The Grasshopper In the Snow

Costa Rican Leon Glatzer finds his own Norwegian skatepark

Most surfers’ idea of a dream mission involves palm trees, boardshorts, and girls on the beach. For Costa Rican/German rising star Leon “El Gafonhoto” Glatzer, that’s his daily routine at home in Pavones. While enjoying a winter residency in Europe last month, the goofyfooted grasshopper struck out for the northern territories, scoring a Norwegian skatepark, a rippable left-hand beauty set between two mountains. We caught up with Glatzer to hear about his strike mission, and what would compel a hot-blooded Central American talent to want to don a 6/5/4, lobster claws, and booties.

How’d that whole trip to Norway come about? Was that hard to read, as far as charts and stuff go?

Yeah, it was super hard. I was waiting for a month and a half in Germany, just snowboarding, waiting for the call. I wanted to get it perfect, tons of snow, the whole deal. I had this vision: dumping snow and perfect waves.

Your backyard in Costa Rica is one of the world’s best lefts. What made you want to do a cold water strike? Had you surfed in anything like those conditions before?

Never. The thickest wetsuit I’d ever put on was a 4/3. I’d never worn boots, no gloves. I was actually really stressing about it. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to surf, because I’d be so stiff. But when we got there and saw how good the waves were, I was just so full of happiness. It was so surreal. It was the most amazing visions I’d ever seen – this beautiful small bay tucked between these two big mountains. I was just buzzing. I didn’t even notice the rubber. It was just such an amazing feeling.

Photo: Hallvard Kolltveit

How big of a window did that swell have?

We had like three days. We were going to go look for a few other waves, but that spot was just so perfect we just stayed.

Did you get to meet any locals up there? What was the scene like around that little village?

Yeah, we got to meet a bunch of the original locals up there, we ate breakfast and had coffee at their camp, Unstad Arctic Surf. Inside the camp, there was this black board with all the signatures of all the surfers that had ever surfed that spot – Mick Fanning, I think Steph Gilmore, Chippa Wilson.

Most people know you from your clips shredding at home in Pavones, but you’re a real international citizen these days. You’ve been living in Germany and all over Europe this winter. How’s that treating you?

Man, I love Europe. My parents are from Germany. I’ve been spending a lot of time over here for about four years now. My family and I have been living in Germany the last three months. My grandpa had a flower shop in Kassel, about two hours north of Frankfurt. He passed away recently, so we moved over to run the business for a while. My brother and I have been snowboarding a lot, and I’ve been spending a lot of time in Portugal, training with Marlon Lipke and Gony Zubizaretta. I think it’s because Europe’s in my blood, but the more time I spend here, the more it’s starting to feel like home.

Photo: Hallvard Kolltveit