I think because it’s Christmas and the Ski Season is here I have been thinking about some one I met once who was a real character. One of those people you only meet once, but always remember. John Wilhelmsson (aka Swedish John) was a close friend of my mate  Chris Thorne. He was tragically killed in late February 2006. He was an extremely talented skier and photographer. Check out his memorial website to remember some of his great work. Chris Patient sums him up:

I first met John in Zermatt in the early 90s. I was impressed by his fast and fearless skiing. He could throw progressive manoeuvres with very little air and he would seek out the sickest cliff drops. As a skier, he was ahead of his time. Furthermore, his skiing buddy was a snowboarder, which for me – a confirmed ‘old schooler’ – seemed to open my mind a little.

John Wilhelmsson soon became my top ski model. He was my first front cover, and he was always full of ideas and new energy. Together, we had many memorable powder days (exploring Zermatt’s off-piste and shooting photos) in the early days before fat skis came in.          One day, John told me he was going to jump a huge ice cliff whether or not I photographed it. I was worried about the jump especially when I saw how flat the landing was. But John was undeterred. I shall never forget seeing him hurtling through over 18 metres of space and landing on his back. I never did get the photo published, and John sustained internal injury as a result. I think he calmed down after that.

Today, John continues to show a skier’s enthusiasm and a sense for the unusual now that he has joined the ranks as a lense man. For me, he is not only a briliant photographer, but a friend and confidante and a continued source of inspiration.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

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