Imagine trying to convince an American Olympic-site committee that you want to hold a contest in the landing zone of their multimillion dollar, 90-meter ski-jump coliseum. Yeah, right. An event the magnitude of the 2001 Arctic Challenge, held April 9¿12 in Oslo and Hemsedal, Norway, just wouldn’t fly in the U.S. Fortunately, Terje Haakonsen and Daniel Franck are two of the most famous people in Norway, so when they ask for something, people listen.

The first day of the Arctic Challenge started with a salmon meal (in keeping with the traditions of Norway), accompanied by a little speech from Terje. It was actually kind of shocking to see how outspoken the normally quiet and subdued Terje was¿quite chatty with everyone and having a really good time. The Arctic Challenge is his contest, though, and it was nice to see him let loose a little.

The first day ended up being a practice-in-the-rain day. The empty Holmen Kollen stadium in Oslo had a very cool, Eastern Bloc look to it that was a great setup for photos of snowboarding. The drop zone into the quarterpipe started in the landing of a 90-meter, shit-your-pants-scary ski jump. No one was pushing it too hard¿either they were seized up or just not into getting hurt on the first day. Maybe a bit of both.

The actual day of the quarterpipe contest seemed more like an exhibition than a competition, which is probably why everyone was having such a good time. Although there wasn’t any prize money, Oakley put up a 24,000-dollar gold watch for anyone who went 30 feet or higher. And so the quarterpipe jam session/product toss/gold-watch giveaway/rock concert got underway.

The stadium was full of fans¿something like 8,000 in the stands¿each chanting for their favorite rider. It was obvious that Terje is truly the people’s champion¿throwing down large, Sprockin’-style airs. Even when he fell or flailed (not too often), the crowd screamed with excitement. He once drifted back in off a fifteen to eighteen footer, landing right on the deck. Holding his momentum, he carried himself into the tranny, and with a quick, cat-like front-flip, he landed firm, not even dragging a hand.

Despite the skills of old favorites like Terje, the new kids took the show. Kyle Clancy was riding solid with smooth 540s, while a really bad G N’ R rip-off band played. Fellow teenager Heikki Sorsa waited ’til a much better Norwegian hip-hop group came on to drop in and float the largest air I’ve ever seen on a straight-hit quarterpipe. The measuring bar set him just over 29 feet high. Really damn big, but not quite enough to win the watch. Most people agreed that he should’ve¿he was almost 30 feet out. But in the end, Oakley’s Gus Buckner decided not to send the Finnish kid home empty-handed. Instead of the watch, Oakley gave him an all-expenses-paid trip anywhere in the world.

Little Shaun White was going bigger than anyone for the first half hour, but Gian Simmen wasn’t about to let the kid beat him. He lofted high, stylish, seemingly impossible 540 nosegrabs and big methods. It was a close call. Had Shaun tried more technical tricks and spins, this might have been his event. However, he was no match for Simmen’s heated attack.

That evening consisted of a great party in the sky bar atop a ritzy hotel and a display of courage/idiocy when Daniel Franck and Romain De Marchi rappelled off the side of the 30-story building for local TV. No one knew what to make of the stunt, but everyone had a good laugh seeing how scared Daniel and Romain were as they rappelled by us in the window. And then the party raged on.

The following day everyone bussed up to Hemsedal for the pipe contest. Event organizers had been working on it for a week straight prior to the event, and it showed. Dug with a backhoe rather than a Pipe Dragon, it had huge twelve- to fifteen-foot walls and hip kickers on either side for launching in.

A little wind kept the riders from exploding witheally big airs, but the showing was good nonetheless. And without the pressure of a typical contest format, everyone seemed to just be jamming, trying new tricks without worrying if they fell.

Danny Kass was going for it. His runs were huge and on the edge with back-to-back inverts, and as always, he was having more fun than anyone else, shouting and laughing during most of his runs. He was third at finish, and it was good to see someone not taking things so damn seriously.

For the first time in a long while, Terje looked like he was actually enjoying a competition. Knowing how little he rides these days, he still dominates. Runs were filled with big airs and Japan McTwists. However, Terje’s clean and consistent riding wasn’t enough to win his own contest, and he landed in second place.

Shaun White and Heikki Sorsa dropped in and wowed the crowd with double runs. But the day clearly belonged to the favored¿White. Continuing his onslaught on snowboarding’s top seated, Shaun rode unlike any other fourteen year old to take his first-ever first-place pro win. And by beating out Haakon on hallowed ground at his own event, White struck the bold statement that he’s much more than just a minor threat.

The focus of the Arctic Challenge was clearly not on winning, though¿or competing at all, for that matter. It was about shredding with friends and having fun. At the end of the day, when the organizers tried to hold the awards ceremony, everyone in the contest was still sessioning the pipe. Even the day’s big winner, Shaun White, kept riding up until some local kids told him he’d won. See, winning isn’t everything¿even if it is your first win.

The After Wrath (Sidebar1)Shaun White reviews professional-win number one.

Shaun White is a rock star in the making. Only fourteen, he goes as big¿if not bigger¿than most riders in the pipe. We got these few words from the wunderkind following his first pro victory ever.¿J.B.

You won your first pro contest at the Arctic Challenge. How’s that? It didn’t really seem like a contest because it wasn’t like “Shaun White’s dropping in now.” It was really mellow, like riding with your friends¿a jam session. Then at the end, I heard some kids saying, “Yeah, you won!” So I was stoked.

How was the halfpipe?

Sick. I liked the pipe this year better than last because there were two hips, frontside and backside, going in.

What about the quarterpipe? Was it amazing riding in front of that many people?

I had so much fun on it.

It seemed pretty scary.

At first it was, but it was so rad riding in the stadium with all those people. It was my first time being in something like that, you know, like an Air and Style event.

I noticed that you kept your height consistent from the top to the bottom of the pipe. How did you get so high? Does skating help you?

Totally. In skating, every time you land, you have to pump to keep your speed. That’s what I do on a snowboard as well. Pumping totally helps.

Speaking of “pumping,” there seemed to be a lot of young Norwegian girls screaming for you. Did you get to hook up?

No. I got no chicks. Kinda bummed about that one.

Tons of cheering fans¿how different is that from American contests?

Different. There were people there before the riders even showed up¿totally devoted fans. I think they’re more into snowboarding over here than back there.

Does it suck that you won your first pro contest but there was no money?

It was more of a fun thing. And I got these two really sick trophies¿a gold trophy for first place in the pipe and then a cool silver one for overall. They look like Viking helmets. Terje’s name was on the silver one because he won last year. Now my name’s on it, and I’m invited back next year to try to hold the title. I’m not sure¿I guess if I win three years in a row, I get to keep the trophy for good. That would be cool.

Point And Counter (Sidebar 2)
Terje vs. Daniel, and the Arctic freeze-out.

One thing my father always told me is “Never go into business with a close friend.” Although sound advice, most people end up doing it somewhere down the line. A long-standing friendship was tested during this year’s Arctic Challenge. At a party, people were shocked to see Terje Haakonsen and Daniel Franck arguing. Daniel had decided not to ride, because he wasn’t into the design of the pipe. Both Terje and Daniel had things to say on the matter. But to make the situation worse, the Norwegian press played the argument up the following day by quoting both riders, stirring up a bit of controversy. We wanted to get the facts straight, so we got both Terje and Daniel to each tell their sides of the story. Here’s the fallout.¿J.B.

Terje’s Side

I’m just pissed at myself for signing up with him to organize the event. I saw an opportunity to try something different. That’s what we’re doing¿experimenting. I wanted to make the event different and the pipe bigger. I worked with David Ny on the pipe and quarterpipe’s size¿he’s the man. D.F. was gone doing the slopestyle. I did the format for the contest with one of the Swedish judges and the way everything would work, and I think he Daniel chose a few colors.

The first year Daniel said his back hurt too much, so he couldn’t ride. But I saw him skating every night. And he had just won a contest in Switzerland four days before. D.F. said he’s not a quarterpipe rider; I’ll say we’re all snowboarders. He’s won quarterpipes before. Why didn’t he ride more than three or four runs for the second year in a row? I think he is a chicken shit for not just having fun.

I know some people were stoked on the big pipe, but there were others whose riding didn’t suit that style of pipe¿they got used to it. Personally, I have more fun riding a bigger pipe because it’s safer. There’s a bigger transition, so if you fall, you don’t fall right to the flat. He didn’t like the way it was designed. But there was a twelve-year-old kid who was the mascot riding it and not complaining, and girls were dropping. He just kept saying it was too big, that it should be more like a superpipe. But then that would be just the same as every other event. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Not to say bad shit about him, but I don’t give a f¿k what he does. I won’t be associated with him in the future, because we have different views on snowboarding and life. I like easy style.

Daniel’s Side

The Arctic Challenge went okay, even though I didn’t ride. Terje came home two weeks before the event and took control. He didn’t listen to any of my input regarding the pipe or contest format. Gunny Chris Gunnarson was supposed to come over to build the slopestyle, which never happened. Why? I don’t know.

You see, Haakon thinks you can go bigger if the pipe is stupid huge. I wanted an optical superpipe-Dragon shape; he wanted twenty-foot walls. The problem was, that the riders had a hard time keepin’ up their speed all the way from the top to the bottom. There was a lack of variation and tech tricks. I remembered the riders from last year tellin’ me that it was, in fact, super fun to ride, but it was too big. I totally agreed with them. My whole philosophy with The Arctic Challenge is to change the concept every year, so the riders never know what will get served, only that it will be sick!

Terje needs to take a chill pill regarding his ego¿this is not a contest only for him. But I guess that’s the way it goes when you’ve been spoiled your whole life.for good. That would be cool.

Point And Counter (Sidebar 2)
Terje vs. Daniel, and the Arctic freeze-out.

One thing my father always told me is “Never go into business with a close friend.” Although sound advice, most people end up doing it somewhere down the line. A long-standing friendship was tested during this year’s Arctic Challenge. At a party, people were shocked to see Terje Haakonsen and Daniel Franck arguing. Daniel had decided not to ride, because he wasn’t into the design of the pipe. Both Terje and Daniel had things to say on the matter. But to make the situation worse, the Norwegian press played the argument up the following day by quoting both riders, stirring up a bit of controversy. We wanted to get the facts straight, so we got both Terje and Daniel to each tell their sides of the story. Here’s the fallout.¿J.B.

Terje’s Side

I’m just pissed at myself for signing up with him to organize the event. I saw an opportunity to try something different. That’s what we’re doing¿experimenting. I wanted to make the event different and the pipe bigger. I worked with David Ny on the pipe and quarterpipe’s size¿he’s the man. D.F. was gone doing the slopestyle. I did the format for the contest with one of the Swedish judges and the way everything would work, and I think he Daniel chose a few colors.

The first year Daniel said his back hurt too much, so he couldn’t ride. But I saw him skating every night. And he had just won a contest in Switzerland four days before. D.F. said he’s not a quarterpipe rider; I’ll say we’re all snowboarders. He’s won quarterpipes before. Why didn’t he ride more than three or four runs for the second year in a row? I think he is a chicken shit for not just having fun.

I know some people were stoked on the big pipe, but there were others whose riding didn’t suit that style of pipe¿they got used to it. Personally, I have more fun riding a bigger pipe because it’s safer. There’s a bigger transition, so if you fall, you don’t fall right to the flat. He didn’t like the way it was designed. But there was a twelve-year-old kid who was the mascot riding it and not complaining, and girls were dropping. He just kept saying it was too big, that it should be more like a superpipe. But then that would be just the same as every other event. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Not to say bad shit about him, but I don’t give a f¿k what he does. I won’t be associated with him in the future, because we have different views on snowboarding and life. I like easy style.

Daniel’s Side

The Arctic Challenge went okay, even though I didn’t ride. Terje came home two weeks before the event and took control. He didn’t listen to any of my input regarding the pipe or contest format. Gunny Chris Gunnarson was supposed to come over to build the slopestyle, which never happened. Why? I don’t know.

You see, Haakon thinks you can go bigger if the pipe is stupid huge. I wanted an optical superpipe-Dragon shape; he wanted twenty-foot walls. The problem was, that the riders had a hard time keepin’ up their speed all the way from the top to the bottom. There was a lack of variation and tech tricks. I remembered the riders from last year tellin’ me that it was, in fact, super fun to ride, but it was too big. I totally agreed with them. My whole philosophy with The Arctic Challenge is to change the concept every year, so the riders never know what will get served, only that it will be sick!

Terje needs to take a chill pill regarding his ego¿this is not a contest only for him. But I guess that’s the way it goes when you’ve been spoiled your whole life.