Not only a world-class snowboarder and Olympic gold medalist, Iouri Podlatchikov is currently also breaking into the world of fashion photography – one shoot at a time. For DASH Magazine’s current issue ‘Saturation’, Iouri shot a stunning editorial with AKRIS‘s Spring / Summer 2015 collection. On a chilly December afternoon, we sat down with him during the shoot for an interview.
Iouri, how’s your day been?
Very exciting I must say.
When was it you first discovered your talent for snowboarding?
I was always up against my brother in everything. He was stronger, older than me, a lot more talented and smarter in everything we did. But in snowboarding, I quickly just got better than him and that’s when I realised I was a talented snowboarder.
That motivated you to do more and more of it?
Going for Olympic gold is a difficult career choice, and many people never achieve their goal. Would you consider yourself brave to have chosen this path?
Well, I would love for someone to say that, but it’d feel weird to call myself that – like, “I’m a brave person.” There are a lot of Olympians that aren’t brave, but they still do it. Like with anything else in life, you can do something that is generally considered very brave, but do it completely wrong. It’s about the way you do it – that’s what makes the difference. I can’t really say of myself that I’m brave, as I want people to look at what I’m doing and then decide for themselves. In any case, it’s a very huge compliment for me.
Do you do connect with the feeling of being an Olympian at all?
Yeah, sure! I have dedicated my last fifteen years to that and I’m continuing to do so. I’ve claimed and said that my main focus is to go back there again. It’s so exciting!
Would you consider yourself more Russian or Swiss?
That’s always been my least favourite question, but I’m starting to like it more and more with time now. I’m the least patriotic person you can imagine because in every country I was always treated like a foreign person, and that includes Russia. The Russians would say that I’m Swiss and the Swiss would say I’m Russian, so I never complimented any of them because I’m kind of sensitive that way. If you’ve gone wrong with a comment about that, you can’t turn back. You cant be like, “Oh just because I’ve won now, you’re going to be nice to me.“ There’s not a single drop of Swiss blood in my body, and I will always answer it this way. My blood is 100% Russian and there’s no such thing as feeling Russian or Swiss; only the biological and physical aspect of me. I live in Switzerland; my friends are international. I really don’t like patriotism.
You’re now also breaking into photography. What is it that fascinates you about it to take time for it out of your busy schedule?
It comes from being photographed a lot and my passion for beautiful images. That’s the first thing that strikes me when looking at a magazine; images so beautiful that you want to be a part of it – you want to know what it is. I’m looking at snowboarding in a similar way, meaning that just looking at it doesn’t satisfy me. I have to be in it! It’s all about chasing that feeling. It gives me insane satisfaction!
How do snowboarding and photography go together for you?
Snowboarding and photography are both greatly concerned with technique and with how things are done. There’s a very important mechanism involved in taking pictures; you’ve got your camera. It’s almost like a weapon, you’re operating this machine.
What traits do you think a snowboarder needs to acquire to be professional?
Risk management. That’s the only thing you have to be good at. Then also courage.
Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist, or do you rather just go with it?
Definitely none of the two – I like imperfection. Being human means you always make mistakes.
Still or sparkling?
What are your plans for the future?
Plans for my future…? Doing more snowboarding first of all and keep progressing. As long as I’m moving forward, I will keep doing it. It’s like my religion. I’ve been so excited about today’s photo shoot because I’m progressing in photography. Oh, and I also want to be a good student.
Interview: Kaby Saikia