ELIAS ELHARDT ON INVESTING IN MULTIPLE PASSIONS
Elias Elhardt has been a professional snowboarder for the last 10 years participating in the X Games along with numerous slopestyle and backcountry snowboarding contests. But Elias’ career is not just limited to snowboarding, he is also a filmmaker. He started to be featured in Snowboard Films, which featured segments of his best runs of the season. Later on, this evolved into the creation of multiple films including his film with GoPro, Behind Dark Matter, CONTRADDICTION and NARCIS. The focus of these films has shifted away from the pure action focus of snowboarding to utilizing it as a vehicle to tell meaningful stories.
“How can a future be built if the past ways so heavily?” - Hamdi Hisari
In Elias’ film NARCIS, he visited the former Yugoslavia that was torn apart by the Bosnian civil war. While in Yugoslavia, Elias found a very small town called Kosovo, which is an area that still sees ethical and territorial conflicts today resulting from a war that was over 20 years ago. It appears that the town hasn’t seen much change since the war, still filled with abandoned hotels, ski lifts, and a small ski resort called Brezovica, which later became the centerpiece of NARCIS. Elias wanted to create a snowboarding film that was truly meaningful and genuine. He felt that the way the two sides, the Albanians and Serbians, wanted to move on from their past and rebuild an abandoned place for their mutual interests in Wintersports and the tourism that comes with it, had an important message within. During his time in this small village, Elias met a man and snowboarding enthusiast named Hamdi Hisari, who introduced him to the resort and the people of the town. Hamdi posed a question that became an underlying theme for the film. He asked, “How can a future be built if the past weighs so heavily?” Elias shared how along the journey to the town each house and businesses they drove buy had a flag on it, which identified these people based on their side of the conflict. However, when he they arrived to the ski resort and ascended into the mountain, there were no flags to be seen and the dividing tensions seem to melt away. Through the process of making this film, Elias got to experience and highlight the story of how the divided group of people work together, through their common interest of wintersport, to restore an abandoned town and to create a new exciting destination for people to visit. This concept of overcoming the past and being able to move forward and build a better future still carries a very important weight in many instances. We must take this message with us always as we progress in life. If you want to check out Elias’ film, NARCIS, it is linked here.
“[In snowboarding] there was a lot more liberty, a lot more emphasis on the joy of movement. Just jumping around finding different ways to play with the mountain.” - Elias Elhardt
Before Elias became a filmmaker, he began skiing at a very early age. Growing up on a mountain, he was around snow for as long as he can remember. While he started skiing and skateboarding with friends at a young age, this eventually gave way to Elias discovering his passion for snowboarding at the age of 10. Even though he was already involved in ski clubs, Elias felt like with snowboarding “there was a lot more liberty, a lot more emphasis on the joy of movement. Just jumping around finding different ways to play with the mountain.” This feeling of freedom is ultimately what led him to dedicate all his time to this sport for the years to come.
“It’s a constant battle to recalibrate where you want to go and what makes sense to you.” - Elias Elhardt
Although Elias always dreamed of becoming a professional snowboarder, he also had different interests along the way. Two of those matters being photography and psychology. Often his other interests phased out as snowboarding did not allow much time for investment in other areas. Elias explains how it is important to constantly reassess your passions and to find what you can do and what can fit in your life. He says, “It’s a constant battle to recalibrate where you want to go and what makes sense to you.” For Elias, since he was a snowboarder, he was able to also follow his childhood interests, photography and psychology, by making films that show cultural and societal impacts, all while still focusing on his main craft. In the same way, Elias discussed how it is essential that people make wise decisions about how they end up spending most of their time. He explains how this was always a significant factor in his decisions. “What has always been important to me, is to listen to where my heart is really at and try to implement that into the path that I’m already on.”
“Take the capabilities and knowledge that you’ve gained from one field and evolve it into something else.” - Elias Elhardt
Elias is a big advocate for continuing to transform the knowledge he has acquired from past experiences into skills that can support his future interests, even if they seem to be unrelated. He says, “Take the capabilities and knowledge that you’ve gained from one field and evolve it into something else.” It is hard to get stuck on one endeavor in life for too long because, with the way the world works, things are always evolving. Elias has lived by this philosophy throughout different stages of his career, especially during times of struggle and setbacks. With snowboarding, some seasons come with success and other seasons can bring failure or injury. One year while Elias was injured, he decided to start a snowboarding camp completely from scratch. It turns out that this camp turned into an ongoing business that still exists today. While he was injured, he spent his time writing out the concept for the camp, finding people to run the logistics of the camp, and hashing out the details to turn this the plan into a reality. Elias shares that without the injury, this camp would not exist today. He often remarks, “There’s never really any empty space, there’s just room for something else.” This resourceful yet driven attitude is definitely something that we can all take away from Elias and his journey.
Thanks for taking the time to share your story Elias! If you want to follow along with his journey, check out his Instagram. Elias’ films CONTRADDICTION, NARCIS, and his film with GoPro, Behind Dark Matter are also linked below. Enjoy!
Elias' Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eliaselhardt/
Behind Dark Matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OMar04NRZw&t=5s
Written By: Anna Rice & Jason Crowe
Interview By: Jason Crowe