Flying Pig Productions Home News and Events Web Work writing Yoga Life Coaching whales of guerrero research project Viking Zines Bellycasting Dreamboards Mailing List Nesting Project resumes the basement Surprise Me home -> Viking -> How I Won the Granlibakken Viking Contest home -> Viking -> Everything's Better With Horns On

Part I: I Never Wanted To Be A Valkyrie
Part II: The Audition

Everything’s Better with Horns On

Recap: Granlibakken, a ski resort in Tahoe with Scandinavian roots released a call for Vikings to model in a photo shoot in April 2009. Being no stranger to Viking songs, an experienced plunderer and sporting a robust physique, I felt called to the job. After running the gauntlet of a video submission process, and in person auditions, Stan Wood and I were chosen as the two of the three who would serve as Granlibakken’s official Vikings. The third Viking, Bob McCuiston, completed the trio with over 2000 audience votes in his favor. We flew down to Tahoe in August 2009 for a photo shoot full of sweaty Viking mayhem.

Photo shoots are almost as fun as fishing, but like fishing, they usually start at the crack of dawn, which is usually a problem for me. Joseph and I rolled out of bed at 6:45 AM in our luxurious studio suite complete with pitched ceilings, good art, a fireplace, a kitchen, a balcony and no bad smell. But it was good to wake up at Granlibakken even at this obscene hour.

I had some pre-coffee coffee as I donned my plastic and pleather Viking garb, making sure to stuff my bustier with socks this time so that my cleavage wouldn’t go concave on me. The next chance I’d have to drink coffee would be on film.

Unlike entering a Greek bar as that night’s featured dancer or bursting through the walls of a giant birthday cake into a room full of celebrants, the appearance of an armed Viking in Granlibakken’s dining hall so early in the morning was not met with cheers. There were no other Vikings in sight, although the photo shoot was scheduled to begin momentarily. An international conference was taking place at the resort and the breakfast tables were populated with people from many nations, all of them watching me with bewilderment. I hunkered down in a corner and waited for my comrades to arrive.

Bob and Stan arrived shortly after and now that we were a cluster of grownups in costume, a small child identified this as a Disney moment and asked us for photos and autographs. Stan and Bob are both real actors, so this came naturally to them. I forgot how teeny tiny I feel when I am standing in between those two. Like a delicate little fairy.

Knowing I was about to eat copious amounts of food with my hands, I abstained from a pre-breakfast breakfast in uncharacteristic Katherina fashion, although the buffet looked quite tasty. Once the lighting and cameras were set up, we proceeded to stack our plates high with scrambled eggs and blintzes, mash bread pudding and quiche into each other’s faces, and drip great gobs of oatmeal directly from the serving platter into our mouths. We sat down at a table and dropped warm breakfast foods on some guests, force feeding others sausages from the tips of our swords.

The day’s shot list was packed, so we moved along quickly. Many of the shots were meant to be visual puns for a postcard series highlighting the resorts event facilities such as ‘scalable’ internet, showing Vikings on a climbing wall and ‘high speed’ internet, showing Vikings running on a track.

The crew set up the most ambitious shot of the day to be the earliest: the outdoor climbing wall. Just one month earlier, on my only ice climbing attempt ever, I learned how much I dislike hanging by a rope from high and also how little I trust rope holders. I wished we had demanded some beer with our breakfast because only liquid courage could make me feel safe up there.

Stan is 6’4” and weighs over 275 lbs. He’s real strong but he smokes a lot and isn’t made for wall climbing, especially when he is in his slick-bottomed turn-of-the-century knee-high pirate boots. My fur encased Uggs and Bob’s suede slippers weren’t much better. They wanted to hang us from the wall in a boy-girl-boy order so Stan ascended first. We  ahhhed like he was a tightrope walker as he muscled his way up the telephone pole on the side of the wall, gasping when he slipped off of the small rungs, which functioned as foot holds.

Once Stan was up there, it was my turn to climb. I had studied Stan’s moves and plotted my strategy, so I climbed up the side quickly reached Stan’s feet, about 20 feet up, looked down, quaked, and wrapped my arms around the pole like a sweaty overweight koala.

Koala Bear Vikings
See? Viking Koala Bears.


Bob was next. He’s as tough as they come with mean tattoos and fight scars to prove it, but his knee was blown up like a cantaloupe from a recent injury and couldn’t take any weight. So the crew shoved him up a ladder and tied him off leaving him dangling below us. I was hanging directly above Bob. My cape getting caught in his horns. The three of us spontaneously burst into a hearty rendition of the Monty Python anthem, “Sit on my Face,” because we are members of the same loud sweaty tribe
Once the hard part was over, we were led to a sunny forest alcove where weight lifting equipment awaited.

Weight Lifting VikingsWeight Lifting Vikings

Stan specialized in weight lifting with rocks,
Weight Lifting with Rocks
while I was drawn to the sled.

Bob Pulls KatherinaWeight Sled

Weight Sled

My on demand pole dance series was a red flag to the PR company that with or without alcohol, we really are reckless vikings.

pole dancing viking

Since Stan and Bob are dedicated smokers, and no one can really run well in fur and boots anyway, instead of running, we were instructed to stand in running like positions as the photographer shot us.

The resulting photographs look like vikings pretending to run.

fake runningfake running vikings
(some worked out okay)

real running vikingsvikings finish line

vikings finish linevikings finish line

After lunch, it was time to highlight the facilities.


We shanghaied the conference room,

conference room vikings
played a little music,
viking band
took over the reception area,
vikings reception area

and ended up in my studio suite to highlight its luxurious amenities.

But there’s only so much you can do to show off a hotel kitchen. By the time we turned our focus to the microwave we had run out of ideas and things got strange. We began hysterically shredding up bits of napkins and tea bags, throwing them into the microwave and somehow, I ended up dancing on the countertop. Bob and Stan crawled into bed and I pretended to read them a bedtime story from the folder of Granlibakken information. Now that we were inside and away from the guests, even the restaurant descriptions and resort activities became inappropriate jokes. Any shower shots the staff had in mind, were quickly abandoned, having seen how quickly things could go pear shaped. Bob sometimes needs to get hosed down in bar fights because he’s having too much fun and when Stan is not being a Viking, he can be found playing a crazy street preacher, a pirate, or practicing his roar. And someone forgot to turn on the self-consciousness switch in my brain when they made me and sent me to earth, much to my friends’ and family’s ongoing chagrin. The hotel staff quickly brought us back outside, hoping that that would make us behave ourselves.

We crashed resort bikes into each other, tried to play tennis,

vikings play tennis
stormed the sledding hill, and finally hit the hot tub.
vikings hot tub

The General Manager of the resort treated us to a gorgeous boat ride on the impossibly blue Lake Tahoe. As we cruised along the coast, we fantasized about procuring a Viking ship in which to have a reunion and kidnap people to Granlibakken.

The resort fed us steak, chocolate mousse and wine, then we dragged our weary selves to bed to dream Viking dreams of more paid pillaging in the future.

laughing vikings

Viking sized thanks go out to:
Joseph for taking these pictures and holding up the sky for me,
Bob McCuiston and Stan Wood, superstars,
Kristina Malsberger for directing and editing the winning video
Shufina and Georgia English for coming to Granlibakken for the weekend as witnesses,
the incredibly lovely staff of Granlibakken Resort for being so nice to us,
and the PR geniuses at Weidinger PR for making this all happen,

and to all of you who voted for me to become the Granlibakken Viking, thanks for making my dream job come true!

Long may it continue!

Part I: I Never Wanted To Be A Valkyrie
Part II: The Audition

Unedited Viking Pictures

More Stories

Contact Me

Harley Bob
Bob out of uniform

Viking with a Pearl Earring
Viking with a Pearl Earring