For many of the world’s pro snowboarders, the spring pilgrimage to Alaska is an annual rite. Over a several month stretch, they journey north in search of big jumps and life-changing lines, while the movie crews log their meat-and-potatoes footage and photographers fill up their hard drives with sick shots.
For Andreas Wiig, however, the Alaskan saga has just begun. Peek into Wiig’s very first trip to AK, where he RV camped for ten days on a high mountain pass within 50 feet of the heli pickup. His partners in adventure were the rest of the Mack Dawg crew, including riders Heikki Sorsa, Jussi Oksanen, and Wille Yli-Luoma. Also in accompaniment were a pesky flu virus and a beat-up ankle. “I had to use like a roll of medical tape every day to protect my foot,” says Wiig. But, as the photos prove, you just can’t hold down this precision Norwegian machine.-J.S.
So you were staying in an RV at the top of a pass for ten days-how do you do in close quarters?
Actually, it wasn’t all that bad, but it seemed like everyone-including me-got a little cabin fever after seven down days. There were two people per RV and two “beds” in each, too, so no one had to stay on the couch. I was sharing with Heikki, and I think we can actually claim the cleanest RV. But we did start freaking out towards the end of the trip. Every night the gas heater would shut off and we’d wake up freezing cold-it’s no fun trying to fix that thing at five in the morning! Some nights the carbon monoxide alarm would wake us up, too-sketchy! I’m definitely not going to stay in an RV for a while.
Seven down days in a row, huh? What did you do to pass the time?
We played a lot of poker. I think we ended up playing twenty games, and I lost some money for sure. I won one game, though, so I was stoked on that. A good thing about not having a TV or Internet access is that we all got way more social. Besides that we played a game called Apples To Apples, which is kinda too hard to explain here. I actually didn’t watch any movies, believe it or not-but I watched a lot of Heroes episodes. So addicting!
What song rolled most often on your iPod?
“24 hours” by The Sounds.
Were you reading anything interesting?
That Mà®tley Crà…e biography called The Dirt. I read the whole book while I was there-couldn’t stop. It’s amazing how those guys are still alive.
What’s your relationship with Alaska? How do you really feel about going there?
I’d never been to Alaska before, so it was a totally new and amazing experience. I’ve always heard that it’s so big and overwhelming-and it was. I’ve been heli-ing once in New Zealand, but never anything like what we did in AK. I had to be more focused than normal, because you have to take that shit pretty seriously-really listen to what the guides are saying, look out for the other guys, et cetera. There were a couple times when I was pretty nervous, especially the last few days when we were doing lines. It’s so hard to see where you’re going!
What was going through your head on that first heli ride of the morning?
First I’m trying to think if I forgot something. Then I’m thinking about how much fun it’s going to be to take a few free runs. Then I start getting butterflies when I think about what I have to do to get a shot for the movie. It’s always a little scary, but at the same time I’m so stoked that I get the opportunity to be up in AK experiencing this.
What are some of the ups and downs of trying to make a movie part?
The hardest part is all those days when you’re trying so hard to make things happen and get a shot but you keep getting shut down by bad weather, bad snow, or something else you can’t control. The most rewarding part is when you land something cool-maybe some trick you’ve never gotten on film before that you suddenly get as good as you can. Then you get so stoked!
What was making you happy on this trip?
The last few days we got to do a couple of amazing free runs with tons of fresh snow and not a track within miles. It was so rad to see how stoked everyone was after those runs.
What was stressing you out?
My ankle was definitely bothering me a lot. I had to hold back to save it and not get hurt again. It was too early to start riding again, but I just couldn’t miss out on this trip like I did last year-I had to go and experience it. My ankle got really bad after the first couple of days and kind of locked up. At the same time I had the flu and felt like shit. But the second to last day I woke up and my ankle felt way better, and my flu was pretty much gone, too. The arnica gel must have worked!
What do you do to stay healthy during the winter?
I’m trying to take some days off once in a while and rest up a little bit. Reading or watching TV shows helps me keep my mind off snowboarding, traveling, and all the pressure involved. To stay healthy physically I try to stretch when I have time and throw in an Emergen-C once in a while to keep my immune system up and running.
What are the top five things you spend your money on during the wintertime?
Heli-snowboarding, restaurant food, plane tickets, hotels, computer stuff, and iTunes music.
What do you miss the most about being back home in Norway?
Being close to my family and friends-and my barbecue.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life so far?
There’s no point thinking about what you could’ve done in the past. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve doesn’t cut it-make the best out of today and tomorrow!