Words and frames by Robin Pailler | Photography by Nils Svensson
This interview was originally published in Volume XIII, December 2023
I’m not really one for skateboarding in the Olympics. But at Tokyo 2020, I couldn’t help but find myself cheering on Malmö’s sweetheart, Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg, for the win.
He is the people’s champ after all. Sadly, Oski missed out on the finals. But with Paris 2024 a stone’s throw away, a full recovery from a torn ACL in ’22 and having just moved to Austin, Texas, we caught up with Oski to discuss all things moving to the U.S., representing your country on a global stage and the benefits of a carnivorous diet.
You moved to Austin, Texas a week ago? How has your first week been, and why did you decide to move out there?
First week has been great. I brought my Dad with me too and it’s his first time in Texas so definitely exciting for him. Moving from Europe to the US is a lot of work. A lot of logistics and things that need be done and managed. I’ve basically spent most of the time this week either buying furniture, setting it up, writing emails or making phone calls. Can’t complain though, ever since skateboarding became my life I’ve been wanting to move to the US and now it’s happened. Even though I’m officially moving now, it feels a bit less dramatic for me since I’ve already lived a year in NYC and a year in LA previously. It’s just that now I’m changing my primary residence from Sweden to the USA.
I thought I wanted to move to LA at first, that was my initial plan. However, I visited Austin for the first time in 2021 and I just really loved it here. Coming from Sweden, warm weather for more than four months a year is something I’d really been wanting more of in my life for a long time. Also, travelling to the US so much over the last 10 years, I’ve made so many friends here and I enjoy being here. It feels very different now from the first time I flew to Orlando for a Nike conference when I was 16. It used to be a big culture shock coming over here. I think Austin is one of my favourite cities because even though we’re in the US, it still has elements that reminds me of home. Everything is really accessible and it’s easy to get around. I really like visiting LA but when I’ve been there for months at a time it’s been really hard for me to get used to being stuck in traffic on a daily basis. It made me a bit depressed. Where I’m from, everyone cycles and you can get from one side of town to the other in ten minutes.
Do you have a solid group of friends and people you can link up with and skate with out there? How were those friendships forged?
Yeah I do. The skate scene here is really good I think. I’m not a local yet but to me it seems a bit like the scene here is similar to in Malmö in the sense that it’s not too divided. For the most part, it feels like everyone gets along and hangs out and skates together. I think it has to do with what a particular city looks like geographically. It makes sense that, for example, skaters in LA don’t all hang out together all the time, because it’s just huge. But here in Austin, most people are pretty close to each other so you end up skating together often, the same as in Malmö.
How was your final week in Malmö? What did you get up to before you left?
I didn’t get to hang out with my friends or do a proper goodbye party to the extent I would have liked to. I was selling my apartment, moving all of my 200 pairs of shoes and even more clothes and stuff to a storage unit, and so on. Turns out moving to a different country is a lot of work… I also competed in the world championships in Rome like 10 days before I moved. However, in the last few weeks I did manage to have a class at Bryggeriets High School, as well as hanging out with you when you came to Malmö. That was fun! I also got a bit drunk with some other friends the night before I left because Nils turned 50. Then after the party I managed to bike to my friend Alex’s and say farewell to him and Heitor in the middle of the night.
Malmö has obviously been an integral part of your life growing up, as well in as your skate career. How has it evolved over the past 10 years? What and who will you miss most?
I will for sure miss Malmö—my family and my friends there, as well as the skate scene in general. There’s nothing like it, and it’s where I grew up so it will always have special place in my heart. I’m not devastated though, because I will go back and visit every summer, all summer.
Best/worst thing about Malmö?
Best thing is the summers, worst thing is the winters.
Best/worst thing about Austin?
Summers are the worst. Too warm. Winters are the best. I swapped out the worst part of both places so now I won’t be around for any of the bad parts haha.
Addiction and depression are two really hot topics in skateboarding right now. Have you experienced either and why do you think so many skateboarders suffer from these issues?
Although some people obviously struggle much more with specific types of addictions and others struggle a lot with long periods of intense depression, I feel like everyone struggles with those things to varying degrees at one time or another during their lifespan. Even if they are not alcoholics, for example. That’s how I feel, at least because I’ve never technically been an alcoholic or been diagnosed with depression, but I’ve certainly had habits and periods that I have felt held me back from reaching my full potential and being as happy as I can be. I’m grateful I was able to overcome those periods and with time evolve and adapt more healthy habits and routines through just paying attention to myself and using tools that are available if you want them. Because it has really helped me be more successful and happy, just to name two things. That being said, it’s an ongoing process, and I feel like it never stops. You learn more, become smarter, have realisations, and with time and experience you improve yourself further, if you want to. It will never be perfect but if you put in the work and delay gratification, you’ll definitely see your quality of life increase over time.
You’re obviously big on health. You had a sauna in your flat at Malmö and you recently started on a carnivore diet. How’s the carnivore diet going? What else do you do to maintain your body and keep your skating at such a high level?
Yeah, I would say I am. I just want to skate and be able to do all the things you can do when you’re healthy. And I want to be able to keep doing those things for a long time. I know what it’s like to not have your health so I don’t take it for granted. And as much of a cliche as it sounds, I’m also a person who is constantly trying to improve my life and my circumstances. To just make the most out of life basically. Sauna is nice…I do a bunch of things. However, when it comes to diet, I don’t really know a lot. There’s so manny different types of ideas of what’s healthy and what’s not, so it’s hard to know for sure. My mom inspired me to try out eating a bit more of like a carnivore type diet so I’ve been trying that for like, two weeks.
You competed in the Olympics and are hopeful to be in Paris next year. How do you prepare before competing in such a global event and how do you deal with the pressure of representing your country?
Last time I kinda went all in and focused just on the Olympics for a few months before the event. I wanted to try and approach it like an athlete, a super serious type of vibe. It was cool to try, and an experience, but I don’t think it works out in my favour to do it like that. At least not for an event like the Olympics. It’s already so serious anyways, so no need to make it even more serious. This time around, I’m gonna approach it a bit differently. Just focus on skating well in general. Having fun filming good shit and then going to the contest and treating it as a contest instead of treating life as a contest for months leading up to it.
I don’t really think too much about the representing my country part, to be honest. Sweden is where I’m from and I’m proud of that, the colours of the flag on my helmet looks cool as fuck and if I can get a cheque from a contest, I’m down. But I’m not very nationalistic. I kind of hate governments actually. But the people of Sweden, I’m down to rep them all day.
There’s so many amazing skateboarders in this day and age but who are you most hyped on right now? And what skateboarders do you think are gonna blow up in the next year or so?
Vilma Stål, Heitor Da Silva and Ville Wester (even though they are already rockstars), Kader, Sven (my neighbour, he’s 9 years old), Kevin Rodrigues, David Stenström.
Besides the Olympics, what’s next on the horizon? Have you got any future goals now you’re living in America?
To give my mum a comfortable retirement and to skate better than I did before my knee injury. These are my biggest goals right now.