Ed Leigh: The Best Snowboarding I’ve Ever Seen


Terje Haakonsen at the Arctic Challenge. Photo: Hansi Herbig

How could there not be Terje moment in here? Actually there are two, but who cares? Come on this is Terje he’s earned them.

This first one is the aftermath of the eight-metre air to fakie he pulled at the Arctic Challenge in 2001, the year Heikki Sorsa smashed Ingemar Backman’s quarterpipe world record. The quarter pipe itself was a perfectly sculpted ten-meter leviathan and the run in was a 120-meter ski jump landing. At the time it was the most incredible feat of structural snow engineering anyone had seen.

It was midway through the first proper jam session on the quarter when it happened, after a couple of days practice people were starting to get comfortable and Terje was starting to stretch his legs. The Cat had tucked down the warp speed run in and then floated off the lip. Everything was running smoothly up to the apex of that legendary crossbone poke and then, as the free fall back to the transition began, it became apparent that Terje was in dire trouble.

As the free fall back to the transition began, it became apparent that Terje was in dire trouble.

He later explained he had drifted out over the platform, though how Terje managed to force the board through a backside air with no rotational momentum was what left jaws sagging. But he’d managed it and as he hit the lip of the quarter on the way back down, he was facing the transition. This didn’t change the fact that he had just fallen nearly eight meters onto a razor sharp ice lip, but it did mean that Terje could anticipate the impact, which he did perfectly.

He caught the lip right between the bindings, absorbed as much of the impact’s energy as he could and then threw his head down into the transition so he wouldn’t get launched out onto the flat by the inevitable rebound. What this did though was initiate a front flip and Terje amazed even himself when he stomped this survival flip four meters down the transition and rode away unscathed with his head in his hands in disbelief. It was a rare moment where Terje’s ridiculous talent surprised even himself…


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