Poster Child for Positivity – the Pro Snowboarder Rene Rinnekangas
”Rene will make it to the Olympic games”
If you’ll start snowboarding at the age of four there is a great chance that you’ll make it to the Olympic games at further point in your life. That’s how I thought and said aloud when my 14 years old younger cousin Rene Rinnekangas hit the slopes for the first time and was a local matter of wonder on his first daily paper article where he was posing with his miniature snowboard.
Since then there has been a punch of articles about the young dude who has made his name already. Funnily enough, there is actually the word “slope” in Rene’s family name. You could say the name is an omen here! But despite the track record I think that the reporters simply want to interview my humble, kind and cheerful cousin just because it is just so good to be around him. His honest big smile sticks to you immediately! I think this young man can be a role model for the whole world: great things happen when you keep positive! That is why, I’m so glad and proud that Rene is actually going to the South Korean Winter Olympic Games as soon as it’s possible and that he will represent his genuine happy self there!
An extreme joy of life
Let’s go back in time. Positivity, satisfaction and joy often mean life wisdom and gratitude. When Rene was a newborn baby his dad, my uncle Ape fell on the yard of our family company. The ambulance speed the man around my age (early thirty) to the hospital due to a stroke. Those were serious times but Ape fought. He knew that he was supposed to be there for his two sons; that he should be there to take care of them and take them to the slopes some years later together with mum Leena. Ape needed to be there telling his jokes so that the boys could become just as good or bad with their jokes!
Rene followed his five years older brother Riko and cousin Nanette to the slopes immediately. I remember that the whole family got excited about snowboarding and was riding on a snowboard at some point. What I thought was funny was little Rene who came to my swimming school around the same years he had started snowboarding. He was so afraid of this liquid version of snow that he was screaming in the shower already! But soon just like that he got the idea – he got enthusiastic and learned how to swim after five half an hour sets! I noticed he was special.
When you get really excited about something the power of it becomes enormous! Rene took over snowboarding early and the passion for the sport but also the number of repetitions has played its part. This is what Rene is telling me when I ask his feelings about the fact that he started in the small two slopes Paloisvuori in our hometown Iisalmi and is now heading to the Olympic games: “It feels quite crazy but on the other hand I think it has been just great that I’m coming from here, the small slopes gave a lot of repetitions during the day and that has been only good. You don’t need big jumps in the beginning.” Rene says he didn’t like competing at first when he tried it out when he was less than ten years old but just a bit later he noticed it could be fun when you just don’t take it too seriously.
Not a regular lifestyle – the high school kid that goes around the world
A great thing for professional training is also the fact that the Vuokatti sports high school where Rene is studying on a snowboarding program is quite close to the hometown – thus it was a natural choice. There are not too many days though when the student is at school because most of the time Rene is somewhere in the world – either in the competitions, snowboarding team trips or on the Finnish national team camps. Luckily the school is made for this: to support the young guns that try their best to find the time to learn a bit dull subjects too.
Besides school and pro snowboarding there is also the film shooting stuff of Rene’s street snowboarding crew – 292 CREW – as well as there is skateboarding and a fresh band with a recording contract! Yep. You read correct. Rene and his brother Riko and some friends managed to get a recording contract just by a coincidence and with a good luck. Riko had just made the very first single together with his roommate and their friend was mixing it in his traineeship record studio in Helsinki while a studio boss walked by and liked what he heard. That’s how things started rolling and there is a band called Kätfish (= Catfish) now! What is actually funny, Rene plays guitar for real but in the band he plays bass. Maybe because he can’t join every gig – but that’s when they’ll find someone to replace him. If that’s even possible, if you know what I mean.
Creative and charismatic by his nature!
Whatever Rene is doing that looks very charming and natural. Whether its his presence on the Kätfish music video or happy mood in the interviews. I think this is charisma. Rene seems like a humble star that is shining without realising it. If dad is a storyteller, mum an actress and brother a singer songwriter – what else than a great show can you expect from the youngest family member!
Most importantly you can see Rene’s unique style in snowboarding. These circles all around the world have noticed the newcomer Rinnekangas. Just about a month ago Rene won the well-respected Dew Tour competition pipe run. And the funny part is the video commenting his ride! The commentators are going through Rene’s ride but soon they don’t know what to tell! “I need to look that again,” the other man says and is carried away by the talent!
Also the international Onboard Magazine’s European Riders of the year article and the different referees there are praising Rene’s funny style and that this “Finnish slayer is never shy of getting creative.” True words! You can see Rene’s personal touch everywhere; on the board in the competitions and streets, in the interviews, on a podium and on his Instagram!
The Bachelor – Rene’s nickname in the game!
JR Rinnekangas, Monsieur Rene, The Bachelor! On the channels mentioned above you can notice many nicks Rene has got. Some fan girls might be interested in the Bachelor name. Obviously it tells there are the chances to catch up with this guy – but how the heck Rene got this nick?! “Because I am a Bachelor, girls call me”, Rene says with his funny Finnish accent and starts laughing. “No but, probably it started once when we were at this chilled Vappulounas Mayday snowboarding event and had this conversation that I’m already 13 and still a bachelor. Dad has taught me that I should be running after women immediately but I haven’t really started yet.”
It’s easy to understand the funny nicknames and fun stuff amongst the snowboarders because this sport and the fellas seem so relaxed and happy. But how can it be? How do the snowboarders support each other so and have such a team spirit? “Even it’s a real sport I guess it’s not that competitive”, Rene says. “Even we are competing against each others we are also spending a lot of time together and riding together. That’s the biggest point to go snowboarding together and to have fun. So the biggest thing is not your own performance but the good times together.”
Don’t follow the white rabbit. Follow these trousers and some magic tricks will happen!
When we were shooting the interview video at Rene’s home slope at Paloisvuori I told Rene he’s a genius – because he is often wearing those beige trousers with brown knee patches and it is so easy to recognise him! “Those are Rene Rinnekangas branded trousers, no washing, always just have them so we can find you on the clips of the top snowboarders of the world”, I told him! Well maybe we start recognising his personal style already or at least will notice the famous happy grin – the “stoked” face if you want to use the snowboarding slang.
It might be so that there are no Rene Rinnekangas branded trousers in the official Olympic games but whatever pants miracles will happen! So make sure to follow this dude’s career and absorb the energy from him! I hope that Rene is the poster child for positivity not only for me but also for many others.
Watch the interview video too; it’s in Finnish but with English subtitles. I am going to the Olympic games and will be reporting from there – so make sure to follow Whattawowworld on Instagram! Cheers!
The portraits of Rene: Anni Hartikainen aka @anni.jpeg (Anni also filmed the video interview) Thank You Anni!
I also want to thank dear Antti who helped me with the subtitles!
PS. This was a great piece of work, so please share, cheers!
Whattawowperson is a recurring set of articles, where I’m giving this honorary title to a wonderful person that I respect and that lives exceptionally in this world. I also share her/his story shortly.