Danny Davis wins The Arctic Challenge 2014

Comments by Kelli Lynn Hargrove/

The brainchild of Terje Haakonsen, The Arctic Challenge is a new breed of competition. Bringing halfpipe snowboarding back to its creative roots, Haakonsen’s contest allows snowboarding’s elite the chance to let their style and creativity do the talking, as they ride a wholly unique pipe built from their vision. Not only were the riders opinions included in the layout of the pipe— which included rails, boxes and cut-outs to encourage original, inventive runs— but they were also given the chance to decide the format of the competition. Twelve of snowboarding’s top riders — Kent Callister, Scott Blum, Jake Pates, Benji Farrow, Gabe Ferguson, Ben Ferguson, Jack Mitrani, Iouri Podladtchikov, Terje Haakonsen, Markus Keller, Arthur Longo and Danny Davis— came out to kick off an experiment in progressing snowboarding by getting back to its roots.

The group decided to hold an hour-long “expression session” to kick off the comp, a full on jam session that allowed riders to hit or skip whichever features they felt inclined to. Twenty minutes in, judges Greg Johnson, Ingemar Backman and Dani Sappa had Kent Callister, Ben Ferguson and Benji Farrow as their top 3; after forty minutes, Danny Davis had replaced Farrow and sat squarely in second place. After the hour-long jam wrapped, Davis, Ferguson, Iouri Podladtchikov, Callister and Gabe Ferguson made up the top 5.

Danny Davis, handplanting the snow box | P: Danny Burrows/ Red Bull Danny Davis, handplanting the snow box | P: Danny Burrows/ Red Bull

The second half of the contest was another full hour of riding, this time the focus placed on full runs. Coming out of the second hour, Danny Davis, Jake Pates and Iouri Podladtchikov had dominated the full runs segment of the contest. In the end, when the two jam sessions were combined, Danny Davis was named The Arctic Challenge champion, with recent Olympic gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov ending the day in second with Kent Callister in third. Markus Keller was awarded Best Trick with his supreme Elguerial handplant on the mailbox.

Capping off an intense year of competitions, The Arctic Challenge reintroduced the creativity and originality that shapes snowboarding’s past, stepping away from a stagnant contest scene and giving riders the chance to compete on their own terms. Style, innovation and individuality trumped technicality in a day defined by passion and progression.