A German wakeboarder has included an under-ice exploit in his latest adventure, which involved constructing a challenging obstacle course out of ice and snow north of the Arctic Circle.
In wakeboarding circles 29-year-old Felix Georgii is known for his creativity in finding new locations and stunts. He selected frozen Jokkmokk lake in northern Sweden as the site, inviting along his friends two-time world champion Dominik Gührs and six-time Austrian champion Dominik Hernler.
For their Red Bull-sponsored Frozen Lake Wake 2023 event, the trio and their support crew created a course by cutting ice-blocks out of the 80cm-thick surface and forming obstacles to jump over and ride through.
The build took 11 days, during which the crew and machinery had to withstand temperatures as low as -32°C. This resulted in frozen beards, chain-saws and pools, which had to be reopened and cleared every morning. In all, 470 tonnes of ice were lifted out of the lake, with about 9 tonnes of that used to create the course.
Georgii wore a 6mm wetsuit while he spent time in the 1°C waters to perfect the keynote underwater stunt. “The other two athletes happily declined the offer to perform under the water!” Red Bull told Divernet.
“Felix did a test a few weeks ahead of the project and tried both a wetsuit and a drysuit,” he said. “He decided on the wetsuit, as he was more flexible in his movements and the temperatures didn’t bother him much while he was constantly moving.
“The ice under which he rode was about 4m long and he needed to hold his breath for 10-15 seconds to get pulled and turn back around at the end.” It might have been a short distance to cover but Georgii still had to learn how to stay calm while being towed inverted under the ice, as German underwater photographer Lorenz Holder worked to frame the perfect shot.
To achieve that, Holder placed his strobes face-down on the ice surface and used the ice as an “amplifier” to shine light through the dark water, freezing Georgii in the moment as he was pulled from one side of the ice opening towards the exit.
It took about 15 minutes and six previous attempts on which the shots were either too dark or the wakeboarder out of focus before Holder was able to obtain the desired result.
“Under water it’s just black everywhere, but you can feel the ice sliding along the board – and that’s a super-awesome feeling,” said Georgii. Whether others will follow his example remains to be seen.
Also on Divernet: Icebreaker: Freediver Sets Record In Speedos, Molchanov’s 180m Breath-Hold – Under Ice, Under Ice, With Altitude, ’Legs Felt Like Lead,’ Says Record Ice-Freediver