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How I Won the Granlibakken Viking Contest
You saw the video and read the story, you clicked and clicked. It all added up and now here I am, your official Viking spokesperson for Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe.
As the video entries came in, and the entry deadline passed, I rested on my laurels a bit. None of the other female Vikings were serious contenders. Unfortunately, not all of the entries were videos. There was a loophole that allowed still picture submissions. Once all of the finalists were named, I saw her picture. Real blonde hair, ginormous boobs and a sculpted six pack, she looked pretty and sexy and mean and much skinnier than me. I panicked. What if they went for the Hollywood version of Viking instead of me? Friends and family assured me they had only included her in the mix so there’d be another girl. But really, they told me, I was a shoo in.
I sent out an invitation to celebrate with me upon my return so that I’d be on the hook to win. Then Joseph and I flew to Tahoe.
Compared to a hostel in Bolivia, our free room at Granlibakken was like the Ritz. Compared to the Ritz, Gralibakken is rather rustic. Being a seasoned hotel pilferer, I cased the joint, found and broke into the nearby kitchen and snagged a few sodas, to Joseph’s ongoing dismay. Not wanting to appear fussy, I made a mental note to wait until I won to ask them for a better room.
The next morning, we consumed obligatorily massive portions of the free hardy breakfast buffet. According to her name tag, our server was Crispina. The bacon was not.
The general manager joined us for coffee and I pumped him for information about the contest and the resort. I was disappointed to learn that the whole Viking angle was intended to be a social media networking effort; I was unlikely to be on display between quarters at the Super Bowl. The conservative board of directors was already nervous about this edgy attempt to reach new audiences and a Scandinavian heritage society had sent in a letter of complaint protesting the perpetuation of the horn wearing Viking stereotype.
After sucking as much information out of the manager as I could, we waddled back to our room and lolled around like a couple of lions who had just gorged on a month’s worth of wildebeest. My anxiety about the imminent competition had me cranky and shrill. I worked it out on the resort’s old school fitness course and by climbing their ski slope, I left my last bit of nervousness at the bottom and came up with my day’s only ground rule at the top: “Whoever has the most fun today wins.”
Time to lace up. My rented latex Viking bodice assumes I’ve got some cleavage to fill it. Unfortunately, even though my ribcage is size XL for a girl, I’ve never had much going on up there. I had hung the bodice boobs from my helmet horns for the night in the hopes that they’d get the idea to point out instead of in. Sadly, even with the encouragement of a padded bra, my bodice boobs remained stubbornly concave, leaving several inches of crawl space between the latex form’s idea of how the girls should be and the disappointing reality. And here I was about to compete against a pair of triple D’s in bunny fur.
I was the first one in the room, and took full advantage of the opportunity to drown the judges in unbridled enthusiasm.
Then Stan “the ringer” walked in. If you’re inclined to make a life sized cardboard cutout of a Viking to place by your resort’s registration desk for photo ops, Stan’s your man. His YouTube video didn’t do him justice. His booming baritone had failed to make my laptop’s speakers rattle, and his ‘haven’t cut it since college’ dark brown hair and abundant tufts of body hair fighting for purchase on every visible bit of skin didn’t transmit so well on that tiny little window either. And the size of him! Standing next to him, I felt elfin. Although it didn’t hurt that he was an actor, Stan didn’t have to do much of anything to come across as muy Viking. He had taken the first plane in his life to come here, all the way from North Carolina. Two layovers and an airport shuttle later, here he was. All 6’5”, 275 lbs of him.
Soon after, the next Viking arrived on a Harley and climbed up the stairs. He was in his 60’s, tall and muscular and carried himself with a regal bearing. He wore real spiraling animal horns mounted onto a metal helmet adorned with fur. Underneath his helmet, his head was shaved as smooth as He was heavily tattooed and pierced and had draped his body with a large wolf skin which he had killed himself. His long, white fu man chu would have looked funny on anyone with a less dangerous look in his eye. Everything about him said, King. His foxy foreign girlfriend reminded me of a French Basque Rizzo.
The rest of the Vikings arrived all at once.
A handsome Swedish looking kid wore a well researched homemade outfit. The Scandinavian heritage society would have eaten him up, as he didn’t have any horns on his helmet.
A gentle Viking, wearing a simple white shirt, jeans and a soft brown horned helmet moseyed in and recognized ginger haired Lognard of the Lake from Reno. They had played rugby together and each hadn't known the other had entered the contest. I had eagerly anticipated meeting Lognard, not least, because I wanted to see if he really was missing his front tooth or if he had blackened it for hte video. Upon initial examination, he appeared to have a full set. But moments later, to my delight, he flipped his tooth out with his tongue and gave us all a gappy grin. Lognard carried a handmade jagged weapon, by the name of "Mitch".
Another Viking wore a ruffly renaissance type of shirt with the sleeves cut off to display heavily tattooed arms, and used his badly behaved but painfully cute malamute puppy as a primary prop.
James, a Viking in his 60’s whose main claim to fame was his enjoyment of beer arrived with his dad, who must have been in his 80’s.
Upon closer inspection, the Viking king had a tattoo on the back of his neck reading, “Fuck Fear.” He and his girlfriend told me that I have a huge fan base among the Hell’s Angels and they all want me to win. Also, I was told that I am welcome at Davidson’s Distillery in Reno any time I want to come claim my crown. His name was Bob. He was a real Hell’s Angel and had almost died more than once. The last time, he forgot how to feel fear and had to go to therapy to be taught to at least feign the sensation.
The other woman arrived. I introduced myself. She said she loved my video. Her husband was with her, miserable to be in civilian clothes since he had submitted a picture of himself, as well. When he found out that only 9 of us had showed up, he told the judges he had his outfit ready in the car and offered to put it on. They assented and he raced off. When he returned, Lognard of the Lake took one look at him and said, “You look like someone on the cover of the kind of book my mom reads.” His blonde hair ran over his tan, shaved body builder’s chest down to his bare butt cheeks. He gleefully told us he had forgotten his g-string and for the first time of what would be dozens showed off his empty ‘balls’, which were glass containers dangling off the front of his medieval tool belt, which was also laden with an assortment of Viking weapons and drinking flasks. We dubbed him Naked Viking.
Now that we were in one place, we were instructed to hang out and have lunch. As soon as we were in the dining room away from the judges, we decided we needed beer. It was a pleasure to be with 9 other people with very determined personalities. We stormed the kitchen and asked the non-English speaking staff for beer. I led the charge with my Spanish. The appearance of 10 armed Vikings in their midst sent the servers quickly to the keg and we finished our first pitchers before they landed on the table. We pushed two tables together and ate as a group. We’d been staring at each other’s YouTube videos for a month and none of us were especially shy, so the beer disappeared and talk came easily.
Here we all are:
There were a few conferences taking place that day – a group of engineer’s and a Christian men’s retreat. The attendees were having lunch as well. A few of the attendees intercepted me in the hallway at one point to find out what we were about. I grunted, “family reunion,” and lumbered past them, swinging my sword and humming Ride of the Valkyries. Others wanted pictures. I discovered how fun it is to pose strangling conservative looking white guys with a bloodthirsty look in my eye.
The judges had handed out the criteria by which we would be judged during our individual interviews for us to think about.
As soon as I saw the first category, which would be weighted by a x3 factor, I knew that triple D had nothing on me.
The criteria (all rated on a scale of 1 – 10 with varying weights) were:
Robust figure (x3)
We picked numbers from a hat. Naked Viking picked 10, Stan picked 1. I got 6. The judges reversed the order and Naked Viking became the test pancake.
We retired to the sunny back patio after shaking down the kitchen staff for more and more pitchers.
Joseph had successfully infiltrated the interview room with my camera.
Naked Viking returned and told us between empty ball jokes and missing g-string reminders that his motto was, “I don’t care if you like me, as long as you remember me.” So here’s to you, Naked Viking, your immortal moment. The King Viking went next. I like him. He reminded me of another motorcycle guy who once took my pre-legal self under his wing on a cross country train ride. He kept me in beers and smokes and didn’t let anyone molest me when I slept in my threadbare maroon leotard and hippie skirt in coach.
We were averaging about 3 pitchers per contestant, with each interview taking about 10–15 minutes. It was just about my turn when we hit the bottom of the first keg. I unleashed my bad Spanish on the kitchen staff and the tap flowed freely again.
We could have ended up hating each other but what a waste of an opportunity to hang out with a bunch of rowdy Vikings. Besides, not to go all Barbie on you, but I just love cheering for people. By the time the third Viking went in, we had settled into our rhythm of cheering for the departing Viking while giving beer and loud congratulations to the returnee every time. It provided some structure for our beer drinking.
You may have noticed that beer drinking figured centrally to all of us that day. I barely touch the stuff out of uniform, but sitting on the patio in fur and horns under that high altitude springtime sun, every sip was a taste of Valhalla.
The judges had not anticipated how important beer drinking would be to us. Joseph told me later that the PR company was quite nervous about potential PR nightmares involving drunken pile ups of horns and swords on the windy roads between the resort and surrounding areas. Also, the presence of so many weapons in the mix of so much beer was quite unsettling for them. They also had not anticipated that we would like each other.
As we reached the bottom of the second keg, we decided we should all win the contest, get a Viking boat and sail it around the lake, snatching people from the shore and dragging them to Granlibakken. They could pay us with beer.
My turn came around at last. I was as jittery and aggressive as a drunk chipmunk. When I was a bargirl in Greece I found out that it took three Amstels for me to climb up onto the bar and dance. Two, and I was still stiff. Four, and I fell off the table. Keeping that in mind, I had tried to keep from getting completely wasted.
I bounded into the room and gave them all a huge hello.
“Please state your name.”
I raised my sword and regrettable fake Norwegian accent possessed me, as I belted out, “I am your KATHERINA! The Viking of Granlibakken!”
They laughed and said, “And why do you want to be the Granlibakken Viking?”
Sadly, I was now committed to that horrid accent. I told them how, as they had seen in my video, I had never really fit in in the modern world. I have always been too big, too much, too loud, too strong. Life is difficult when you are a Viking. I told them that only when I wear the horns and the sword do I feel right in the world. I told them that I always have been a Viking and I never had a place to put it until now. I told them that I have never had a good place to sing my special Viking song, except for when it is someone’s birthday, but then, sometimes, I think it scares them a little. I told them the ad was an invitation to come home for me.
Having baited them with the Viking song reference, they asked me to sing it.
I started out too high, and was a bit worried about how it would go when I reached the highest part. Legs braced, head thrown back, purple faced, sword keeping rhythm, I nailed it.
Next Question: “What are 3 words that describe your Viking style?”
I counted on my fingers and said, “Strong,” (flexing my muscles), “scary, and …get what I want.”
Then it was time for a Scandinavian religion quiz. That Nordic Mythology class I took at Berkeley came in handy. When asked to name some gods for them, I forgot to mention Odin, but endeared myself to the female writer judge with mentions of Freya and Loki, as well as Thor. She made a lutefisk joke and I made a paprika joke back. (Paprika is the official spice of Scandinavian Americans and Minnesotans everywhere.)
“Please take a few seconds to do your best Viking pose.”
“There are a few.”
I approached the bench, threw one leg up on the table, and demonstrated how I shave with my sword. Then I gave them a series of psychotic valkyrie meets muscle man poses.
They asked me if dating is a challenge, being a Viking. (Not all of them knew that Joseph, who was sitting in the back of the room, was my boyfriend.)
I conceded that it is difficult, given that I am loud and sometimes a little bit scary.”But here at Granlibakken,” I told them, “I will not have that problem. Here it is good to be Viking.”
“Tell us about your costume.”
“These clothes? Oh yes. They are problem sometimes. They break and then I don’t know. I break things too much.”
They wanted to know if I was a team player. I told them that we’d been working as a team to drink the resort dry all day and were able to get our first pitchers in 20 minutes only.
They asked me how I would talk about Granlibakken if I were chosen to be the Viking spokesperson. Having infiltrated the resort for the past 16 hours, I launched into a demonstration of how much I enjoyed using their fitness course complete with squats, jumping jacks and forceful exhalations. I expressed relief about how easy it is for a Viking like me to get on the line when I have to take care of my modern world needs. I flung my eyeballs about while licking my lips with gusto as I described their breakfast buffet.
They ran out of questions and I wanted out from my cheesy accent, so the interview ended. I strode out and rejoined the other drunk, sweaty Vikings in the sun, who had just shaken down the kitchen staff for another round.
When the last contestant finished, we were summoned to the room altogether. Some of us wanted it with all of our hearts, some of us didn’t really care, and some of us were too drunk to care and just wanted a nap. The other girl had already declared the day a success, as her worst fear was interviewing and having survived the ordeal, she felt like a winner.
Her Husband, Naked Viking, wanted it bad. We were tired of his empty balls jokes and he hadn’t been an official finalist, so I don’t think anyone really wanted him to win (althought it was pretty Viking of him to show up and compete anyway after not making the cut.)
After a few more group pictures, it was time to announce the winners. They made us put our weapons in the corner. They really were a little scared of us.
They named Stan first, but I wasn’t too worried. I figured I had done well, and besides, I was pretty sure I had had the most fun that day. They called my name next. I found out later I received the highest score out of anyone. According to those judges, I am 96% Viking.
The third Viking, to be chosen by popular vote will be either Lognard of the Lake, Bob the Viking King or the Puppy Viking.
We spent the rest of the weekend in bliss. The only other resort guests for the rest of the weekend were the Christian men’s retreat attendees, who could be heard banging on drums and periodically spotted emerging from darkened rooms wearing matching t-shirts. We basked around the big heated pool eating California cherries and cheese. We soaked in the Jacuzzi after an all day hike in the mountains strewn with seasonal snowmelt waterfalls. We burped, farted and sweated out the remains of our Reno winnings, spent on kangaroo tartare and champagne, in the Scandinavian sauna.
And now, the choice is yours, audience. Do you want to see me hamming it up with Lognard of the Lake? Or shall I assume my throne alongside Bob the Viking King? Or do you want to see me get down with the Viking and his puppy?
You can vote here: http://granlibakken.com/viking.php
Once the 3rd Viking has been chosen, we’ll return to Granlibakken for a video and photoshoot. By that time, the rivers will be warm and calm enough for an all day rafting trip and the snow will have melted enough to reach the upper lakes. Celebrations will surely ensue.
It is good to be Viking royalty, even if it is only in a little known 3 star resort during the off season. However, if any of you know Ellen, tell her I’m ready for my close up. Once again, thanks so much for your support. Long may it continue!
P.S.S. If you're just dropping in now and want to read about how all this started, go here...
P.S.S. And HERE's what happened next...