[Above: Sven Thorgren and Fredrik Sarvell occupy opposite ends of the Swedish shred timeline, but both were ripping.]
From the Memorial, we were invited to session the hand-carved features the dudes from Gällivare had shaped at the top, or simply ride down the Norwegian Run throwing some turns for Craig. Despite the flat light and increasing snowfall, a solid posse hit the top quarter throwing an onslaught of Methods that would have made Craig proud. Alek Østreng even took it from 96 to 2016 by tossing a hectic double Rodeo off the the damn thing.
The next couple of days was spent rising late (the never-ending light took its toll), sessioning either the chairlift hits or any of the heaps of other spots the Riks terrain offers up – including the famous train tunnel wallride. The last day everyone gathered at the foot of the Norwegian Run, at the site of the original King of the Hill in 1996. A bad snow year meant that the planned reincarnation of the quarterpipe didn’t quite measure up to its iconic forebear – it was more like a small, rugged hip – but it didn’t really matter. You had locals throwing Methods, Sven and Alek throwing doubles, Müller daubing his own ode to Ingemar across Norwegian skies, and a bunch of snowboarders having a blast in the May sunshine/cloud/blizzard/sunshine. It was quite possibly the best minishred session of all time.
Of course, there was a good amount of solid snowboarding on display at KOTH 2016, but perhaps the most enduring image is the sight of over 200 riders making the short walk and ride down to the Norwegian Run for the Craig Kelly Memorial ceremony. Gravity-defying airs, stunts, jibs, flips and whoop-de-doos are great but pale into insignificance alongside the communal spirit of strapping in, enjoying the mountains and sliding around with like-minded people. This is the true essence of snowboarding, and one that was certainly flowing 24/7 this spring in Riksgränsen.
Thank you, Ingemar, Pierre, Ola, Riks and everyone who was there for letting us be part of it all.