I didn’t see it until it was too late. Blasted reindeer. I had walked down the stairs straight into a pile of the stuff. Steam rose from the sole and side of my shoes as I tried to shake them clean in the cold ass Arctic air, as I wheeled my baggage away from the Airport in Kiruna, Sweden.
Jet lagged out of our gourds, Whitey, Andrew Crawford, and myself piled into a rented mini van, threw some DMX in the CD player and took off across the frozen tundra. We arrived at our destination three hours later, but decided to continue on to Norway to get some beverages of mass consumption. Whitey missed the turnoff back to the resort and reminded me that a cranky and sleep deprived Whitey is no laughing matter. Two hours later, we arrived back in Riksgransen.
Instead of boring you with details of the trip, the following is a condensed timeline of events that have taken place in the last six days.
Chris Saydah called from Sims and told us that Marc Frank and Kurt Wastell had missed their flights and scrapped the idea of coming altogether. Amazingly, Whitey stayed calm. As for Crawford¿the pressure was on. Although super beat, we managed to go to the bar, and in turn went without sleep for over 36 hours, a small feat for your neighborhood crackhead, but not me, since I am commonly referred to as “Coma Baby” by friends.
Sleep was good. Ate breakfast, and sat in our room until 1. PM waiting for Ingemar Bachman and Peter Strom. Getting to the hill that late would usually mean that you were a slacker, but in Sweden this time of year, it stays light until ten at night, therefore I guess it meant we were on Swedish time. The snow was super good for a couple hundred feet, then it was broiler plate ice, and then it was good.
Crawford found a couple of things to hurl himself off. We ate lunch, and traversed to Norway to check out some terrain. The snow was better there, and Ingemar and Peter threw down some pow carves. Crawford built a good step up, but decided to wait to hit it for better weather. What a mistake. Ate reindeer for dinner and went to the bar. Maybe a pattern developing?
Sleep was good. Jacob Soderquist showed up at the jump after a mellow 14 hour train ride from Stockholm and we traversed back to Norway, spending several hours at the step-up waiting for the sun to come out. Two hours later, still waiting. Then finally¿ there was a break. The sun peaked through the clouds as if God himself decided to show some pity for our hapless souls. The flat light disappeared, birds filled the sky, and we were happy; the riders hit the jump. Life was great. Then, three minutes later, it was gone. We were sad. Was all doomed? We contemplated the story. Was the magazine in jeopardy? Would the careers of these athletes fail?
Then it was as if God had once again intervened and sent us the Son of Jerome. Whitey spoke, he had shot half a roll of film on the trip so far; it was time to celebrate; we went to the bar¿it was packed. The bar closed at two. Crawford made it to the outside break right before last call, and paddle for what looked like a good wave.
Let it rain, let it rain. In a metaphoric sort of way. Andrew’s drought was finally over. Things were looking up. Then we went outside. Flat light and nothing in the sky but clouds. Still though, we tried. Ingemar, Peter, and Jacob built a hip. Andrew built a gap over a walkway. The snow was slow, Andrew tested the run in a good six times, the Swedish tourists watching grew impatient, Andrew dropped in. I held Whitey’s camera flash underneath the gap. I couldn’t see the run-in, but I could hear his board gliding across the snow, then silence, then Andrew’s body speeding through the air, then the horrifying sound of Ptex slamming into a cement wall, then a scream of pain. His limp body slid down the wall, to the walkway ten feet below.
“Are you alright?” a dumb question, yet one that had to bee asked¿Crawford was clearly invincible.
Reindeer steaks once again abounded on my dinner plate, and we decided to celebrate another epic day by going to the bar. It was Saturday night and the place was rocking. Crawford and Whitey hit up the blackjack table, as for me, I conversed with an amazingly nice Norwegian I met the nice before. I’m telling you, you would not believe this person’s enormous brain or tight little usage’s of Norwegian slang.
Anyway, I went home early. Crawford showed up back to the room a couple of hours later with some Swedish vixen. Who was this guy?
What’s this? No sun and more flat light, well, alright man. We sessioned the hit Ingy and the others built the day before and had one hell of a time. Everything was killer, Whitey had his wide angle out and said the air these guys were getting looked like a lot through it. Ingemar busted some mellow backsides, and Crawford, due to the flat light, grabbed mute and held it all the way until he landed on the deck on his chest. Bitchin’.
And then, as if our trip couldn’t get any better. Jacob, fell right out of the sky and landed right on top of Whitey. Whitey was stoked, too; he shouted all the way to the doctor’s office. That night, we skipped the bar and any food that resembled Prancer and instead watched Whitey ice his battered and bruised calf muscle. Life was good.