Our trip to Ylläs was scheduled to a perfect time for testing Ilahu boards. Those skinny beauty queens are designed for playful riding on powdery snow. We got two boards for testing from Jan Leutola, who is one of the creators of Ilahu.
Ilahu is a Rovaniemi based company and all the boards are designed and created here. Ilahu is a Finnish word that means "to rejoice". And so we did!
It snowed every night so we had new powder snow at daytime. Ilahu is just a wooden board with a little mat sticked on it. The purpose of the mat is to prevent your feet slipping when you're riding on it. So, no straps nor snowboard shoes are needed. We both used normal winter boots and they worked just well. The secret is to use a boot in which you can move your angle and control the board with the movement.
OK. So there are no straps, so the board might escape from you if you happen to loose your balance and fall off. That's why Ilahu boys recommended us to use a flexi type of dog leash to connect the body with the board. I've heard that all flexis are already sold out in Rovaniemi.
I find that funny.
I think snowsurfing (or whatever you want to call the activity) is more difficult than snowboarding but definitely more easy than original surfing. You don't have to wait a wave to come, just find a good spot of powdery snow. You also need to know a place where there is a downhill and only few trees. If you try to ride the board on icy or hard snow you can't make it turn – nor to stop!
We practiced using the boards by the side of the road between the villages of Ylläsjärvi and Äkäslompolo. There is a good, open spot just the opposite side of the parking area. Couple of other persons were testing similar boards from other brands at same time.
I think surfing on snow will be the winter activity of 2016 in here.
And why woudn't it? The boards are lightweight compared to normal ones. Ilahu weights only about two kilos. You only need the board and a good spot. At first the place doesn't need to be even high. It's a good exercise to hike up and ride down.
The other day we roped the boards to our backpacks and hiked up to Kesänkitunturi near Äkäslompolo to test the boards on backcountry. We needed to hike until there were no trees anymore as I felt insecure riding in between the trees. Anssi managed to do that well and that was slightly irritating.
Ilahu board store will open soon and the boards will be available for everyone. You know what? The idea of Ilahu made me very happy and they got all my support.
I think here in Finland many people still believe in old world view in which the only real investment is the one made in traditional industry. Despite all those believes we're heading to the system that consists of million little companies and self-employment. I also see that as a possibility to people to do more what they love and what makes them feel good. In many cases, those attempts also make the others feel good. The idea doesn't even have to be complicated. Sometimes a piece of wood and mat is enough – the secret is to put all of your ambition and good will into what you're doing.
In 2015 I read so many bad news that I occasionally felt it hard to think clearly. All that unemployment, racists making the loudest noise in social media and government hating education.
If I'd trust social media talkers I'd think that Finland is a terrible anti-welfare society in which everybody hates everybody and people has no future.
I think that's all bullshit.
All time I see more and more people connecting and leaving their jobs voluntarily in order to give a try to what they have been thinking could turn out to be something beautiful.
All of those brave people made my year. I hope to see more and more of them in 2016!