The waiting was the worst part of this competition. Waiting meant being confined in that tent just outside the starting booth, watching the other competitors leave one after another, trying to block out the commentary spilling from the saturated speakers...
Jyn was trying to focus on her ride, trying to take it as any other competition; but it wasn't any other competition. It was the Scarif Ride, the only path to get to the Death Star Ride, the Holy Grail of the professional snowboard competitions.
Her head snapped up at the sound of her coach approaching.
“Only two left and it's you,” Saw said with a smile.
Jyn nodded, got up. She started her warm-up and stretching routine one last time, Saw guiding her through the moves.
Finally, she got out of the tent and into the starting booth. Saw buckled her helmet, clapped her shoulder.
“Be one with the board, I know.”
He let her go after a quick hug. The staff member next to her started counting down to the start.
The first part was easy, a steep wall ending with two rails. She slid frontside on one then jumped on the other backside and finished the trick with a twist 180 before tackling the next obstacle, a larger rail ending with a small cliff. She performed a backflip 360 and landed smoothly, picking up speed for the last trick. The Scarif Ride was known for its impressive ramp, one of the best to perform air tricks as high and as complex as possible.
She had trained for that ramp with one trick in mind, a backside double cork 1260. Saw had called her too reckless, not realistic enough, but she had managed to land it perfectly a few times. She only had to do it again. Easy.
She heard the roar of the crowd and the frantic exclamations of Art and Pio, the commentators, as she went up in the air but blocked out the noises to focus on her position. The hardest part wasn't the trick in itself, it was the landing. After so many spins, finding her balance wasn't an easy task.
The moment her board touched the ground, she knew it wasn't going to end well. She fell and tumbled in the snow. The world became a blur of white and cold and when it finally stopped moving, she found herself on her back, staring at the clear blue sky and trying to catch her breathing, the crowd a dull rumor above her.
“Jyn! Jyn, you okay?”
She gathered herself and rose on her elbows to see her brother running toward her. She waved at him and she heard Pio shout “She's fine, she's fine!” in an anxious but relieved voice. Bodhi fell to his knees beside her.
“Yes, Bodhi, I'm fine. Don't worry.”
She started to unbuckle her feet.
“You got anything good?” she asked, gesturing at the camera dangling across his body. His face lit up.
“Yeah, I'll show you later.”
He helped her stand up and she tried to shake as much snow from her as possible before waving to the cameras with a self depreciating smile. She wasn't gonna compete in the Death Star Ride this year, that was for sure.
They exited the track and Saw found them a few minutes later. He engulfed her in a massive bear hug.
“Are you hurt?”
“Only my dignity,” she answered. “Also I need air.”
“You scared me. I told you you weren't ready for that trick. You should've done a double cork 720.”
She rolled her eyes.
“I've been doing the double cork 720 for the past two years, I don't want to become predictable.”
Saw sighed, hugged her again and disappeared in the crowd, talking about finding someone from the sponsors or something.
“So,” Bodhi started, taking her in a headlock, “how about grabbing a beer? I need a drink after watching my little sister almost break her neck.”
She struggled against him, but despite his lanky frame, Bodhi had strength and wasn't gonna let her go so easily.
“Alright, alright! Lemme change first, I'm fucking soaked.”
“Hotel lobby in thirty,” he said as he released her. She saluted him and left the competition area after leaving her board with the competition staff.
Their hotel wasn't far and she did a quick job of removing her wet clothes and hopped in the shower. She felt a few bruises starting to form on her legs and lower back, but she counted herself lucky not to have broken any bones in her fall.
She toweled herself dry, tied her hair in a messy bun and grabbed clothes randomly. Neither her nor Bodhi where what you might call tidy and their hotel room looked like a suitcase had exploded inside. While she managed to put on skinny jeans that were definitely hers, the hoodie was Bodhi's, its too long sleeves covering her hands. She slipped on a pair of sneakers, grabbed her wallet and joined Bodhi in the lobby.
The bar was already packed, mostly male snowboarders she recognized from the morning session of the competition. Some recognized her as well.
“Nice fall, kiddo!”, she heard from a guy in the back. She vaguely waved in his direction and followed Bodhi to the counter to order their beers, then they found a free booth and sat down on either sides of the table.
“To my non-DSR qualification!”
“To your next year DSR qualification!”
Jyn snorted and took a long swig of her drink.
“Fuck that's good. So, are you gonna show me the pictures or do I have to beg?”
Bodhi shook his head but turned on his camera and gave it to her. She scrolled through the pictures, zooming in and out to analyze her position, trying to see where she had gone wrong in her jump.
“If you ignore the ones where I'm mid-fall, you could almost believe that that backside double cork 1260 was perfect. We could send this one to Dad,” she pointed to one where she was mid-jump, “followed by this one right after,” she pointed to the one where she was under a wave of snow, having clearly butchered her landing.
“Yeah, I'm sure he'd appreciate it.”
They drank their beers commenting the performances of the other competitors Bodhi had shot, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. Bodhi wasn't competing, not really fond of the pressure, but he had a sharp eye for details and techniques.
“That guy,” he showed her the picture of a beige and brown clad man, taken mid jump. She remembered him. American, younger than her but with a indescribable talent. “See his arm? It didn't move during the entire spin.”
“What was his name again? Lukas?”
“Luke. Luke Skywalker. He qualified for the DSR. His sister was riding too. Not quite as technical but terribly elegant.”
Jyn drained her beer.
“Careful there, I might start to think that you wanna ditch me for them,” she laughed and got to her feet to get them a second pint each.
“You're my sister, I can't ditch you!” he called after her.
Getting to the counter wasn't as easy as the first time. With the day's sessions over, people were rushing to the bars. Snowboarders were known for their love of beer after all. Jyn was glad they were in Italy and not in the USA, where she was still considered too young to drink.
She nudged her way through the crowd and finally reached the counter. She should've sent Bodhi, at least he wasn't risking getting crushed because he wasn't reaching most people's eye level.
She raised the empty glasses to the barman who nodded and started filling up two glasses again.
She turned toward the voice. Two guys were leaning against the counter, one extremely tall, with asian features and prematurely grey hair and the other a bit shorter, quite tan, his long black hair sticking out from under his beanie.
“We saw you today. Except for the landing, your final trick was pretty neat,” the second one said before drinking from his pint of stout. She couldn't pinpoint his accent but she was pretty sure she had seen him ride in the morning.
The barman slid her beers down to her and she handed a bill, telling him to keep the change.
“Thanks,” she said to the two guys. “We have a booth, wanna join?”
They exchanged a glance. The tallest one shrugged.
“Sure, why not”, he answered with a distinctively British accent.
Jyn grabbed her beers and went back to their booth. Bodhi gave her a questioning glance when he saw the two guys behind her but didn't say anything when they sat down.
“Guys, this is Bodhi. Bodhi this is two random dudes who liked my disaster.”
The one who had sat down next to her snorted.
“Nice way of introducing us. I'm Cassian, this is my buddy Kay.”
Kay raised his beer silently.
“Yeah I remember you, you competed this morning, right? I think I shot you actually.”
As Bodhi was scrolling through his hundreds of pictures, Jyn turned toward the newcomers.
“So. Kay. You're English?”
“From Liverpool, yes. From your accent I'd say you're from London?”
“And yet you're riding under the Swiss flag. How's that?”
“We've been living in Geneva for the past... Hey, Bodhi when did we move to Geneva?”
“Nine years ago,” he answered, not even rising his head from his camera screen.
“For the past nine years, then.”
“You both moved to Geneva at the same time?” Kay asked with a rather confused expression on his face.
“Well yeah,” she shrugged. “Our father got a job at CERN so we didn't have much choice.”
Her declaration was met with a silence. She glanced up from her beer to see Cassian looking from her to Bodhi several times.
“Did I not mention we're siblings?”
“You didn't,” Bodhi said flatly, still searching for the shots he had taken of Kay and chewing on the end his hoodie's string. “There! Got you!”
He turned the camera triumphantly. On the screen, Kay, dressed in all black, was in the middle of an inverted 360.
“Nice. Did you qualify for the DSR?” Jyn asked.
“No. I got beaten at the last minute by Han Solo. Bloody American.”
She turned to Cassian.
“What about you?”
He shook his head.
“I was really awful today. I hope you don't have any pictures of me, Bodhi,” he added laughing.
“I'm looking actually. You were dressed in navy with a Spanish patch on the back, right?”
“And Mexican. But yeah, I spent most of my life in the Pirineos.”
“Nice! I love riding in the Pyrenees. Are you going to the Fest Tour this year?”
“Yeah. One of my friends will be there too, maybe you know him. Kes Dameron?”
“Can't say I do. I only started the senior circuit this year.”
They all leaned toward the center of the table where Bodhi was holding the camera. On the screen, Cassian was clearly struggling to hold his position. Jyn remembered now. That one has ended in a spectacular fall as well.
“What the hell were you trying to do?”
“A 900? I think?”
The rest of the evening was spent talking and sharing stories about previous competitions, memorable rides, how to land the hardest tricks and which riders to avoid drinking with if you didn't want to wake up with the worst hangover. Apparently Han Solo, the other American veteran (meaning they were older than 25) Lando Calrissian, and their Czech American friend Baca were notorious dangers when it came to alcohol. Kay also had a few stories about Art, one of the commentators.
“He's half my height but he can drink twice as much without blinking.”
The bar closed at 2 in the morning, but despite the alcohol and the exhaustion of spending a day on her board, Jyn wasn't ready to sleep.
“Wanna go back to our hotel and play some games? We have a deck of Uno.”
Next to her, Bodhi was nodding excitedly.
“C'mon it's like, two streets over!”
They grabbed a couple of packs of beer in the 24/7 mini-market and headed to the hotel. By the time they got there, Jyn was freezing, still only wearing a tshirt and Bodhi's hoodie.
“Fuuuuck fuckfuckfuck, c'mon guys, hurry up!”
“Why didn't you take a fucking jacket, it's December!” Bodhi exclaimed.
“It wasn't that cold earlier!”
Once in their room, Jyn piled up the clutter on her bed to clear a spot on the floor and fished the Uno game from one of her bags. She and Bodhi were ruthless, but Kay was calculating and methodical while Cassian was attempting to guess which cards the others had in their hands.
There was a lot of shouting, a lot of swearing and a lot of alcohol.
When she woke up the next morning, Jyn was glad she wasn't riding that day. She made a mental note to add Kay and Cassian to the list of riders who were dangerous to drink with.