Rene Rinnekangas—Snowboarding’s International Am of Mystery

p: Tatu Toivanen
p: Tatu Toivanen

Rene Rinnekangas--The International Am of Mystery

Seemingly out of nowhere, Rene has quickly rose to fame. Our first intro to Rene Rinnekangas came after the Finnish 292Crew dropped a video at the beginning of last season that left a solid impression on the staff. Shortly after, a press release from Rome announcing their latest addition to the International Am program put Rene on the forefront of our foreheads yet again. Cut to the solid finishes at last season’s Dew Tour and comp circuit--where we would hear “yip, yip!” or some form of joyous scream every time Rene flew over us standing on the deck--and consider our interest in the newest face in Finnish snowboarding peaked. The 18-year-old is like the energizer bunny with a bigger smile. From am to the Olympics in one season, he has become some of our favorite snowboarder’s favorite snowboarder.

In-between taking his moped for a spin this offseason, Rene hopped on his computer to answer a few of our questions about his whirlwind of a winter.

What a year, congrats bud! How does it feel to be one of the breakout stars this season?
Thank you soo much!! It feels really good! It has been hell of a year and really happy that I got a chance to meet great people, shred with such a good riders and be a part of so many nice contests and film projects!

How did you get into snowboarding? What was your first board?
I started snowboarding when I was four because of my brother. He started first and I just had to start snowboarding too. Can’t really remember those days, haha, but I’m really glad we started. My very first board was a Crazy Creek 90cm tall and I didn’t have snowboard boots at first. It was really hard to find good size for me and I rode with some super soft winter boots for a while but then we found a real boots that were also Crazy Creek.

Rene Rinnekangas during his winning pipe run at Dew Tour. p: Mike Yoshida

Any highlights?
The Dew Tour was definitely my highlight. I was so happy to get my first invite. I didn’t expect that… especially in halfpipe. I was super nervous for the contest for sure because I didn’t ride that much pipe before it. Thanks for the best times Rome SDS and Dew Tour!

We would agree with that one. You beat Danny Davis in the pipe at Dew Tour!
Already riding with Danny and other unbelievable riders was a win for me. Still can’t believe what went down there. I was really nervous before the contest because I can’t do any Yolo flips, so I was hoping to find some of my own twist for my run and I was lucky enough to find some different lines.

Is this year the most you have ever traveled?
Yes, it has been pretty busy year and I’m happy that I got a chance to travel to some insane places with awesome people. My favorite place was probably Perisher in Australia. I really like the environment and the fast laps. Tons of features and usually no traffic. Can’t wait to go back there this fall.

No matter what you are hitting or doing, you always have a huge smile on your face… what do you contribute all that happiness to?
Thank you! I don’t really know. I guess it has always been a part of me and I’m just trying to enjoy every day as much as possible. Can’t really complain with what we are doing, traveling around the world to find snow and having good times.

The international am of mystery. p: Mike Yoshida

We have seen you in comps, and filming in the streets. Which do you like better?
Ahh, this is a hard one. Honestly I can’t pick one or the other, love to do both. I think It’s nice to ride park, pipe, street, powder and whatever you can find. I really look up to those riders who can ride everything.

We also notice you always wear a helmet. When did that start? Thoughts on helmets in snowboarding?
Yes, I think its good habit that I stuck with from the start. I think it’s everyone’s own decision to wear it or not.

How was your Olympic experience?
It was really nice experience. We had a good time out there, for sure. Of course a little bad memory because I broke my wrist, but it’s part of the game. I was lucky to not have surgery so I was able to compete in big air as well.

When on Rome. p: Clavin

How about coming back from injury this season?
The Olympics was my first real injury and of course it sucked haha. Thank god it was just a wrist and I was able to continue snowboarding almost right away. Getting back on my snowboard felt really good even though I took only one week off. The first few days, I was wearing a sock on my hand because the cast was too big for the normal glove.

Even with a broken wrist, Rene is smiling and waving to the crowd. p: Clavin

Being from Finland, who do you look up to in snowboarding?
When I was a kid, I definitely looked up to my older brother Riko. He has inspired me so much. As far as pros, I have always looked up to Halldor Helgason, Alek Oestreng… and as far as Finnish riders, I look up to Eero Ettala and Peetu Piiroinen.

Who did you ride with for most of the season?
I ride most with the Finnish team. Also spent some time filming streets with friends, our Finnish Crew 292 and couple trips with the Method Mag guys.

Where do you want to go next in snowboarding?
I would love to go back to Japan. Ride some backcountry and do some filming there. I’ve never filmed backcountry and I know it’s super challenging, but I’m sure it would be a great experience.

What about where you are going next on your moped?
Haha, a few trips. At least the same skate/golf trip that I did last summer. Drove 2 hours to play golf and skate to different town. Would be sick to do a little longer trip, maybe to Helsinki some day (12 hour drive). I was just in a taxi with my moped, that was a really nice experience too, haha.

We heard you are in a band, how is that going?
Yep! Playing bass in my brothers a band is really fun! My brother Riko started the band over a year ago, it’s called KÄTFISH. We are making punk rock with humorous lyrics. You can find some songs on Spotify or Youtube.

We found him it on Youtube with minimal digging.

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