To start with I would like to say that this is my side of a story, a story affected by ice, cold water and adrenaline.
The purpose of this story is to describe how coincidences can interact in a bad way and how you can go from super happy and stoked to be in a hardcore situation where your life is at stake.
It was February 19th 2017
We had almost two months of great ice conditions behind us. This day we were planning to go to one of the local spots north of Stockholm. Two friends were ahead of us and after a few runs they called back telling us that the ice wasn’t safe enough. We rerouted to another spot more inland – a sweet water spot that was new to us.
My best friend Jonas and I arrived late to the new spot, our friends were already on the ice. After setting up my Alpha iceboard and my favorite sail, Maui Sails TR3 4.7, we went out to the gathering point.
The ice suddenly turned very transparent
We talked to our friends who arrived just before us and decided to slowly but surely go down the same line were we saw the other guys go. A few hundred meters down the line there was a boarder with bad ice, crossing the route. We turned north to slow down and check the boarder out. Half way through the maneuver I realized that something was wrong terebly wrong.
After just a few seconds the board went through the ice
The ice suddenly turned very transparent and made a beautiful but scary sound. Afterwards I realized that when I started the turn I had the thin ice area at my back. After just a few seconds the board went through the ice, I was catapulted and went through the ice a few meters from the board.
So the situation was this: I was in the water with unbroken ice between me and the board and another 6-7 meters of unbroken ice between the board and ice, thick enough to bear my body weight. When I realized that Jonas had followed my path and was in the water some 50 meter away I got really really scared.
I started to crush the ice with my hands and body towards the board and sail, high on adrenalin, feeling no pain and I didn’t feel the cold water at all. I was just determined to reach the board and sail as the first base on my way to safe ice. If you go through the ice when skating you know that you have safe ice behind your back, this is far from truth if you go through ice on an iceboard.
Iceboarding with Jonas on Vallentunasjön, Stockholm – Sweden
This video was shot at my home spot two weeks before the insident at Ekerö, south west of Stockholm. The sails and the boards on the video is the actual iceboards and sails that got lost at Ekerö.
Reaching the first base of rescue gave me a false sense of security
At this point I saw that there where people close to Jonas trying to help him. I also realized that Jonas didn’t manage to level his body with the water/ice surface. I felt the panic grow.
Reaching the first base of rescue, the sail and the board, gave me a false sense of security. As soon as I laid my hand on the sail the board sank, slowly slowly followed by my favorite sail. I remember thinking “is this for real” a very very surrealistic feeling. The guys had now reached Jonas with rescue lines.
I still I didn’t freeze nor felt tired at all
I started to work my way to safe ice, crushing the ice with my body weight and the seat harness hook. Closer to safe ice the harness hook was my Achilles heel, crushing the ice that normally would have been thick enough to bear my body weight. When I at last lay on the ice I still had a couple of meters to drag my body to a area with ice thick enough to stand on. Still I didn’t freeze nor felt tired at all.
Walking my way towards Jonas I saw that he was safe on the ice, I gave him a hug, glad that we were safe then starting our long way back to the cars. Reaching the cars the andrenaline started to leave my body and the chill entered.
An injury could easily be a game changer
I have gone through ice before but in planned situations, like the military service. This was something totally different (of course). To start with I hurt my hip when I was catapulted from the board. The hip was protected by my seat harness, still I got my first blue mark ever when crashing through the ICE. What I’m trying to say is that when you theorizes about going through ice you assume that you are physically fit for fight, this is not necessary truth. An injury could easily be a game changer when it comes to make your way back to safe ICE.
How your body reacts to a hard core situation
Even if I didn’t feel the cold water you never know how your body reacts to a hard core situation like this. I know that the chill factor shouldn’t be underestimated. A few years ago I helped an ice-skater that had went through the ice. He was well equipped with backpack, i.e. dry clothes in plastic bags. The problem was that the chill came over him immediately making him shiver uncontrollably and his hands/fingers were useless. To get wet clothes of your body summertime is a challenge, add ice-water, the chock and a few minus degrees and you are in big trouble.
Without our fellow iceboarders and ice-skaters the outcome would have been much more uncertain
With hundreds of hours on different ices and different ice conditions it’s easy to lower your guard. Since this was a new spot for us we should have checked a map over the area, the warning signs were there. We should have asked the locals about weak areas.
We are tremendously grateful for the support we got from our fellow iceboarders and skaters. Without them the outcome of this story would have been much more uncertain.
Update regarding ice-prods:
Both Jonas and I used ice-prods. I dont know any Swedish rider not wearing them when on ice. Without the ice prods this would have been a whole different story, i.e. probably someone else writing it.