Starting out as a small pilot project back in 1999, TAC is now established as one of the greatest snowboard events in the world – although still keeping its independency. It is the only TTR 6 star event owned by a professional rider. 10 years after the first riders where invited to Norway by Terje Haakonsen, TAC still experiments with formats, arenas, judging systems and TV production in an everlasting search for perfection. Accepting no compromise throughout his whole career, Terje still makes life hard for his crew by pushing the limits for possibilities in a snowboard event. But nobody ever joined him because it was easy.
And TAC certainly had its hard moments. From bankrupt sports agency firms to sleezy agents, from failing sponsor income to devastating weather, from fatal accidents to nightmare tv productions. But in between the trouble there have been unforgettable moments of great snowboarding and real life experiences. Here is the short and brutal history of TAC:
1999: Terje, Daniel and Oakley invites 12 riders to Norway to test a new concept for snowboard contests: The Arctic Challenge. No competition and no media pressure. Sushi is served on a beautiful naked female and the great people of Lofoten welcome a new breed. Halfpipe in Trysil, surf and freeriding in Lofoten.
2000: The first competition and full fledged event in Lofoten. The best TAC weather ever and plenty of snow. Many think of this as the most legendary TAC event. Halfpipe, quarterpipe, surf, skate and freeride in this picturesque peninsula called Lofoten. Unforgettable night time stories and secret missions in small fisherman cabins. Terje wins halfpipe and highest air in quarterpipe, Romain wins overall quarterpipe.
2001: The beginning of the tough years. High ambitions but no finances from british sports marketing agency Sportsworld. Rain and mild weather in Lofoten pushes the event to the south. Heikki Sorsa enters snowboard history books by blasting 9,3 meter over the qp coping in Holmenkollen. Shaun White claims his first international victory in the Hemsedal halfpipe; looking down on his childhood hero on second podium, Terje Haakonsen.
2002: Sports marketing firm Sportsworld goes bankrupt, but forgets to inform Terje and Daniel. They find out by reading the Financial Times, and they are forced to cancel the event – being the only time in the event’s history. Terje buys out Daniel, pays all the outstanding bills out of his own pocket and puts together his own team planning for the future. Together with other key people in snowboarding, TTR is born at a secret meeting at ISPO in Munich. The Air&Style kicks off the first TTR season later that year.
2003: Cancelled last year. Why don’t we kick back as hard as possible and make 3 formats this year? Halfpipe, quarterpipe and slopestyle in Trysil. No one was really prepared on the amount of work, but with the help of all marketing directors and their teams of all sponsors the arenas was finalized one hour before the first TAC slopestyle. Shaun rules and brings home the trophy. Halfpipe is hazzled by bad weather and a show is put on. Halvor Lunn takes best entry into pipe and Shaun best trick. Overall wonder boy Travis Rice comes straight outta nowhere and totally dominates the quarterpipe. TAC delivers its first live airing – on a seconds presision. And smoke coming out of the Lavo party.
2004: Back to the North and the second year as TTR finale. The city of Tromso hosts halfpipe, quarterpipe and a lifestyle programme out of proportions. Every night a new band and after party. Turbonegro, Satyricon, Gluecifer and Cato Salsa Experience. The rock elite of Norway. Finch Airlines is established. He wins the halfpipe, comes second in quarter and takes highest air in quarter. Travis Rice wins again, though.
2005: Rain, rain, rain, puke, puke, puke. The biggest and darkest cloud ever was over North of Norway for weeks. It rained for three weeks. We were depressed for weeks. Sponsors were screaming, TV was crying. Halfpipe was moved from Tromso to Finnsnes, then cancelled. Slopestyle was moved from Tromso to Lofoten, then cancelled. The quarterpipe went as planned in Tromso, but in pouring rain. Markus Keller wins, but what everyone remembers is the boat trip out of hell. 100 of 200 passengers pukes and Fredrik Austbo makes a promise he will never go on a boat again. Turbonegro saves the day in Lofoten by delivering one of their top 5 concerts, as defined by bass player Happy Tom. And it was good surf and skate, too…
2006: The final chapter of the black book. The scaffolding is too weak for the snow pressure, and is taken down and replaced two days before the events starts. The biggest snow storm in Oslo in 50 years delays the event even more. Protest rider Jody Koenders also makes it into snowboard history books – but in a nasty way by making the worst crash ever. He survives it, but that was close, man. No tricks over 6,5 meters in a icy quarter. But a good crowd and one of the best freeriding weeks ever; in downtown Oslo! Home boy Henning Marthinsen wins and becomes a household name in Norway overnight. The first glimpse of better days.
2007: What’s up, weather gods? The sun is out, and here comes Haakon, and my Gooood, he flies soooo high! Being on fire the whole day (all riders letting him taking their turn), Friday 2nd of March 2007, Terje goes higher than any snowboarder before him. 9,8 meters and new world record. On tape, aired all over the world – even on CNN. Terje goes straight to top on Transworld’s exposure meter. Kevin Pearce starts dominating the snowboard competition scene by winning his first TAC qp in front of a packed event. Funded by solid sponsors, sports marketing director of Oakley, Pat McIlvain, says in his closing dinner speach it was the best organised TAC to date.
2008. Back in Holmenkollen. The collosseum of Norway. 7000 spectators right in your face. Beautiful weather. Chaos on the trains. Everything sold out: tickets, sponsors, parties, concerts, dinners, shopping street. Akon on stage singing dirty lyrics with Norwegian kids. The new variation judging system is praised by the riders and the TV production is world class. Future Magazine writes we will never top the Cosmo party. Well, let see about that. Kevin completely rules the competition and takes both overall and best trick. Terje makes highest air of 8,5 meters but touches the hand. A few more attemps and he could have made the magic 10 meter mark, but the contest format didn’t allow that, so lets change it for next year!
Click here to see how you can enter to win an all expense paid trip to Oslo, Norway this February, 2011 to experience the Oakley Arctic Challenge!
Courtesy of the Official Oakley Arctic Challenge website.