Lena Stoffel Interview
Lena Stoffel is a gem of a human. A softly spoken, humble, creative and gentle ninja. She rips on skis, a snowboard, and a surfboard. Here at Still Stoked, we are fortunate enough to call her a dear friend, a ski and surf partner, and our main wing-girl of the Japanese skin-track and onsen routine! Always up for an adventure or a coffee at Gentemstick (the snowboard she is slowly swapping her skis for!), this Roxy girl embodies pure stoke and an infectious drive for fun and adventure. We adore her!
Just earlier this year, she released her beautiful and incredibly well-received short film “Winter Fox” about her love of Japan where she spends a solid stint each winter. She has also made films skiing and surfing in Norway and Hokkaido Japan, called ‘WAY NORTH“ and “WAY EAST“. Not just a talented athlete, she is has a creative streak that sees her behind the camera almost as much as she is in front of it.
Lena was raised on skis in her native Germany and arguably got a jump start on everyone else in her ability to forge a career on the slopes. She cut her teeth as a ski racer, with wins at the German Junior Championships in slalom at just 17 years old. That comfort with speed translated to slopestyle and freestyle skiing at a much later age than her fellow competitors. But age is just a number and this ripper made an appearance at the X-Games amongst other high-profile international competitions.
Just have to be confident and focused, then everything works out well.
A career in skiing wouldn’t be complete with old the tales of injury and even multi-talented Lena couldn’t escape that dreaded roll of the dice. When an injury forced her to give up competition she chose to look at it as an opportunity to do more of what she loved – combining freeskiing and creativity. Now she spends her days blasting through powder as well as exploring different narratives through photography, filmmaking and of course surfing (Still Stoked recently went on a surf trip to the Maldives with Lena). Although she admits life as a pro skier outside of the competitive circuit is a tough business, she can’t complain because she’s living her dream!
Talking Story with Lena Stoffel
#1 So tell us, who is Lena Stoffel?
I have been a skier since I can remember. Born in the south of Germany, but I have lived in Innsbruck, Austria for almost 14 years now. I studied physical education, “sports therapy”, here in Innsbruck and got stuck. I competed on an international level in alpine racing, slopestyle skiing and free riding. After two big knee injuries I stopped competing and now I am doing what I love the most. I ski powder and follow my passion for photography and filming. In the last couple of years, I have been doing photo and movie projects. [These projects were] my own projects as well as projects for my sponsors. I am known for being a really versatile skier. I do it all. Also, I love all other board sports. I love surfing and I just got into Snowboarding or “snow surfing” as well. I love it.
Watch Way East – Multi-day ski tour from Niskeo to the ocean, then surfing and skiing up Rishiri Island (north of Hokkaido)
#2 What is the most common misconception about your job, lifestyle, or life?
I guess everyone thinks I am on constant holidays. But turning your passion into a job and also being self-employed means a lot of work. It means I put quite a lot of pressure on myself. I don’t complain because I am living my dream and I am still dreaming further.
#3 Do you have any quotes you live your life by or think of often?
You only live once!
#4 What is the best advice you have ever been given and who gave it to you?
I often think of a friend who told me once “Just have to be confident and focused, then everything works out well.” I tell myself those two words when I am nervous about something.
#5 Tell us about a moment in your life where you were pushed to your limits and forced to grow. What important lessons did you learn along the way?
Spontaneously, I remember the adventure we had while filming our movie “WAY EAST“. We did a snow camping traverse over a mountain range in Japan to the ocean. It took us a couple of days. It was cold and exhausting. But at one point it was the point of no return. We had to go through, fight through. I didn’t think I could actually cope with almost no sleep, being cold and tired, and still keep going. I was really calm though and focused, I guess and confident most of the time. After the mission, I was surprised at how much my body actually can cope with.
I love cold water surfing! The scenery and the whole vibe around it is really cool. You feel alive for sure!!!
#6 What is your advice for people cold water surfing, do you have any tips?
I just came back from Norway and I have a few tips. Your wetsuit should be good quality, in a good state of repair and fit the right size. The booties and gloves are really important as feet and hands get cold the quickest. It is really helpful to be able to change inside somewhere rather than out in the snow! Otherwise in the car is good too. Always bring warm tea for sure. Then when you get out of the water, to change in a van or somewhere inside, that is ideal. Otherwise, bring wool first layers and very warm and comfortable clothes so you get warm quicker. And have good warm and healthy food!! I love cold water surfing! The scenery and the whole vibe around it is really cool. You feel alive for sure!!!
#7 what is it exactly that you love about Japan?
This is a really hard question, as I can’t really explain it! It has something so peaceful and quiet and I love the really unique culture which you also can’t really explain. I guess I have only been to the north island Hokkaido so far… but I think it is maybe the simple perfection which is in everything. The food, the crafts, the architecture etc. And the connection to nature I feel is a really big part in it as well.
#8 What advice would you give to your younger self?
Worry less!! I would still give that advice to me [now] HA!
#9 Where do you seek inspiration when you get low or need to find motivation?
In nature and surrounded by people I love!
Kamui Mintara with Lena Stoffel – a film that captures Japan, beautifully
#10 Who’s your biggest female inspiration and why?
Many women who inspire me. In our scene, the world of outdoor extreme sports, women have to be really strong in their own way and it’s a really tough business. But for sure I had a few women who inspired me to do what I do now. Seeing Sarah Burke doing her thing and doing so much for freeskiing in general but also obviously, she did a lot for women in skiing and that inspired me a lot. Also, the way she did everything. With a lot of love, style, and in a very humble way! I met Sarah at my first X Games and I was sharing a room with Torah Bright and her. For that one reason, I was the happiest person. Both of those girls are so lovely and treated me likewise. It really helped me through my first big competition.
#11 What does your morning routine look like?
I love coffee! So first thing in the morning needs to be a good coffee. Also, I started doing my own muesli and I love it. It’s with only coconut and nuts! It’s really easy to make and it’s a perfect start into the day for me.
#12 What do you when you feel overwhelmed or unfocused?
For me, training and sports are always a good way to feel strong and focused again. So I try to go training or to the mountains on a hike, skiing or surfing.
#13 What diet works for you?
Diet for me means when I am doing periods of no sugar. Or I always try and reduce bad sugars and eat healthy. A lot of vegetables. I try and not use any supplements.
#14 What are your can’t live without beauty, fashion or lifestyle items?
I love a good beanie.
#15 What are you positively vibing on at the moment?
I love the podcast “Looking Sideways” by British snowboarder Matt Barr. It features prominent people in action sports and they full of really good chats and inspiration related to all the things I love. My favourites are the one with Neil McNab and also the one with Travis Rice was really good. I also listened to Shauna Coxsey’s podcast, “Positivity is a choice”. That was really inspiring coming from a woman in climbing. Climbing is a sport which is really fascinating and inspiring.
#16 What photographers, designers, or artists inspire you and why?
I am always inspired by the movie “The Dark Side of the Lens” by Mikey Smith. Also inspired by Jimmy Chin. He is a photographer, filmmaker, professional climber and skier. He is just touring with his new movie “Free Solo“. I met him once when he shot a Roxy Campaign. He is a really inspiring person.
The Dark Side Of The Lens – Micky Smith
#17 What is it like being part of the Roxy family?
I am really proud to be part of this team as it’s an honor to be part of a community of women across a lot of different disciplines. Women of the mountains and the waves, and they are all really unique characters as well as being some of the strongest women in their sport. Probably all those girls are my biggest inspiration, even before I was on the Roxy team, they inspired me: Sarah Burke, Torah Bright, Andrea Binning. In the surfing world its Steph Gilmore and Bianca, Kelia Moniz… all those girls. And to be one of them is amazing! Trips are always very fun with those girls and cheering for them on their projects and competitions is the best!
#18 What is your favourite book or the book you recommend the most?
I love the book Shantaram
[Snowboarding] changes the skier in me as I may see terrain a bit different and can translate it to my skiing as well, which is really fun to do!
#19 You just started snowboarding, what is different for you about snowboarding than skiing?
For me, snowboarding is a bit like surfing. It feels similar and I can do it on snow in the mountains, in an element which is more familiar to me than the ocean. It brings a really new and exciting approach to the mountain for me and I learn so much every day that I am out there on a snowboard. It’s a new challenge and I really, really enjoy it!! It brings something I have with surfing… a different passion to the mountain. And I think it also changes the skier in me as I may see terrain a bit different and can translate it to my skiing as well, which is really fun to do!
#20 Where can we find more from you?
You can get in touch with me through my website Lena-Stoffel.com or on the socials:
Facebook: Lena Stoffel
Thanks Lena! Keep showing us all how to live our dreams!