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By Brad Jameson
Above the crowd. Jameson photo.
When I moved to France in September, I knew it was a chance to go place I would not otherwise see, but the one plan I had from the start was go to The Arctic Challenge.Â The pinnacle of snowboarding, the revered contest that for most American shreds is merely a myth.Â One of my new friends, Hilde, happened to be an Oslo native and after a few late nights, I persuaded her to come to Norway for the local’s perspective.
We woke up to snow in ChambÃ©ry, caught the bus to Geneva (still snowing), made our flight to Oslo (still snowing) and were picked up by Hilde’s father Svein-Erik, who was one of the coolest, nicest people I’ve met in a while.Â I was whisked away to the outskirts of Oslo, towards the town of LillestrÃ¸m to their neighborhood, Marykollen.Â Along the way Svein-Erik told me that nearly a meter of snow had fallen in one day. I had truly hit Norway at the right time, and it continued to snow the rest of the week.
I met Hilde’s mother Gynn, (pronounced Gun, totally awesome) and learned her brother had left for his Aunt’s for the week cause he was afraid of speaking English.Â I was ushered around the tourist spots of Oslo for a day, and Hilde showed me some of her favorite haunts. We also discovered a few new ones ourselves, all the while laughing at the crowds of “Oslonians” dressed up and stoked for that night’s AC/DC concert.
Non-optimum speed conditions. Jameson photo.
Day 1 of The Arctic Challenge dawned. After taking the free bus to the competition site, we were immediately stripped of all food and beverage, contrary to the website that had encouraged guests to bring food and water.Â So we stood outside the gates and pounded our tallboys next to the kindergarteners eating their sack lunches, on their fieldtrip to watch snowboarders. Norway rocks.
On the second attempt, I was told no cameras were allowed in. I was immediately in an uproar. My dream of the competition to end all competitions, organized by the riders, for the riders and the fans, was instantly relegated to just another competition with legalities and liabilities surrounding the entire event.Â With a most non-triumphant rain cloud over my head we ventured through tent city towards the venue site, following the sound of hip-hop drifting through the forest. Homenkollen, the grandest arena in Norway and the usual home to TAC, is currently being reconstructed for the 2011 FIS World Championships. I was apprehensive when we emerged in the Linderudkollen arena, and again, immediately let down. Where was the stadium I had seen for the past few years, the grand stands, the blue skies, the crowds, and the atmosphere?
The hopes of breaking the 10m mark were dashed by the copious amounts of snow falling all over the Oslo area. Speeds were maxing out at 85 km/h not 100, and thus heights were (only) reaching 6.8m.Â The entire course was scraped clean 3 or 4 times a day requiring the participation of riders and volunteers alike.Â With many of the heavy hitters (Rice, Muller, Pearce, Sorsa, Davis, Ipod) missing from injury or what not, it was left to Daniel Josefsen to step to the plate. He posted an early 6.8m air which Terje matched but didn’t land. (He settled for third tied Arthur Longo at 6.0m.)Â Shayne Pospisil, fresh of a victory at Red Bull Skyscrapers, took the last hit of the day and made it count, matching Josefsen’s 6.8m and racking up more style points. Josefsen and Pospisil shared 1st and the spotlight.
The man, the myth, the mctwist. Terje. Jameson photo.
On the way home, I was so bummed to have come all this way with nothing to show for it but my ticket (which they took anway.) I began contemplating sneaking in or being a puss again and then I had an idea. I shot an e-mail to YoBeat and within an hour I was filling out a form for a “core press pass.” The next day I cruised into the hotel to pick up my pass and drooled all the way to the booth, a little star struck you might say.Â I fumbled around in the lobby with what I thought was free matches, but it fell out onto the floor and turned out to be a condom. Thanks Terje, I’m good with first impressions.
“I’m special” pass in hand, I proceeded to miss semifinal 1, but fill up my 4gb memory card and kill my battery with shots from semifinal 2 and the finals.Â I spent some time on the normal people side of the competition with friends, but soon ventured over the “we’re important people” side of the contest. Minding my own business, I nearly ran into the first person to cross my path, which when I looked up happened to be Terje. Best first impression ever.
Being from Colorado, I had a stellar time watching Steamboat’s Matt Ladley tearing it up with the best of them, and finally seeing Terje ride in person was astounding. You know how anytime people talk about him they say natural ability a lot, and “sprocking cat” and all that? Well yeah, totally true.Â Matt led the entire finals and you could see the grin on his face as the final session started, and you could see it disappear in an instant when Arthur Longo stole it at the last second.Â Autti Autti was laying it out with some amazing frontside 9’s for third.Â My honorable mention goes to last place Yasuyuki Momose, whose wildcat late 180 nosegrab’s were so styley.
This is what last place looks like. Jameson photo.
My favorite part of the day though, was just after Longo had been crowned champ.Â The winners were getting their checks and being surrounded by every photographer there. It was then that Terje, completely unannounced dropped in and seemed to sneak past, avoiding everyone’s attention and planting a wonderful little frontside invert on the far corner of the qp, almost like he did it just for me.Â After all the hassles, hype, letdowns, smiles and snow, that one moment mad the entire trip to Norway worth it for me.
I bailed on the expensive after parties, where I knew I would just feel out of place and would probably embarrass myself more, in favor of local pub time with Hilde and Bri. I still had 2 days left in Norway and around 3-4 ft. of fresh, so I spent one day hiking around Marykollen jumping off little cliffs and bootpacking up to make some great turns.Â The night before our flight out, I made the 5-minute walk from Hilde’s house to the local T-Bar and made some Norwegian friends on the little hill.Â The kids were around 11 to 14, and all skiing. Only one of them spoke English but we had a blast. I think I saw there hill in ways they hadn’t thought of and were so happy to follow my lines and I was stoked to see their expressions after showing them some new gaps and cliffs. I ended the night by skirting over to the closed ski jump, which I had been eyeing all night and made some of the best turns I’ve had all winter, the pitch of the landing it easy to lay into wide open turns and the jump had remained untouched throughout the weeklong storm. I was sinking to my waist on each heelside carve.Â I walked back home and caught my fight back to France the next morning, with a smile on my face from Aass Halling Pilsner, moosemeat lasagna, T.G.I. Friday, and the promise of returning to Oslo.
Making it all worthwhile… Jameson photo.
Day 1- Highest Air
1 Shayne Pospisil Â Â Â 6.8m
1 Daniel Josefsen Â Â Â 6.8m
3 Terje HÃ¥konsenÂ Â Â 6.0m
3 Arthur Longo Â Â Â 6.0m
5 Kevin Pearce Â Â Â 5.9m
6 PÃ¥l SÃ¸rensenÂ Â Â Â Â Â 5.5m
7 Risto Mattila Â Â Â 5.3m
8 Antti Autti Â Â Â Â Â Â 5.2m
Day 2 — Finals
1 Arthur Longo Â Â Â 1340p
2 Matt Ladley Â Â Â Â Â Â 1336p
3 Antti Autti Â Â Â Â Â Â 1250p
4 Risto Mattila Â Â Â 1131p
5 Terje HÃ¥konsen Â Â Â 1094p
6 Henning Martinsen Â Â Â 1014p
7 PÃ¥l SÃ¸rensen Â Â Â 762p
8 Yasuyuki Momose Â Â Â 699p
Best trick: Matt Ladley
Highest air: Terje HÃ¥konsen 6.5m
Check out the full gallery. (Click on a thumbnail to expand and click through)