But at the moment I’m really motivated to take that energy and use it to bring people together with events like the Closing Cup. So we can bring people to the mountains and show them what you can experience here. 

I guess that this was the first time in a long time where you didn’t have a video project to work on. How did that feel?
This was actually one of my best seasons ever. Without the pressure of filming, my snowboarding had more room to breathe. And I think that everyone can take something from my experience. We don’t always have to be pushing super hard. If you leave a bit more space to be present, a new path will bloom. It’s been an important lesson for me to leave space for things to come naturally.
For me, an injury is always a message from my body that I should reflect on what I do and find a new way. I find that when I take time and go shredding for myself, it’s easy to reconnect with the kid in me. I realized that I don’t always need cameras or even a big crew. I’m also happy just building a side hit on my own, working on a trick and screaming my head off when I finally get it.

Elio by Jonas Gasser

Sounds like you’re just as motivated as ever…
A lot of people have come to me asking if I still ride. But for me, it‘s great to be under the radar right now. I can still fully live my passions, with snowboarding and music. It’s not important to use what I do to build
myself up as a public figure. For me, it‘s more important to inspire people and show them what they can do in the mountains.

How do you want to share that message with a broader audience?
Of course social media is a big channel to inform people. But you can’t fully experience a person’s vibe through socials. It’s still important to be on those channels, but I’d rather put more effort into building connections and community in real life.

Community Vibes by Thomas Wietse

I guess that brings us back to events like Closing Cup?
Yes, exactly. We’ll keep bringing people together and encouraging everyone to invite more people to come with them. It‘s about reaching a lot of people and introducing them to great vibes and good music! Our community can only get stronger when we bring more good people together!
Hosting an event is like having a room that we can decorate. We can help people feel at home and share the vibe. In the end, I’d like for the Closing Cup to feel like a big playground! Everybody does different things at their own spots. People are riding, dancing, drinking and having a good time… just like in a feel good movie. Everyone’s in their own world, but we’re all in the same playground!

That’s a great vision to end this on. Thanks for your time Elio, and thanks to the whole Escape crew, Vans and Laax for making events like this happen. Last shoutout goes to Thomas and Shannon for contributing photos and Jonas for making this interview happen.