Meet Sven Thorgren - making waves in snowboarding at the age of 21

Sven competing at LAAX. Credit: GoPro

"It just gives you a crazy good feeling," might not be the most common answer when asked what it's like to fly through the air on a snowboard 30ft up, doing a few backflips as the Swiss Alps spin on the horizon.

"It's kind of addictive," says Sven Thorgren, the young Swede making waves in the snowboarding world.

At just 21 he has already competed in the Winter Olympics, narrowly missing out on a bronze medal in Sochi finishing fourth, and on the day we spoke to him he'd just finished first in the semi-final of perhaps the most prestigious snowboarding contest of them all - the LAAX Open.

"It was super cool to finish first today. It was the Backside 1440 stalefish that did it for me. Oh sorry - to explain that trick - it’s a backside rotation. So you go back first off the jump and then spin four times and do a grab that makes it look super cool."

Thorgren is pretty super cool himself, he strides into the interview that's taking place in a hotel in LAAX with a relaxed walk and a beaming, friendly smile.

But those traits are probably part and parcel when living the life of a pro-snowboarder.

"Ha, yeah. What can I say? It's the the best life out there," says Sven. "The whole thing has such a cool vibe and you can happily have a beer at the end of the day to relax and all the other competitors are really nice. We all support each other.

"It can be pretty hectic in the winter - we just have contest after contests. We pretty much ride one day then travel the next.

"Just now, we go from Laax to the US, back to Europe then to Sweden, then back to the US and then to China. There’s no break, it’s kinda crazy but such a fun life, super fun."

The views aren't bad. Credit: GoPro

The problem with your sport only being available on snow means it's a crammed winter- but when there is no snow in the summer months it sounds like life is pretty relaxing.

"I hang out at my summer place in Sweden. I mean, I train five days a week during the summer - obviously there’s no snow so I go running, go to the gym, go skateboarding - pretty much every boarder I know is good at skating too."

Living half your life in mountain resorts with the cleanest air and some of the most breathtaking views available doesn't sound too bad, but how do you get to be a pro-boarder?

"I started when I was 7 on a family holiday but then, ah man I got so lucky. I was just riding by myself in a ski resort in Sweden when I was 12 and a guy who was a former pro just saw me riding and came over to tell me ‘hey dude, how would you like to be sponsored?’

"It was a super windy day where you usually don’t ride the big jumps. But I thought I’d give it a go and I was the only one riding them - pretty stupid at the time I guess but hey, it paid off! That totally caught his attention and really motivated me to reach the top."

Thorgren is currently number six in the world. Credit: GoPro

And reach the top he has - the young Swede is currently number six in the world slopestyle rankings, finished first at the Aspen X-Games in 2015 and has just joined up with GoPro as one of their athletes.

But even just watching the competition puts you on edge - every time a boarder launches themselves not only high into the air but then performs tricks - it's evident straight away that this sport takes some serious courage.

"Well, I guess that’s where adrenaline kicks in," says Sven. "It’s kinda addictive - that’s where you push your limits and every time you do it and succeed that’s like a crazily good feeling."

"I think people that watch it and don’t know that much about snowboarding might see it as dangerous but actually we have to work so hard day-in-day-out to make sure that we are safe too and know exactly what we’re doing."

It takes a certain type of attitude to do what Sven does but in five years of pro riding the worst injury he's picked up is a dislocated shoulder - which only kept him out for two weeks.

It looks dangerous - but these guys really know what they're doing.

Expect to see Sven at the next Winter Olympics and perhaps this time on the podium if he keeps his cool - but that’s a given.