Dušan is a professional snowboarder and mental coach. He is one of the few Czechs who has reached the world level in freestyle snowboarding. He is a member of a well-known film production, Rusty Toothbrush, with whom he recently filmed a new movie called Two Vans No Plans. The movie is already online and you can watch it in this article. We talked about the mentioned film, about how he got from competitive skiing to making snowboard films, and also about his second profession, about mental coaching.
Two Vans No Plans full movie
Hi Dušan, how are you? How was your summer?
I have to say that I'm really great and I had an even better summer. I spent a month and a half in the mountains, in the snow, which was absolutely amazing. We have already had the first premieres of our new film Two Vans No Plans in France, Switzerland and Italy. We shot some new edits in Zermatt, which was also great. I was preparing for the next season, I trained a lot and I spent time with friends that I hadn't seen all last winter.
How did you actually get into snowboarding? You come from a ski family, your mother even won a bronze medal at the Olympics in Sarajevo, your sister took part in two Olympics and you also competed in skiing first.
As a five-year-old, I was going through a catalog of ski and snowboard equipment distributed by my parents in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and I saw the "one ski" there. I didn't know what it was at all, but I liked it. However, no one in the family snowboarded, so I had to learn it myself. Since then, I used to ride on a board in my free time between my trainings. When I was about 10 years old, for the first time I decided to exchange my skis for a snowboard for the whole day. I went to the snow park, where I tried boxes and rails. At about 13, I met Zdenda Volech, the coach of the BSS School in Špindl, where the team at that time included Ben Cristovao, Láďa Polívka, Ester Ledecká, Jonáš Ledecký and Martinka Němcová. I got on that team and that's when Zdenda told me that if I spent the same amount of time on snowboard as on skis, I could be where Shaun White was then. He must have been joking about that Shaun, but it kinda sticked with me and I told him I'd go for it. It was worse to tell my mum, that I no longer wanted to ski, but to snowboard. I was very scared of it, but her answer was fine, but do it at the best level you possibly can. So I switched from skiing to snowboarding and started doing it to the fullest. Just like skiing before.
So your parents weren't disappointed that you were leaving 4 edges and starting with snowboarding?
They were not disappointed, now I perceive that their vision was to teach us the love for the mountains, nature and sport in general. And when they saw our last movie, they told me it was unreal to them, because I was doing what they used to watch with their mouths open in commercial videos in their business. So I really hope I met their expectations a bit.
So you immediately started snowboarding in competitions? Was it slopstyle?
As I mentioned, I joined Zdeno Volech's team and started competing with them almost immediately. It was slopestyle and it was common for 50-60 people to be on the starting line every weekend. I didn't even know how to do the snowboarding any other way. I switched from a competitive ski environment to a snowboard one, so I also automatically started competing. I didn't know I could do it any other way. And the whole thing led me to going on more and more competitions, until I finally got to the point where I was only dealing with where we would go to the competotion, or if I would have the money for it, how many points I needed to get for other ones and so on. So, paradoxically, I got into the exact same cycle as when I was skiing.
When did you get to the point when you said there was enough of competitions, I want to do it differently and start focusing on filming snowboard videos?
The idea has been there for a long time. I knew all along that I wanted to shoot in the future, but I still had the idea that I wanted to go to the Olympics. It would be a nice 'thank you' to my parents for what they invested in me in terms of time and money, but at the same time I wanted to go there myself, as my mother and sister were there. But in my last competition season, when I tried for the Olympics and when I did my best for it, there was a misunderstanding. I thought I got the World Cup spot, but in the end it turned out that I didn't. It was something I could no longer influence myself. In the meantime, I started working with a mental coach, and as we discussed the fact that I was sad about it and so on, he asked me one basic question. That was - why I started snowboarding. And that threw me back into the position of a 13-year-old boy who was deciding whether to ski or snowboard. It reminded me that I decided to snowboard because I wanted to have the freedom, have fun, be in the mountains with friends and shoot videos. Suddenly I was in a circle of points, numbers and strategy again, and snowboarding started to disgust me. I realized that if I wanted to keep doing the sport and love it, this had to end. So, in 2016, I ended my competitive career. A few months later, Marty Večerka from Freeride.cz told me that a new Czech film, Never Too Late Movie, would be being shot and if I would like to be a part of it. It came in the right time and probably not by chance.
You had your first part in Never Too Late Movie after you decided to stop competing and start shooting videos. And you got an ender right there.
Yes, as you say, it was my first part and I knew that if I wanted to show up, it needed to be there. I mainly switched to shooting from the competition season, when I was in a very good shape. I had a mental coach and a fitness trainer, so I had a 100% preparation. So I went to Never Too Late Movie with the mindset that I would do my best there. Because if I wanted to continue, I had to. And fortunately it turned out well, I got an ender there, which then led me further on again.
Your next part was in the movie Poveri Noi by Rusty Toothbrush and you had an ender there again. Can you tell us more about that?
During the filming of Never Too Late Movie, Horsefeathers approached me for a collaboration and I started to ride for them. And as part of that, I was invited to a Sales meeting in Monínec, where coincidentally there were also guys from Rusty Toothbrush. A snowpark was built there, we rode there together and then the guys and I just chatted, and they mentioned that it would be great if I went to shoot with them. It actually works in such a way, that a brand that sponsores the rider has to pay for their rider to be in the film, because the productions also have to live from something. So when Horsefeathers told me they would pay for it, it was nothing to think about. I immediately agreed, and in February 2018 I started shooting my second videopart with the guys from Rusty Toothbrush in the movie Poveri Noi. And I got an ender again, for which I am super grateful.
Let's move on to the main topic. This year a new film was released from the Rusty Toothbursh production - Two Vans No Plans, in which you have your part again. The concept of this film is that you packed two vans and went on a road trip around Italy. How was it?
It was the idea of Alex from Rusty Toothbrush. At that time, he was already living in the van with his girlfriend and he had a vision that we would all buy vans, drive in them around the mountains and shoot. And so, because of this project, he bought a second van, from 1984. And that did actually start writing the whole story of the film on its own. For four months we lived in two vans, in any weather, even in - 20. And it was great. Living in a van is a guaranteed recipe for experiences. It was no longer just that we came somewhere in the mountains, stayed in a guesthouse and snowboard. It was already about not starting the car, a need to fix it so that we can get down from under this avalanche hill and similar stories. Suddenly, you are more present in the life compares to when you come somewhere "like a pro" and got everything arranged. There was a lot of freedom in that, but at the same time we had to arm ourselves with a dose of patience when things didn't go the way we wanted.
One practical question, living in a van in the winter for so long, it had to happen that you snowboarded in wet clothes, didn't it? It just couldn't dry out, or how was it?
The key to success is to have quality technical clothing and especially in sufficient quantities. It only happened to me once or twice that I would put on wet things in the morning. Otherwise I, thanks God, had everything relatively dry. For example, in the backcountry I always had two sets with me, one were drying and I rode in the other one. It's just about preparation.
Do you have any interesting/funny stories from this filming that you can reveal?
There were lots of stories. For example, when the clutch cable of my van broke in the serpentines and I had to slowly descend the serpentines on the second gear and somehow get to the place where we were camping, which was about 4-5 kilometers away. At the crossroads, I just prayed that no cars would come, and when I came to the parking lot where the guys with the second van already were, I found out that I had nowhere to stop because the whole parking lot was full. So I started circling around, trumpeting and shouting that I didn't have a clutch, let me park somewhere. They ran out of the caravan, standing there, holding their bellies from laughing, while I continued circling around the parking lot without the clutch, on the second gear. That's when I cursed the car, haha. Or when I saw wolves from 500 meters distance. It was an incredible experience. I was building a jump in the backcountry and I was there completely alone. The boys were doing something outside the resort. At first I was completely excited about it, but within five seconds the joy turned into sincere fear. I didn't know what to do, because I realized that I was completely alone there and if those wolves were hungry, I probably wasn't in the best position. I immediately lay down and watched them in silence.
You're alive and well, so the wolves story probably turned out well, haha. We will no longer reveal about the film itself, as the premieres in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are just approaching, so it remains only to tell people that they deffinitely should look forward to it and to come to one of the premieres. Do you want to add anything else?
Probably just the fact that the first premiere will be on September 24 in the Kasárny Karlín in Prague, where it will be part of the Freeski & SNB Premiere night, organized by the guys from Tupé hrany. And the second premiere will be on October 6 in Hangair in Bratislava. So be sure to come and we can talk about the movie and about anything else. It will be nice to see you all there.
Finally, I would like to come back to you, what are you currently doing, mental coaching. Can you tell us briefly what it is?
Mental coaching is a communication technique that helps people reach their goals, dreams and visions. Many people confuse it with mentoring, but mentoring means that someone experienced or knowledgeable in a certain field advises the person in question what to do and gives him some knowledge. Unlike coaching, I don't tell anyone what to do or not to do. It's actually a conversation based on questions, and I'm helping that person come up with the solutions himself. Because everyone knows their life best. Coaching helps us not to be confused, to be able to look at things from a different angle and clarify what is important to do, how to do it and especially when to do it. I always say that coaching helps people make conscious decisions about their lives and not act in autopilot, in learned mental patterns in which we don't have to think extra and make decisions that are comfortable for our brains. Coaching helps you get out of this comfort zone and consciously do the things we have always wanted to do. Persobally, it attracted me, when I worked with a mental coach myself and it helped me find out that we all have a choice and it's up to us whether we want something or not. So I finished studying mental coaching and now I'm starting to work with different people and organizations. It was snowboarding that led me to it, and these are two things that I really enjoy and that I somehow connect with each other.
Sounds interesting, can you tell us how to get to you, if someone wants to try a session with a mental coach? And what does it look like in those sessions then?
I would start by saying that most coaches, myself included, give the first session for free. It's for everyone to try. If anyone would like to contact me, I have my contact details on my website www.dusankriz.cz. And for the sessions, we'll call and have a conversation together. The more open and confidential the conversation is, the faster there is a chance of success. But at the same time, paradoxically, I absolutely don't need to know the subject of the problem. When a person names the problem as Voldemort, for example, and calls it that, I will talk to him about Voldemort. The important thing is, that you know what the word means to you. If I had to describe what is going on in those sessions, it would be that a person is reprogramming his head for things he always wanted to do. He creates new mental patterns, which are then just trained. Anyway, I would like to emphasize that this is not a therapy. The difference between coaching and psychotherapy is that psychotherapy quite resolves a person's past and opens up more complex processes, which are, for example, encoded in something we don't even know about. In contrast, coaching addresses the present and the future, and it's based on positive psychology. So it's important not to confuse it with therapy. Although many people would say that it has therapeutic effects. Just the way of that conversation is different for a person and in a way quite therapeutic in terms that he can reveal the cards on the table.
Follow Dušan on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dusankriz/