USA treating me A OK

This blog is increasingly becoming a list of people I need to thank, and this entry is no exception. Coming in with a strong number one spot this time is Ryan Van Den Meerendonk, for picking me up from Denver airport on arrival from Whistler, giving me a ride to Crested Butte for the comp, hooking me up an amazing condo to stay in and lending some money (split with Sam Lee, chur buddy!) for lift passes and comp fees. I hadn’t registered on time for this comp either so I greatly appreciated the organisers letting me in, again. To be so warmly welcomed by the American freeride community was pretty amazing too, I still marvel at how easy skiing makes it to become good friends with people so quickly. [caption id="attachment_435" align="alignnone" width="662"]Qualifier Venue and my line Qualifier Venue and my line[/caption]  
Dropping in on my rocky double in qualifiers
Turning on the pad
  I had one of the best days of my life at the competition too- I won a 'sickbird' belt buckle (comentators choice award for their favourite run of the competition, I'm the third kiwi to get one after Tom Dunbar and Janina Kuzma) with a run that jumped me from 10th after the first day to 2nd overall, which got me enough points to get back on the Freeride World Tour next year in combination with my 1st at Engadin and 6th at Moonlight. In excitment I smashed a 700ml beer on the podium, but couldn't hold it down and projectile vomited it off the side of the podium as my buddy and Fischer teamate Conor Pelton got called up for 1st place and the crowd laughed heartliy- that's why I don't have a beer in the photo below.
Guys podium
Sick bird belt buckle!
  But before prize giving I went snowblading with Sam Ibex Lee, Ian Borgeson and Ryan Van den Meerendonk and stuck a switch backflip, never thought I'd attempt that on blades! The afterparty was good fun too and the boys cut me a mullet, as I said they could if I made top 5, which they started off  with a knife, before having to do a sobriety test at the bar to borrow scizzors.
This certainly got me some looks in the airport
  And then somehow a magic trip to Alaska. Ryan lent me his credit card to book a flight too and once I had we got in the car and drove to the airport. How does this timing work out? Are flights not meant to be stupidly expensive to buy same day? Apparently this one was cheaper than it usually costs to fly to Alaska from the lower 48. I don’t know anymore. But then it happened, the thing I knew had been coming for a while- I finally ran out of money. I stood at the check in with my ski bag that I had so carefully packed to be exactly 50 pounds (23kg), with my bindings in my carry on as always and couldn’t pay the modest $25 fee to get it on the plane. Apart from my unusable $1500 USD prize money cheque from the comp I had $8 USD, $5 Australian, and change from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Canada the European Union. The situation was getting towards me having to find a bank and hoping that they would exchange coins, and that those coins would add up to about $25 US, when a kindly American lady turned around, proffered her card and a ‘happy Easter’ and disappeared into the crowd. I don’t really know what that means, whether it is a symbol that it’s OK to live this way, or a stark reminder that I’m hitching on the karma train and have a mortgage of it to repay. Either way I appreciate it very much. As if to accentuate that, I didn’t realise that Anchorage airport is a 50 minute drive from Girdwood, where my old friends and former Canterbury exchange students Josh Randich, Jeff Krizman and Luke Tanaka live, and I asked them for a pickup thinking it was just down the road. Jeff turned up as smiley as ever and shouted me dinner since I still had no cash. The highway follows the coast of a fjord between dramatic mountains and huge ice chunks floating in tidal inlet, but since I couldn’t see it so well at night the Northern Lights came out to play, languishing behind and spilling over the silhouetted peaks to our left.
Driving from Anchorage to Girdwood
The lines from our first day touring 'Grandaddy Colouir'
Me and my mullet on Goat Mountain above Girdwood
Josh and his ski-touring shred dog Misty, with our line on Goat Mountain in the background
  The next 3 days were mostly sunny, which never happens in Alaska. The crew (minus Luke who was away on a film trip) took me on a trifecta of the local easy access day trips, ‘Grandaddy Colouir’ on day one ‘Silvertip Peak’ on day two and ‘Goat Mountain’ on day 3. Grandaddy was a good warm up day (photo above), and a line that looks gnarlier from the bottom than the top (the lookers left line marked on the picture only had one small air in it). Silvertip Peak was the highlight for me, and the sunniest day too, so it gets the most pictures (below). Goat was good for the last day too, a bit more mellow as things were warming up and wet slides starting going so it was nice to stick to a ridge and watch Josh's dog Misty shred down with us (3rd and 4th photos above).
The touring track out to Silvertip Peak
The crew checking out lines on Silvertip
Future lines, I'll be back next year when they're not sun affected
Jeff riding out of the face
Stopping for a beer at the bottom of the run, apres-ski Alaskan style
  Also Goat mountain was a good option for a mellow last day because the weather was starting to come in, I had to fly that night and we were a little slow in the morning after festivities at Josh’s the night before for Easter- and to welcome home a friend of his who had just come home from hospital with frostbite. The frostbite was from the last trip that they had done- they were 18 miles deep in a valley and camping out with their snowmobiles when a freak storm dumped over a metre of snow on them. Not knowing if more was coming they decided they needed to get out of there- but it was too deep for the snowmobiles. An 18 hour ski tour later got them to the truck, which they drove straight to hospital to get Josh’s buddies’ feet some attention. Alaska is gnarly! But I’m still so keen to get back there and already planning a trip for next year to film.... but for now home to Sweden and then Romania with the kiwi crew that I’ve been missing! Thanks for reading, hope you’re enjoying Spring or getting your Autumn froth going, and if you've bothered to read to here then you're probably someone that helped make this trip happen, much love to you!

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