Originally posted on SnowboarderGuide.com
Arctic Man is a party; a damn big party. During the weekend, Arctic Man weighs in at around 20,000 people, making it the 4th largest city in Alaska. (Anchorage is at 350,000, Fairbanks at 85,000, and Juneau has close to 30,000.). The original concept was for a team race, the team consisting of a skier/boarder and a puller on a snowmachine. The puller races up a mountain, links up with a skier/boarder, tows him/her across the top, and then the skier drops the rope and books down the other side of the mountain. This is done one team at a time, and the fastest overall time wins the purse for their division. There are men and women divisions for both skiers and boarders, and the total purse was over $100K last year. The race is one day, the party almost a week. Of course there are tons of other events throughout the week; including snowmachine and snowboard big air competitions, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
The parking lots are full of motorhomes and campers, strategically parked in circles to keep the wind out, hundreds of snowmachines, and more beer than you can shake a stick at. Some parties never end; the Disco-Ball group has their party going every night of Arctic Man, every year. The State Troopers are on patrol 24-7, but amazingly enough, even they are cool, permitting the wild parties; they are they are primarily there to keep the peace, and to help in medical emergencies. There are generally 1 or 2 fatalities every year (beer, snowmachines, high marking/avalanches, and utterly crazy people), but this year the party escaped with only a few injuries. Two of our friends were hit by a drunk driver on a four-wheeler, and got pretty messed up, we are thankful that they are alive.
Snowboarderguide Team Rider Eric Provost entered to race in 2001, but due to weather, the race was canceled, so this was his first year actually racing. In the practice run he and his puller were running in the top 5, but on his final practice run he hit an exposed rock and trashed his long race board. The only backup was a 158, not nearly long enough to hold the speed he would need through the last section. Eric and his puller, Brad Krupa, finished 10th, but they will be back again next year. One great memory is Eric hiking up to where we were watching after he finished the race. Wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, he walks up to us and says “Damn, my nuts are cold!” One skier bailed at the top of the section that is visible from the finish line. It was about 15 minutes later that his ski sailed by. Another skier wrecked at the bottom, and the crew in the flight-for-life-copter got a chance to show off, as they rushed him to the hospital in Fairbanks. After the race a ton of the snowmachiners started launching a cornice, floating a good 20 feet into a semi-powder landing. We caught a ride down with some of the Whiteboy Racing guys, who are all totally crazy cool. We were hauling ass through untracked snow to avoid the rutted out trail and all of the traffic traveling on it. Hauling through the untracked meant that whenever we hit an unpredicted bump the driver and I would both go sailing into the air, he was holding onto the handlebars, and I was holding onto him.
When we got back to our campsite, we made some food and sat around the campfire warming up until we were ready to party. Every night at Arctic Man is insane madness, and this one proved no exception. The group of motorhomes next to us had a 10′ tall beer bong. It ran from the roof of one motorhome to the ground, could hold close to 12 beers, and featured an on-off valve at the mouth. At some point we managed to make it back to bed and collapse, only to do it again the next day.
The Snowmachine big air was truly amazing, as I said before, the guys from Whiteboy Racing are completely insane, but I’ve got a lot of respect for them. They ride totally tricked out sleds, most of them are more custom-fab than stock. They were doing amazing things with their snowmachines: heel-clickers, supermen, etc. The kinda stuff you usually see in motorcross big-air. You can find pictures of some of their antics at their website, www.whiteboyracing.com.
It takes a couple days to recover from Arctic Man, but witnessing the event is worth the recovery time. If you are in search of the ultimate party, look no further… Come to Alaska. If you want more information about previous years winners, or about the future schedules for Arctic Man go to www.arcticman.com.