Jamie Barrow, towed behind a commercial aircraft while snowboarding, reaches a top speed of 125Kph!
With the initial plan was to perform the stunt on the frozen lake of St. Moritz in tatters after authorities had ruled the ice being deemed too unstable, the whole operation moved to a small remote airport situated in the picturesque snow covered Engadin valley. After extensive negotiations and battling against strict Swiss regulations, the date was finally set for Saturday 31st January. Being a fresh -17 degrees but a beautiful sunny day without a cloud to be seen, the conditions were perfectly set.
Usually only used for flying around only the extremely rich and wealthy, it was decided that the luxurious and powerful PC12 aircraft would be used to tow Jamie, flown by the charismatic Swiss pilot Duri Joos.
With photographers and film crews flown in from all over the world including from the Discovery Channel and DJI, the event was organised with military like precision, with the timing being crucial as private aircrafts were landing and taking off throughout the afternoon.
Barrow arrived at the airport in style in a Mitsubishi ASX and was immediately required to be interviewed by the various film crews. Mitsubishi were the main sponsors of Jamie Barrow and played a crucial part to the funding of the project. The Mitsubishi ASX tagline ‘Adventure Advanced’ couldn’t have been more appropriate.
After the initial interviews, all the crew and airport management had a project meeting in a packed conference room to discuss the details of the stunt and the positions of the various film crews on the runway. A long strip of snow covered grass that runs parallel to the runway had been piste-bashed for Jamie to snowboard on.
Barrow was then taxied to the end of the runway where he prepared for the stunt. The danger of being towed on a thin strip of grass parallel to the runway was that at high speed Barrow could easily be pulled onto the tarmac with devastating consequences. Also with only a wooden handle tied to the end to grasp onto, It would prove to be a show of strength, stamina and concentration just to hold on. The other issue was that because Jamie could not snowboard directly behind the aircraft he would need to keep on one edge throughout the stunt making it far more likely to catch an edge and crash.
After a few more final adjustments, Jamie gave the go ahead and the PC-12 started to accelerate rapidly down the runway, the rope tightened and Jamie sped down the snowy grass strip in a straight line. Everyone held their breath as the aircraft powered down the runway, but Barrow looked composed and in control throughout. When the aircraft had reached the designated marker, Barrow let go and skidded to a halt with wild celebrations being heard throughout the airport.
Now with a greater understanding of what was involved and a craving for bigger and better, Jamie decided to have another run, but this time telling the pilot to go even faster. Again, the PC-12 powered down the runway noticeably faster than the last run. A spray showered from the back of Jamie’s snowboard as he sliced through the snow before finally letting go. After checking the timing equipment it was established that Jamie had reached a speed of 121kph. Jamie was ecstatic but determined that he could go faster!
After persuading the pilot for one more run and a small window of opportunity with time in regards to flight schedules, it was all set up for the final run. The tension was high amongst the crew as Jamie instructed the pilot to go even faster but as he set off it was obvious that Jamie was a lot more confident and comfortable at the high speed. When Jamie had reached the end of the run he punched the air in celebration knowing, without needing the assistance of the time-check equipment, that he had topped the last speed. As it happens it was confirmed that Jamie reached a speed of 125kph!
An ecstatic Jamie punched the air in celebration. His relived parents, strong and controlled throughout, ran over to embrace their son, unable to hide their emotions.
In an interview after the event, an ecstatic Jamie Barrow was more than pleased with how well the stunt went with the speeds he reached and claimed that he could go even faster if the aircraft was allowed to take off by the Swiss authorities. Jamie hinted that there could be a part two to this amazing adventure – Let’s hope so!
All photos by Matt Badenoch Photography
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)