The Jousting Life

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Interview with Per Estein Prøis- Røhjell, Team Champion at Arundel and Individual Champion at St Olav's 2014

Editorial Note: I apologize for the lateness of this article. Pelle sent me the answers to the interview questions over a month ago, but I was not feeling well and was unable to put the article together in a timely manner.

After winning the team championship with Ben van Koert at the Arundel International Tournament which took place July 22 - 27 in West Sussex, England, Per Estein Prøis- Røhjell, known by many as Pelle, immediately left to compete in the St Olav's Tournament which took place July 28 - 30 in Trondheim, Norway, where he won the tournament championship.

Per Estein Prøis- Røhjell(photo by ARW Photography)

Pelle very kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his experiences during these two tournaments.

Congratulations on winning the Team Championship with Ben van Koert at the Arundel International Tournament! AND on winning the Individual Championship at the St Olav's Tournament! How did it feel to win two tournaments back to back?

Ben van Koert(left) and Per Estein Prøis-Røhjell(right)display their Team Championship rings in front of Arundel Castle 2014(photo by Victoria Dawe)

Thank you! It was emotionally incredibly intense, for a plethora of reasons. St. Olavs Tournament is something of a pet for me, as we are trying to build a high-quality tournament, where Norwegian jousters – newbies and oldtimers alike – can come together and duke it out, all the while being in a "safe" environment, where winning is secondary, and showing your skills is the main attraction for jousters and spectators alike. Trondheim is a very nice city like that – strong with tradition and culture. And Arundel was much the same, which I of course couldn't have known until I had been there! And the added challenge of riding a bunch of different horses has always daunted me. This was actually the first season where I tried that particular evil.

What was/were your favorite moment(s) of the Arundel Castle tournament?

This is a hard one. My first proper "moment" with Arundel, was to be invited at all! Such an honour, I felt, and still feel. As I noticed Ben already mentioned, an evening of culture; music and poems, and with the greatest comic relief – was a very strong experience. Andy Dean's presentation of "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and "The Last of the Light Brigade" showed how strongly all the jousters connect to soldiers and cavalry, while also bringing to the forefront the depth of the personalities around the campfire that night. One morning I got caught by the scoreboard, of which we had all been warned, and I saw that Ben and I would have to win both our team shows that day, in order to stay in the running.

The scoreboard on Day 3 of Arundel Castle International Tournament 2014
(photo by ARW Photography)

I had not thought of winning at all until that moment, but the competitiveness woke up right then. Finally, there are just too many little nuggets of awesome to share in a short interview. Suffice it to say, I was awed by the level of quality in each and every person.

How did you become involved with the Arundel Castle International Tournament?

Ben van Koert invited me, as his former teammate was very busy with the shaped solid lance jousting on the continent. I was honoured!

What would you like to say about/to your teammate Ben van Koert?

About him: he is one meticulous man! He just keeps crossing out the weaknesses he has, and added to that he allows himself to express his personal awesomeness. This allows others to shine, as well! To him: Thank you man, for an awesome experience! May it not be the last! [Click to see Ben van Koert's interview]

Ben van Koert during Arundel Castle International Tournament 2014
(photo by ARW Photography)

When and how did you become involved in jousting?

Well, I started riding in 2001. I had just met my then future wife and needed to impress her. She was a rider already, of course... The plan was to ride to the first night of "The Two Towers" – which we more or less accomplished. Much riding and training later, I met up with Arne Hagerup, and Hans Joergen Belseth of De Norske Frilansene (The Norwegian Freelancers), and they introduced me to the whole community in Norway. I learned – and still learn – to ride from my wife. We run a riding school of sorts together. Also, Luke Binks has taught me a whole lot of important stuff with regards to jousting and the general mindset of the historical knight.

What would you like to say about/to the others involved in the Arundel tournament?

The crew running Arundel was an absolute pleasure working with. Scoring was brilliant, I had all the help I could possibly want from ground crew and squires. The horse people were utterly awesome! Never a "no" in their mouths, always a piece of advice, and even occasionally a sinister note when you´d done bad. Andreas Wenzel, who was the Knight Marshall, managed to look the part, do the job, AND be a help to jousters and scorers alike. Brilliant job.

Andreas Wenzel, Knight Marshal for Arundel Castle International Tournament 2014
(photo by Victoria Dawe)

Arundel Castle International Tournament ended on Sunday, July 27 outside of London, England and St Olav's Tournament began on Monday, July 28 in Trondheim, Norway. Please tell us about getting from one tournament to another so quickly.

Oh, that sucks a bit, actually. I don´t know whether I can recommend it, really. I had a stayover at Copenhagen, which was actually rather nice, but I recommend getting a ticket including the lounge, to save some time dining and such. However, Stacy van Dolah Evans´ father took me to Heathrow efficiently, and I was picked up at Trondheim by my wife, so I could hardly complain.

How did you get involved with St Olav's Tournament?

The dude who runs it is a personal friend of mine, and I happen to be rather close with most of the Norwegian jousters. Norway is a very small country when it comes to numbers of people of any kind...

What was/were your favorite moment(s) of the St. Olav's Tournament?

Again it´s kind of hard to tell, but a couple of moments do shine through for me personally: I managed to throw a spear properly TWICE in one round of mounted skill at arms. I have never even managed that once in my life. I really, really suck at throwing stuff with a normal overhand technique. And then my horse being awesome for nine passes in a row with no pause! He stood like a rock eight of those times, and I could await the other jouster, helping the quality of the whole thing. This was not always possible for me...

Ivar Mauritz-Hanzen(left) and Per Estein Prøis-Røhjell(right) joust at St. Olav's Tournament 2014(photo by Ragnhild Krogvig Karlsen)

There were apparently some problems getting your armour to the St. Olav's Tournament. Please tell us what happened, and how it affected you.

Yes, the airport at Copenhagen – Kastrup – is apparently known for making a mess of everything luggagey... I arrived in Trondheim without any luggage at all, but luckily everything was delivered in the evening. However, this meant that I had to compress more work into less time, but both me and the horse were up to it, so no complaints there either. Actually I pulled something in my groin in the finals of the joust – so I guess the body started to feel the strain...

Please tell us about your armour.

My armour is mostly made by Luke Binks. It isn´t all ready yet, so there are a few missing links, that have been replaced by in stock stuff. I am certain Luke could fill us in on who used to wear the original and all that stuff, I confess to not remembering. This does, however, bring out a couple of points that are of importance to me. Like I said earlier about Ben, I am very impressed by his meticulous nature – the orderly way he carries on about his business. I am nothing like that myself, like we can see from me not knowing simple facts about my armour.

Pelle with his wife Hanne at St. Olav's 2014(photo by Stine Gulli)

Nonetheless, my armour – how it is made, how it looks, and how it works – is very important to me, and this is how I decided on it: "Oy, Luke! I want an armour that can express elegant power! I want a Salet, and I want a little bit of fluting." (Shortened a bit for the viewers pleasure.) And he went to work, trying to find something that would fit the description. I believe he managed beautifully! I cannot be bothered about details, but I want the whole picture to express something, and I believe it does, despite the few things that are not yet done. I enjoy how it all flows, and above all, I enjoy the way it looks organic! My favourite part? Cannot answer that, because it is not made up out of parts as far as I am concerned, no more than is a human body.

Please tell us about the horse that you rode during St. Olav's Tournament.

Pelle jousting on Promyk during St. Olav's 2014(photo by Stine Gulli)

My current jousting horse is named Promyk. He´s a Polish warmblood, and his name means "Sunray". I've been training him for the best part of a year, and almost exclusively done strength/flexibility training and a bit of conditioning. I do not practice a lot, meaning I do not run a billion passes at the tilt, but rather rely on the capacity and obedience of the horse to bring us through. He still needs a fair bit of training before he comes onto the plateau of his bred capacity.

Pelle practicing on Promyk(photo by Charlotte Sørensen)

He is very intelligent, but I don't know if I like that trait. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's difficult. He does want to please, though.

We got this horse for free, he is something of a known quantity around here, having scared vets and farriers alike. He used to be quite dangerous, he is definitely the most dangerous horse I have ever worked with. One of my fellow jousters, a good friend named Tore K. Gransaeter, rode this horse for a while, and he says that he used to pull his cap down into his eyes, so he couldn't see Promyk's eyes when collecting him in the fields, because Promyk has the evilest eye!!! That way, he didn't get scared, and the horse stayed calm.

When you are at the site getting ready for the tournament, is there anything special that you do?

I have no particular rituals, but I work hard to get into the "right mindset". For me this is a martial art, and I feel we need to express power and control, all the while showing toughness of heart and soul. Being strong without being hard.

Please describe in as much detail as possible, the exact process that you go through when running a jousting pass.

When running a pass, I would liken the process to "The Flame and the Void" (see Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time). That is, I try to empty my mind, feeding all emotions into the flame, leaving the void as a clear screen, upon which anything "uncommon" can be clearly projected.

Per Estein Prøis-Røhjell at St. Olav's Tournament 2014(photo by Ragnhild Krogvig Karlsen)

This, I believe, is where one falls to the level of his training. I have faults I need to fix still – like I need to bring the lance up sooner after the impact. I do not think a lot while doing the pass. I feel more, always trying to stay calm, not falling for the will to go "all out".

What would you like to say about/to the others involved in St Olav's Tournament?

Trondheim has also got a great crew! There are some positions that still need to be filled, but we are building this tournament from the ground up, so time is just going to help us make it even better!

Rozemarijn Keuning hands Pelle a lance during St. Olav's Tournament 2014
(photo by Ragnhild Krogvig Karlsen)

What are your plans/hopes for the future?

Oh, I simply cannot relay that here! I plan to compete in Dressage as well as jousting, partly to try and further our recognition as a sport. This is rather exciting, as well as a fair bit daunting. I know that many people within our community are not very fond of competitive dressage, and I can hardly argue against them. My goal remains, however, to always unite instead of divide.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and best of luck in the future.

The ring for winning the Team Championship at Arundel 2014 and the engraved bricks for winning the jousting competition and the overall tournament at St. Olav's 2014
(photo by Per Estein Prøis- Røhjell)

Related articles:
Per Estein Prøis-Røhjell Wins St Olav's Tournament 2014

Interview with Ben van Koert, Half of the Winning Team at Arundel Castle International Tournament 2014

About a Horse:  Hugo

Interview with Per Estein Prøis-Røhjell: Jouster at "The Grand Tournament in Sankt Wendel"

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