Sometime early last year, I came across the above video by a Norwegian man by the name of Tor Eckhoff, as many of us did. It was probably attached to a tweet or blog post calling it "the funniest video of ALL TIME," or some variation thereof, and for once, that overuse of superlatives, juxtaposed against what appeared on first click through to be simply a video of a guy going ice skating, got me to sit down and give "På tynn is 4," or "On thin ice 4," a thorough watch.
The video starts off harmless enough, with Eckhoff skating around a lovely frozen lake in a pair of worn-in hockey skates. It's not until 20 seconds in—a lifetime in viral video terms—that Eckhoff does anything outside the ordinary, skating in pseudo-extreme fashion (and quite capably, I might add) over a frozen ridge, before a quick cut to him pretending to crash. "Why in the hell does this video have a few million views?" you ask.
Then the vodka comes out, which Eckhoff knocks back with a characteristic "ahh" of delight. Then his shirt comes off, and suddenly you find yourself watching some random guy skate around an empty, serene lake by himself, while progressively getting less sober and less clothed. Somehow, he's completely impervious to cold. The whole thing looks so damn fun.
The video has stuck with me since I first saw it, providing the fodder for occasional daydreams about quitting the city and internet forever and moving out to the country where I can skate by myself, drink vodka, and wave chainsaws around because why the hell not. (I'm completely serious.) It's also still popular, having once again. hit the front page of reddit earlier this month.
To get a bit more insight into what I do believe is the best winter video ever, I've been Facebook messaging back and forth with Eckhoff for the last couple weeks. The transcript is lightly edited, but I left all the emoticons in.
Motherboard: How can you handle such extreme cold?
Tor Eckhoff: I am not doing anything special, you just have to be mentally prepared, be willing to take the cold. Humans are humans, we are not made for being in icy water, we are not seals or whales. That means it feels very, very cold and you have to take it.
Does drinking help? What's your favorite drink while skating?
Drinking can make you feel warmer for a short time, but as you probably know, alcohol increases loss of heat.
Favorite drink in general is vodka :-)
Haha yeah, drinking does that. I prefer whiskey myself. So, hy did you film your videos in the first place? Did you ever expect them to be so popular?
I have been photographing for many years, and shooting videos feels like a continuing of shooting stills. I am filming for the same reason as taking photographs: I like to do it, to make something. I hoped for viewers, then I in a way gave up, but continued uploading. Then, after "On thin sea ice 2," more viewers came :-)
Awesome. On Thin Ice 4 is my favorite, and it's now passed 3 million views. I think it's my favorite winter video to be honest. How did it happen? Did you plan it?
Thanks :-) I just planned to skate and then going through the ice. Came up with the ice donut idea after started filming :-)
What do you do for a living, if you don't mind me asking?
I don´t mind :-) I am a worker in a paint factory.
What do you think when your fans say you've made Norway proud? And why does Norway seem like such a fun place?
I feel proud :-)
I don't know :-)
I have to ask: How often do you play with chainsaws? Is that a normal thing?
It´s not often that I play with a chainsaw, it's probably not a very normal thing for me to do :-) I am very busy right now, working on a Christmas video!
One last question: What does your family think of your Internet fame?
They like my videos and they like that other people are watching, so they like it :-)