Iceland Winter Games
Leaving the Czech Republic, we caught a 3:00 AM shuttle to Prague. Getting to the airport right at sunrise, and rushing to get to our flight to Copenhagen. Thankfully everyone made it in time. Once in Copenhagen, we had a few hours till our next flight, so we got to relax and get some food before our final flight to Iceland.
After landing, grabbing our bags, then getting the rental, it was off to Akureyri, which was at the north part of the island. This was supposed to be about a 5-hour drive, but with an unfortunate wrong turn, and sketchy road conditions, this turned into more of a 7-hour drive. Thankfully we arrived in Akureyri safe and sound.
The next day we didn’t end up having anything planned, so Robby and I searched for a laundry service. After my last experience with laundry in Europe, I was so happy to have clothes that were not only clean, but also dry (Even if it did cost $20 for the service, still worth it).
That evening Robby and I got invited to go on a bus tour to see and ski the 5 ski resorts in the Northern Iceland area. Not really sure what to expect, we showed up bright and early to hop on the bus. When we got there, we noticed a lot of older to middle-aged people and just figured this must be a popular thing for tourists, we were so wrong. This was tour that happens once a year, when resort owners, travel agency directors, foreign dignitaries, and even a member of Iceland Parliament get together to talk about better ways to improve tourists destinations in Northern Iceland for skiing. For this tour we would drive to each resort, ski for 30 minutes, then hop back on the bus to the next destination.
While riding on the bus, one of the resort owners turned to Robby and I and asked, “Do you know what you do if you ever get lost in a forest in Iceland?” Unsure of what to say back, he quickly responded, “You stand up”. This joke made us chuckle a bit, but quickly came to realize he was telling the truth. There really isn’t anything resembling the forests we have in America, and barely any trees at all.
When we went to get lunch at the town of Siglufjördur, waiting for us was none other than protographers Nate Abbott, and the token Englishman himself, Callum Jelley. This was my first time meeting Callum, and didn’t even realize he was the Token Englishman, till later that day. Had so much fun hanging out with these guys the whole trip, and they were able to get some awesome photos!
After skiing at a few more resorts, we made a quick stop at the first Micro-brewery called Kaldi. We got to hear their story of humble beginnings, and sample the product as well. The last resort we stopped at was the resort in Akureyri, where at the top lodge lots of warm soup was waiting for us. This whole bus tour was truly amazing, and so happy we got the opportunity to see more of what Iceland has to offer.
The next morning we got to head to the mountain to early to check out the course. After skiing for a couple of hours Robby, Klaus, and other Norweigan rider Siver all headed back to the hotel early so we could go Cat Skiing with a new company called Artic Freeride. While conditions weren’t the best, we all still had a blast and were very grateful for the experience.
On the way back from Cat skiing, I was told that the contest was going to be pushed up to the following day due to very bad weather rolling in. Feels like I’ve said that for almost every contest I’ve done this year, but that’s what happens when you compete in an outdoor sport. Since the contest was the next day, I went to bed early that night.
When we got to the mountain, we had some sunshine great us, and after a quick meeting, start hitting the course. The night before, the resort got a little bit of snow, so everything was running a bit slower than usual. After lapping a bunch it started to speed up nicely. We had just finished practice, when the wind started to pick up. After a vote, we decided to have the slope course on the rails and the first jump. Not the most ideal, but better than nothing. Instead of doing qualifiers, we just had three runs each. I landed my first two runs, and messed up on the jump my third run.
Happy I was able to put some runs down, but the worst feeling is being completely unsure of how well you did. The judges decided to not tell any of us, so the rest of the day we were left hanging. After an awesome dinner with all of the competitors and event organizers, we headed to the mall for them to announce the winners. Thankfully I was able to grab the 3rd place spot, and my second podium of the season. Robby ended up grabbing his first Gold level podium with a second place finish, and Siv got first! Always a good day when you get on a podium, and the day continued out with the boys and hanging out with the event organizers.
Just as predicted, the bad weather rolled in the next day. Waking some of us up even with very high winds, and rain. For the entire week the parking lot of our hotel was covered in a giant sheet of Ice. By the afternoon of the last day, you could finally walk on the cement. Like most down days this trip, it was filled with food, and lots of Entourage. The event organizers threw everyone one more dinner, before the closing party of the event.
The next morning, it was time to drive back to Reykjavik. Thankfully the roads were much better, this time and we avoided the unfortunate detour we took the last time. Since we had to be up at 5am the next day, we just got some food, and then went to bed. When we got the airport the next morning, every flight was delayed for a couple of hours due to 50mph+ winds. When we finally got our flight, it was the weirdest thing feeling turbulence, while still on the ground. Thankfully made it out of there safely.
Big thanks to Paal, Thomas, Sverrir, Eric, Halldor, Bjorn, and all of the other organizers that made this easily my favorite trip of the season. Had so much fun hanging out with everyone, and can’t wait to come back next year to sing more Uptown Funk in the streets of Akureyri at the top of our lungs.