Markus Keller may not be a household name in the US, but back home in Switzerland he’s considered a national treasure. He’s a two-time Olympian and contest podium regular along with fellow country man and Vans Team Rider Iouri Podladtchikov, but Markus is as dangerous in the backcountry as he is in the halfpipe. From Alaska to the Swiss Alps, Markus throws down lines most riders can only dream of. While he’s graced the cover of many European snowboard magazines for years (and quite a few here in the states as well), Markus is far from a loud mouth braggadocio—instead he lets his powerful riding speak for itself. As part of the Pirates Movie Production crew, Markus has filmed for numerous videos over the years, including the latest Nitro team movie, “What Goes Up Must Come Down,” in addition to competing in TTR events throughout the season. We caught up with Markus over the weekend for a few laps in Keystone, Colorado’s A51 Terrain Park to see what he has in store this season.
First things first: where is home for you Markus?
Switzerland. I live in Zurich but I was living in Davos for seven years, so that’s still my home resort. But being based in Zurich is way easier now with airport travel and meetings. You’re very close to all the different areas. If you want to go to France, Italy or Austria, everything is like the same distance.
So how long have you been in America?
I came here to Colorado about ten days ago; really waited it out in Europe but nothing really happened, it looks like a desert… cactus growing. So I came over here to ride some and get ready for the season. I’m going to stay another week, so after that I should be ready and warmed up.
Who’s the crew that you normally ride with in Europe?
I ride a lot with my teammates from Nitro and Volcom like Mark Swobada and Thomas Fuerstein, but as I’m on different projects the crew changes all the time. But I actually really like the mix, and as I come over here I get to meet new people and join new crews and mix it up. I Pod and I used to be teammates on Volcom for a long time, but he recently switched to Quiksilver. We’re still teammates on Vans and Red Bull, but since he’s really just focusing on contests and I’m just focusing on filming, we’re not riding together that much anymore. Mostly just pre-season shredding, like right now here.
What are your big plans for the season?
I’m going to focus mostly on filming, as I got a few different projects. We got a movie project with Volcom, where I want to come over here and have some good days again like last year in Wyoming. And then we got another project with Nitro, we got a new concept for a team movie that we’re going to do over the whole season. And I got my own project with Red Bull that I’m going to realize only in Switzerland, so I will be waiting for good conditions and probably do that in March.
And you just came out with the new Nitro movie online for this season…
Yes, it just came out a few days ago on December 5th. It was really fun working on that, because it was kinda the first time that the whole team worked together on a movie. So far it was just collecting footage from different productions and everyone sent in their stuff. But this was the first season that we were all together working on it, and I’m looking forward to doing that again this year. And I’m pretty happy with how it came out. It wasn’t easy, cause we had a bad winter in Europe and came over to the States like three times to get some shots, but I think it came out pretty good.
Any contests you’re planning on doing this year?
There are not that many actually. I have the three different movie projects that I want to do, and whenever there is time besides that I’m going to do some events. I want to go to Olso for the quarterpipe invitational, so I want to do that because I haven’t ridden a big, nice quarterpipe in a while. And maybe X Games Europe if it works out with my schedule.
What boots are you riding right now?
Right now I’m riding the Matlock. I was always riding the Hi Standard, but I wanted to try the Boa system again, and I really like the Matlock, which I’ve been using for about two weeks now. I really like mix of the Boa and the Power Strap; I used to ride the Danny Kass with the power strap on top, so when I saw this one I really wanted to try it.
How long have you been riding for Vans?
I think we’re going to have a big anniversary next year. It’s nine years now I think, so it’s going to be ten years next season! My favorite thing about Vans is that it’s original. It’s been there all the time, with all different kinds of influences with how they started with surfing into skating, and then the snowboarding. Like I remember one time last season I went to L.A. and I needed some snowboard boots, but it was really late in the evening. Somebody gave me Steve [Van Doren]'s phone number and said, “Just call him, he’ll be there ‘til late.” So I called him and said, “Hey I’m sorry, I’m really late but I’m on my way.” He said, “Yeah no worries, I’ll just wait for you.” I mean, that’s the big boss! So stuff like that I really appreciate; it’s like one big family.