[The Riks Banked Slalom is a challenging course, but one that riders of all levels can be challenged by. All photos: @bernstal]
The what-went-down, photos and highlights edit from the 2017 edition of the ever-awesome Riksgränsen Banked Slalom. The carve was reclaimed!
The man, the myth, the legend that is Mr @freddiefruhstuck made the pilgrimage to this Mecca of snowboarding far up in the arctic north, and fired in this report... Video below too.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Riks Banked Slalom for the second time in my life. Last time I was this far up north was in 2014 and I couldn’t wait to be back. Volumes have already been duly documented about the magnetic pull, light and many moods of Riksgränsen’s mystique by wordslingers of a much higher caliber than I. So, do your research or simply take it from me; Riksgränsen is a must-see.
[Above: Mons Roisland isn't just one of those contest kids that can jump and flip and spin a bunch. The dude can certainly ride his snowboard.]
2017 marked the five-year anniversary of Transition Magazine frontman Anders Neuman’s brainchild. Reason enough to head north. Add a 24/7 bluebird weather forecast, rumours of record snow and no less than three perfect quarter pipes scattered around the resort to the mix and you’re out of excuses for not going. Not to mention there would be the rare chance to reconnect with old friends such as Björn Lindgren, Knoddas, David Söderberg, the Narvik and Tromsö crews and all the other cold season arctic shredders up there that confront and endure minus-25 Celsius temps throughout the dark season, all for the love of snowboarding.
Actually, some of the best riders in the world come from Riks. How so, you ask? Because years of honing your skills on anything from blue steel, via crust to pow to spring slush while trying to hit a single feature ONLY inevitably turns you into a whirlwind of a snowboarding chameleon. Anyways, I digress.
Friday was the first day of competition/qualifiers and what a shocker it was for spoilt alp-cruisers like myself. Zero powder or cat-track wide banks groomed to perfection us central-Europeans take for granted. Instead, what awaited us was a raw course, sometimes no wider than your board, brutally icy and bumpy. Challenging? Hell yes, but still so fun and when you see kids blasting through and smiling the only option is to suck in the gut and man-up.
Thanks to the exceptionally outstanding 100% techno-free playlist turned up to 11, blaring from the bottom to the top of the race area (courtesy of Neuman himself-please insert your playlist here Anders), all the technical difficulties of the course were overcome and testosterone was brewing. Those anonymous fainthearted few who complained about "Too much guitars" please do us all a favour and go to a Kygo Guetta show instead next year.
Come Saturday the course was slightly friendlier (thanks, shaper crew!) and actually started to become more a source of amusement than fear, hah! The usual suspects were all on point. Goofy foot Hampus Mosesson was clocking impressive times (hope you sell them boards as fast as you ride them Hampus) and so were Terje, Pontus Staahlkloo, Björn Lindgren and Mons Röisland.
[Below: Terje. Getting older; not getting any slower. The guy's a freak of nature.]
The opening bank caused many riders grief, but after that, it was mostly semi-smooth sailing. My own confidence level was about as high as that of a fragile turd just set free into stormy seas before my first training run. Surprisingly, though, the turd grew more and more robust for each run.
As someone who’s had the privilege to attend no less than five other Banked events down in Europe, I must give the Riks event props for being the only event running the comp over two days. This allows for course improvement, more training runs and higher attendance. Bravo, anexample to follow. Another thing that stood out was the surprisingly high number of kids and girls doing the comp. Recruitment is not just well but alive and kicking up north. Go Sweden!
In the end, the grand old man but still so oh-so-young Terje Haakonsen won the Masters division and clocked the fastest time overall, closely followed by young buck Mons Roisland, winning Senior Men. Props to Pontus Staahlkloo for winning the Grand Master division, although you’re too fast/fit/talented to belong there, haha. See below for full results.
A huge thanks to Anders Neuman, Transition Mag, Riksgränsen and snowboarding. There were simply too many beers, funny moments and highlights to even try to start listing them here. Why don’t you go check it out for yourself?