Haakanson fires up Sierra boarders | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Haakanson fires up Sierra boarders

Sarah Gonser

Terje Haakonsen, the controversial three-time halfpipe world champion of the International Snowboarding Federation, made a guest appearance at Sierra-at-Tahoe’s halfpipe Monday.

Haakonsen, known in the snowboard world as “The Legend,” joined approximately 50 snowboarders, including Sierra Educational Foundation team members, for a few hours of grabs and 360’s in the spring-like afternoon conditions.

Although Haakonsen spoke little and rode hard – flying almost 15 feet off the lip of the halfpipe during some of his famed inversions – his fans were awed by his appearance, skill and mastery of the sport.

“It’s just completely inspiring. Watching him keeps me going higher and higher,” said Brian Richardson, who rides for Burton. “He’s doing it. He’s putting in the work. If he can, then we sure can, too.”

Haakonsen struck a blow to the world of competitive snowboarding when he boycotted the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, objecting to having the International Skiing Federation organize the snowboarding events and comparing the International Olympic Committee to the mafia.

“When I say mafia, I mean what most people see in the word: people who take over control but never let anyone have an inside look at what they are doing,” Haakonsen told Sweden’s TV4 in December 1998.

“The fact is that the big-wigs ride in limousines and stay in fancy hotels while the athletes live in barracks in the woods,” he stated in another interview.

Admirers speculated that Haakonsen, staying with a friend who lives in Tahoe, came to Sierra because it now has the best halfpipe in the area.

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