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Rovanperä and Ettala on their two sporting worlds colliding at 80kmh.
Both Kalle Rovanperä and Eero Ettala are no strangers to travelling fast on snow and ice.But in an added twist, snowboarder Ettala raised the speed stakes by travelling while hanging onto the rally car of WRC driver Rovanperä in Kuusamo, Finnish Lapland. After their adventure, the pair talked about the challengings of such an undertaking.
You’ve both been involved in all sorts of projects in the past, have you ever experienced anything similar to this?
Rovanperä: “Yes, I have been part of many different types of project but nothing like this before.”
Ettala: “I do remember when I was younger that sometimes we got some speed for rails and hand rails by hanging onto a car when filming in the streets. But obviously hanging onto a rally car on an ice track is a whole different ball game.”
When the speed of the car goes up to 80kmh, is it challenging to control the board but also the driver needs to be alert of quite a few things?
Rovanperä: “The movements needed to be quite soft and controlled. I had to focus on avoiding any sudden or extra moves. Also, timing had its own challenges.
Ettala: “The first challenge was the flat surroundings. I’m more used to driving on hilly tracks. Despite the flatness, we managed to accomplish some really cool stuff, like the rainbow rail. It was of course scary at first to be hanging onto a rally car. I was afraid that Kalle would speed up to 200km/h and I’d lose my arm. In the end, it was more scary to be hanging from the window, being constantly aware that I need to keep my board’s nose far enough from the tyre.”
There’s also one scene where you’re placed on the roof of the car. How did it feel filming that and how was the board fixed onto the rooftop?
Ettala: “It was actually one of the most pulse-racing scenes. I think that if I had been there on skis, the balance would have felt more secure – snowboard boots do give in quite a bit, after all. The board was bolted onto the roof and then we began slowly testing the set up on different speeds. Once the confidence grew, the speed got faster.”
Ice as a base does not give the same grip as snow does and this was a challenge both our athletes had to conquer. What kind of equipment was needed and was maintenance needed?
Ettala: “I made a tactical move and used a brand-new board. The edges were sharp and the base was smooth. Ice can be quite a challenging base as the edge doesn’t bite onto it quite the same as it does on snow. This was obvious after a day of filming when you could see how much ice eats up the waxing. Then again, it only takes about 10 minutes for me to fix my board so there’s no need for a rally team to do it for me, even though it might save a bit of time.
Rovanperä: “My choice for today’s driving challenge was the Monte Carlo spikes. We didn’t want to have too much grip, which would have been an issue with rally spikes in some scenes we filmed. Driving a rally car on an ice track can be described as some sort of dancing. You can just drive and do pretty much what you want. And when comes to maintenance, I will still keep my own team even if Eero was quicker this time. There’s so little time and so many parts to check that it’s really the only way to go.
Kalle, you ski/snowboard sometimes, and Eero, you’re no stranger to being behind the wheel. Are you happy to stick to your day jobs?
Ettala: “It’s crazy how well a rally car can be controlled. It was amazing to get to sit in the same car with Kalle and see him drive. The jumps we did were mind-blowing. I managed to not pee my pants and keep my nerves in check though, despite the excitement. If I had been behind the wheel, I would have been able to drive, sure, but would definitely have skipped that jump.”
Rovanperä: “Eero’s riding looked incredibly cool and it was super fun to be able to witness it with my own eyes. My snowboarding skills would fall short very quickly, trying to do what he does. And when it comes to Eero’s car riding, I think I could join him in a regular car but would pass a rally car drive.”