What Dreams Are Made Of
The 2000 Arctic Challenge, Lofoton, Norway
By René Hansen and Embry Rucker
Daniel Franck and Terje Haakonsen saw an opportunity that only they could make reality in their native country–save the part of snowboarding and competition they loved while dismissing all the other bullshit. For the second year in a row, the Arctic Challenge wasn't about points or impressing judges, it was about having fun and pushing oneself to one's personal best with the encouraging support of friends and peers. We know it sounds idyllic and fairy tale-esque, and in some ways it was. So, off to the land of opportunity–in other words, where the beer runs fast and the blonde girls are easy in every sense of the word.
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What Daniel actually said in his welcoming speech at Lofoton's Viking Museum isn't as important as understanding the general meaning of it. We're not just saying that because we can't remember his speech verbatim, nor because Daniel himself can't remember it word for word, but because no one in attendance the first night knew that the sweet elixir of traditional Norwegian mead, while bringing us “closer to the gods,” would also manage to wipe out our collective short-term memories.
So the gist of the Arctic Challenge and the philosophy behind it goes a little like this: It's a snowboard contest that doesn't really follow the parameters of other contests. It's run like a free-for-all event, but is highly exclusive and operates with some very strict rules.
Many contests have horrible parks, pipes, quarterpipes, and big airs that are dangerous or don't allow riders to achieve their best. When a spectator comes to an event in hopes of seeing their hero as they've seen them in magazines and movies, they get bummed because the rider usually slams or only goes four feet out of the pipe. Terje and Daniel want to change that–The Arctic Challenge has become an experience and a formula for the future of events in hopes of making sure everything is in place for riders to perform their best while stoking out the crowds.
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The greatest thing about the whole Arctic Challenge was that it was never stressful. The competitions didn't start before 2:00 p.m., which meant participants could experience fishing trips, surfing, paintball, or just sleep. Unless you wanted to fish or surf, you never had to get up in the morning and freeze your ass off. It also gave the pipe and park a chance to get a little bit softer before riders went out and risked their necks. Lofoton is so far above the Arctic Circle that the sun during this time of year is out until 10:00 p.m. The weather was great for the whole week, so riders took advantage of the extended sunlight and good weather while they were there.
We slept until 1:00 p.m. every day, getting up to a perfectly shaped halfpipe and quarterpipe. There was always food available when you wanted it–something that was much appreciated after a rough night on the town with the locals. Even the Swix wax crew was always ready. We'd just give them our boards, and by the time we were finished with breakfast, the boards were ready to go.
Terje and Daniel worked closely with the resort to design and build the arena for the event at the one T-bar mountain in Stamsund. They designed a beautifully massive halfpipe with the most insane backdrop of white jagged mountains, fjords, the colorful town of Stamsund, and a Crayola box of blue hues that make up the North Atlantic.
The scenery threatened to dwarf the awe of the halfpipe, the size of the quarterpipe definitely did. It sat at the bottom of the halfpipe like a mountain waiting to be summited. It took a lot of salt and a watery-eyed, arm-straining, Mach-looey snowmobile tow-in, but riderss got to the top.
Where the roll-in usually is, this pipe had a fifteen-foot hip almost every rider used to boost over the crowds into the left wall of the pipe. At the top of what was going to be a slopestyle course (before everyone fell in love with the pipe), there was a ten-foot flatbar with a huge drop off the end. Joni Malmi, Bjorn Leines, and Shaun White killed it with tricks that made us believe jibbing's actually cool.
The pipe show started and as always, Terje went higher than everyone and had consistency in his runs that no one else could match. Marius Sommer almost managed to, but too bad for Marius and the rest of us, because he slammed so hard he broke his collarbone. So Terje won the pipe event, as everyone expected.
Shaun White, Anne Molin-Kongsgaard, Keir Dillon, Terje, and Romain de Marchi were killing it on the quarterpipe. After Shaun figured out the best wax in the world is Swix, he boosted two meters higher. Terje was going the largest as always, Anne made the majority of the guys look stupid with her high airs, and Romain did the most technical tricks.
In the end, prizes were awarded on the final night at a party in a massive fish-processing warehouse where Daniel sang an impromptu set with his friend's band, Baba Nation. Romain de Marchi got first place in the best-trick contest for his huge backside 540 on the quarterpipe. Daniel took a break from singing long enough to award his cohort Terje with the quarterpipe biggest-air prize, and in keeping with the AC's philosophy of change, Terje decided to give one of the Oakley watches he won to Anne Molin-Kongsgaard for blowing everyone's minds on the quarterpipe.
We'd all like to thank Terje, Daniel, and Kjell Vagle for a great event that everyone can learn from and use as a formula for how snowboarding competitions should be run.
For more information about the Arctic Challenge, visit transworldsnowboarding.com/features/00/2529.html, or the Arctic Challenge Web site at www.the-arctic-challenge.com.
Someone told me that it's such a special time to be living on Earth, that a lot of souls are trying to get in so they can be here, and those of us who are already here are real lucky.–J.J. Thomas
Sounds right to me.–Abe Teeter
Being the only girl, the whole happening, beautiful weather, insane scenery, good riding … heaven on earth. It's gonna be hard to repeat something as good as this.
I want to thank Daniel and Terje for putting this whole thing together and for inviting me. Maybe this could be a little reminder for girls out there to step it up; it's worth going, and it's a lot of fun.–Anne Molin-Kongsgaard
It was super fun, but the judges got all pissed 'cause I wrote, “Stop Judging Me” on my jersey as a joke. They wanted to disqualify me. We didn't even care about the results; we were just riding and having fun with the local women.–Romain de Marchi
No one in attendance the first night knew that the sweet elixir of traditional Norwegian mead, while bringing us “closer to the gods,” would also manage to wipe out our collective short-term memories.
Anne made the majority of the guys look stupid with her high airs.