ALL IN—An Explanation of Halldor Helgason

Words| Stanley Leveille. Originally published in the Oct. 2017 issue of TransWorld SNOWbaording. Subscribe here!

Check out his full part in Arcadia on iTunes here!


“I’M READY WHEN YOUR BALLS ARE,” HE SAID TO ME BEFORE DOING THIS INTERVIEW. HIS INFLECTION IS ADDICTIVE, AND SOMETIMES I FIND MYSELF SUBTLY REARRANGING WORDS FOR A PROVEN COMEDIC HALLDÓR-ESQUE EFFECT. I’M TEMPTED TO START WITH A LONG LIST OF HALLDÓR’S PARTY ANTICS. HIS RECENT MANEUVER IS A HOMEMADE “TRAVEL TOILET” COMPRISED SOLELY OF A CONDOM. DO I NEED TO EXPLAIN THAT? IN FACT, I AIMED TO PAINT HALLDÓR AS SNOWBOARDING’S JEKYLL AND HYDE: BUSINESSMAN BY DAY, PARTY ANIMAL BY NIGHT. BUT UPON FURTHER EXAMINATION, THE EXAMPLE DOESN’T QUITE FIT. THAT TERM DESCRIBES SOMEONE WITH VASTLY DIFFERENT CHARACTER FROM ONE DECISION TO THE NEXT. HALLDOR IS CRAZY AND GENIUS AT ONCE. THERE IS NO ALTER-EGO; HE IS JEKYLL AND HYDE AT THE SAME TIME—A SINGLE POWERFUL ENERGY THAT HAS DEDICATED ITSELF COMPLETELY TO SNOWBOARDING AND ITS VARIOUS FACETS.

YOU SEE, ADEQUATELY DEMONSTRATING THE WAY IN WHICH HALLDÓR HAS MADE A CAREER OUT OF BEING HIMSELF REQUIRES MORE THAN A Q & A. LO, IN ADDITION TO THE SAGE WORDS OF MR. HELGASON HIMSELF, I WILL GUIDE YOU CHRONOLOGICALLY THROUGH SOME OF THE EVENTS THAT PUSHED HALLDÓR TO HIS PLACE AS AN INTERNATIONAL SNOWBOARD ICON. INTERWOVEN INTO THE DISCUSSION WILL BE QUOTES FROM MY CONVERSATIONS WITH HIS BROTHER EIKI, TRANSWORLD SNOWBOARDING FILM DIRECTOR THEO MUSE, RITUAL OF SIN AND METHOD EDITOR MIKE GOODWIN, AND LOBSTER MARKETING MANAGER RYAN SCARDIGLI, KNOWN MORE LOVINGLY AS DIGGLES.


Halldor. PHOTO: Theo Muse

My introduction to Halldór Helgason was in 2010 when I peered up at a dusty television screen broadcasting the Winter X Games. I stared trans – fixed at a baby-faced Icelandic boy with “helgasons.com” scribbled across his upper lip in Sharpie. It made me laugh out loud—a true moment of bril – liance for a nationally televised snowboard event and just the kind of antics snowboarding needed. Prior to this specific moment in time I was faintly aware of the Helgason brothers and their website, but at that moment I had a feeling I was witnessing a legend in the making. We will revisit that night that Halldór would win the X Games in 2010, but allow me first to supply more details about the man I’m tasked to discuss.

The backbone for this piece comes from something Halldór said to me: “IF AN ICEL ANDIC PERSON LIKES SOMETHING. THEY GO ALL IN ON IT. NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. WE LIKE SNOWBOARDING SO WE GO ALL IN. DRINKING? WE LIKE THAT SO WE GO ALL IN. IT’S THE ICEL ANDIC WAY; YOU HAVE TO GO ALL IN. IT’S MORE THAN THAT TOO… IT’S TALENTED ARTISTS; THERE IS SO MUCH TALENT COMING OUT OF ICEL AND COMPARED TO HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LIVING THERE.” Having spent ten days in Iceland with Halldór ‘s family while working on Eiki’s documentary, Island Born, I met a community of Icelandic people in their hometown. If anything can be said about these islanders, it’s that they go all-fucking-in on whatever they enjoy. According to Eiki, “WE’RE A SMALL NATION, SO WE WANT TO IMPRESS PEOPLE, BUT WE ALSO COME FROM THE MOST INTENSE VIKINGS—PEOPLE THAT NOBODY WANTED AROUND. IT’S JUST IN OUR NATURE TO COMPLETELY SEND IT.”

Halldor strolling outside the old fabric in Sundsvall. PHOTO: Daniel Bernstal

For reference, we’re talking about an island whose national soccer team made an unprecedented appearance in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Euro – pean Championships, and an estimated 12% of the entire island population traveled to France to support the team. Meanwhile, back at home, it can be assumed the remaining 88% were tuned into the game. All in. Halldór is a poster-child for this Icelandic mentality. Halldor says, “I’M KNOWN FOR BEING WHO I AM IN ICELAND. AND THAT HAS CHANGED OVER TIME. WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I WAS REALLY LOOSE AND BANNED FROM EVERY SINGLE BAR EXCEPT ONE IN MY HOMETOWN. EVERYBODY HAS SEEN ME NAKED IN ICELAND AS WELL. PEOPLE AREN’T SURPRISED TO SEE ME NAKED.”

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