The next morning a thick blanket of fog was covering the entire resort. Anything more than ten meters away was lost behind a blurry greyish curtain. The mountains had vanished and the only indication that the sun was rising was a hazy glow coming from the east.
The streets were still deserted: only the odd delivery and service truck was driving around.
“I feel like we're in Silent Hill,” Jyn said, avoiding a melting pile of dirty snow mixed with gravel and gasoline. “We should watch it again soon,” she added. “Watch all of them. Even the really bad ones.”
“And I will never sleep again,” Bodhi answered.
The wind had died down in the night but the air was still sharp and cold. Their fingers were numb despite the gloves and undergloves, stiff where they were holding on the snowboards. Jyn transferred her board to her left arm and shook the numbness out of her right one. A thorough warm up was going to be mandatory. She had heard too many stories about snowboarders getting injured during their free time because they hadn't warmed up properly. Saw would kill her for such a ridiculous mistake and her father would take it as a sign that it was time for her to become a responsible adult with real decent career plan instead of an immature hobby.
They reached the wooden barriers signaling the entrance to the ski trails starting point. They slowly trudged their way up to the cable car station, the furthest building away from the entrance. They walked by still closed ski lifts, an empty ski pass office and one functioning chairlift with no one around.
“It's like we're the only people alive here and this lift is haunted,” Jyn commented, hiking her board across her shoulders.
Bodhi glared at her. “You do realize that right now we're like at the beginning of a horror movie, right?”
Jyn snorted. “Yes and we're gonna get into the cable car and the guys will be there but once we'll be up they'll turn into zombies and we'll have to jump from the wagon and hide into a crevasse and then I'll have to kill you and eat you to survive.”
“Why am I the one being eaten?” Bodhi protested. “I'm all skin and bones. I should be the one eating you, you have more muscles.”
Jyn shrugged the best she could between her board and her backpack. “You couldn't do it.”
“Oh and you could?”
“Whatever it takes to survive, mate.” She turned her head to him to flash him a grin and barked a laugh when she saw his furrowed brows peaking from under his beanie.
“You worry me sometimes,” he mumbled.
The cable car station finally appeared through the fog a few meters away from them. They climbed the wooden stairs, pulled the set of heavy doors and hurried inside. Bodhi grimaced at the acrid smell of old metal and mechanical oil coming out of the multiple beams, ropes, rigs and pulleys.
They showed their ski passes to the lone, clearly bored, employee and sat on the bench running along an entire wood-panelled wall.
“You think they saw the weather and thought we weren't doing this anymore?” Jyn asked after several minutes of reading the various posters and signs plastered across the room. Most of them were at least 15 if not 20 years old. One was in French and Jyn couldn't guess for the life of her if the prices showed were in new or old francs. She was also pretty sure that the kid skiing on that same poster was on wood skis.
It was a bit absurd to still have sunglasses ads from the eighties and posters for soda brands long gone, but Jyn liked that about small ski resorts. They had a soul, a story. It wasn't the madness and luxury orgy that she had witnessed in some super expensive ski resorts, with hi-tech gadgets, heated lift benches, jacuzzi in every hotel room and champagne on top of the ski slopes. People there were more interested in taking the perfect picture for their Instagram account than in actually enjoying the snow and the mountains. They just wanted to say that they had been skiing in Aspen, Gstaad or Courchevel when their colleagues would ask them how they had gotten a tan in the middle of the winter.
“They would have called us,” Bodhi said.
“Or maybe they got lost and have been eaten by the creatures hiding in the mist,” Jyn replied with spooky hand gestures.
“We're not in a Stephen King movie. What are you doing with your hands?”
“Ghost hands.” She dropped them back in her lap. “You're the one who said we were horror movie characters,” she pointed out, leaning her elbows on her knees, her chin on one hand.
Bodhi sighed. It wasn't long before he made to stand up when the doors opened on Kay and Cassian.
“Hey guys,” Bodhi greeted them. “See Jyn? Not eaten by creatures of the mist,” he added in her direction.
“What?” Cassian half-asked half-laughed as he and Kay showed their passes to the still alone, still bored, employee.
“We were wondering if you had bailed on us or if you two had become the first thirty seconds of a Supernatural episode,” Jyn answered.
Kay snorted. “Cassian compared the weather to Silent Hill, but Supernatural works too.”
Jyn didn't need to turn toward Bodhi to see the shit-eating grin splitting his face. She knew her brother like the back of her hand and she could almost hear his thoughts about her and Cassian, as if making the same pop culture references meant that they clearly were soulmates.
Jyn clapped her hands once. “Alright, now that everyone's here, it's equipment check time!”
They went through the list they all knew by heart, checking the batteries on the avalanche beacons safely secured around their chests, making sure they all had a shovel and a probe, a first aid kit, snacks and water.
After checking the avalanche risk report and the weather one last time with the cable car employee, they climbed into the wagon and started the ascension to the top of the mountain range. Everything was grey outside the windows and they couldn't see the mountains or the ski resort.
“Do you really think the guy was right and it's clear above the tree line?” Bodhi asked, unconvinced about the whole thing.
“Yeah don't worry,” Cassian replied with a wave. “It's always like that in the morning 'round here. The sky is very low and then you climb a bit and suddenly you can see for miles and miles away above the clouds. You'll see.”
Sure enough, the wagon emerged from the fog after a few minutes of ascending. The mountain range stood before and behind them, a stark contrast against the cloudless blue sky. They all blinked in front of the blindingly bright snow.
Around them, the mountain peaks were islands surrounded by a white ocean, waves of clouds licking their sides, hiding the valley under a thick sea of rolling fog. True to Cassian's words, each mountain peak was shadowed by another, less clear and white than the previous one, until a vague, light blue silhouette was all they could make out on the horizon.
Bodhi whistled and plastered his face to a window. “Okay, that's pretty cool.”
Cassian laughed, a small, secretive smile on his lips, the same kind of smile he had had when Jyn had complimented him on the track the day before. Like then, she sort of wished to get closer to him to see if he really was a blusher. She caught herself staring at his lips and quickly dropped her gaze to the cabin floor, hoping he hadn't noticed. She didn't want things to get weird. She glanced at Bodhi to see if he had seen any of what had just happened, but he was still mesmerized by the view. Her relief was short-lived when she caught Kay staring at her with a knowing and calculating look in his eyes. She frowned. He smirked and tilted his head in Cassian's direction. She immediately shook her head in the most discreet way possible. Bodhi was still at the window and Cassian was checking his snowboard straps but she didn't want to take the risk of them wondering about her silent argument with Kay.
The cable car stopped with a jerk. Outside, the entire mountain range was spread out in front of them, an abstract composition of cliffs, glaciers, forests and snow emerging from the clouds. Bodhi skipped ahead, already fiddling with his camera settings. Knowing her brother, he probably regretted not having packed his analog camera: he loved taking black and white film pictures of the mountains when the contrast was so high. Cassian joined him but Kay lingered behind, standing right next to Jyn.
“So. Cassian, uh?” he said.
She held up a hand. “Nope. Whatever you think you saw back there, it's not real.”
“I'm not having this conversation right now,” she sing-songed and skipped away from him, walking past the ski patrol cabin.
Cassian and Bodhi had turned away from the valley and were facing the top of the mountain, apparently talking about their itinerary. She got closer to them. Cassian extended a hand toward a saddle in the range and Jyn only caught the end of his explanation.
“...we climb up and then it's on.” He dropped his hand. “Ready?” he asked Bodhi.
Cassian patted him on the back, smiling, open. Not for the first time, Jyn wondered how someone could be so damn friendly. How friendship could come so easily to him. How he could just let himself be open, let others get in and act like it wasn't one of the most terrifying things on the planet. Cassian always acted as if he had known them for ages when it had only been three encounters over the course of four months. In the end, they hardly knew each other. And yet here they were.
Cassian turned to her.
“Hey, did we lose Kay already?” he asked her. She looked behind her, expecting to see Kay's black clad silhouette, but no one was there.
“Looks like it,” she shrugged.
After a few minutes, Kay jogged back to them from the ski patrol cabin.
“I gave our itinerary to the patrol, we're good to go now,” he said and hiked his snowboard on his shoulder, starting to climb in the direction of the mountain pass Cassian was pointing at a few minutes earlier. Bodhi followed behind him, with Jyn and Cassian bringing up the rear.
“You didn't take the splitboard?” Jyn asked when Cassian started walking with his board across his shoulders.
He shook his head. “Nah. The state of the snow and our hiking path don't justify the hassle, you know.”
The ascension took them the better part of what was left of their morning and they took advantage of the flat section of the saddle to have a quick snack break. Kay and Cassian promised them they only had one last slope to climb before the real fun could begin.
They had to use their boards as leverage for the last steep portion of the climb but the view at the top was worth the shot. The Pyrenees were extending all around them, rows after rows of peaks, valleys and ranges, veiled in blue and white. Cassian pointed to a peak at the south east.
“That's el Aneto, the highest peak of the Pirineos, and just next to it is el Pico Maldito on the left and in front of it is el Monte Perdido.”
“I don't even speak Spanish but those last two names sound awfully gloomy,” Jyn pointed out.
Cassian chuckled. “Wanna know why they're named this way?” he asked. Behind him, Kay made frantic shutting down motions.
“Sure.” Jyn smirked. Kay facepalmed.
“Alright so basically, in the old times, people were calling places very pragmatic names, yes? And in the Aneto valley, there's a plant that grows and it's called el eneldo, or anet in Catalan. In English it's- hum. Kay?”
“Dill. How do you forget? You ask me every time you tell the story!”
Cassian shrugged. “Whatever. So the people basically called the mountain 'the place where dill grows' even though it's covered in snow and there's no way anything is growing up there.” He paused.
Jyn and Bodhi exchanged a glance.“That's it?” Jyn said.
“There is another story about this place. There's a legend that says that the mountain is actually a giant called Aneto sleeping and you can hear him cry during storms.”
“Does the giant has anything to do with dill too?” Bodhi asked.
“I don't know, my grandfather never said anything about that.”
“What about the other two?” Jyn said. If one peak was named after a mythological giant, the other two were probably a reference to something just as cool.
“Well,” Cassian started with a grimace, “el Monte Perdido basically means the Lost Mount.”
“Creepy,” Jyn commented.
Kay cleared his throat. “Wait for it.”
“Because it's quite isolated from the rest of its range,” Cassian finished.
Jyn flatly stared at him. “Are you serious? No scary story about lost explorers? What about the other one?”
“El Pico Maldito means the Damned or the Cursed Peak-”
“Now we're getting somewhere,” Jyn said. Kay tried to stifle his laughter.
“-because almost every guy who tried to climb it the first few times during the 19th century died because they didn't have the right equipment yet.”
“That's it? You have a mountain called the Cursed Peak and there's no ghost story, no weird disappearance or radioactive corpses?” Jyn exclaimed.
“That's the Dyatlov Pass Incident,” Bodhi sighed.
“And that's not even a mystery, everything can be explained with the Kármán vortex infrasound theory,” Kay added.
Jyn stared at them, defeated. “Stop ruining a perfectly good creepy event.”
Kay shrugged. “Science wins every time,” he said, smug and unapologetic, making Cassian burst into laughter.
Kay and Bodhi headed down first, Kay because he was familiar with the environment and Bodhi because he needed to shot Jyn as she was riding down. Cassian stayed back with her as if it they had discussed it beforehand. They watched them ride down, slicing their way across the virgin expanse of fresh snow, the swooshing sound of the powder dying down the further Kay and Bodhi went.
A buzzard's cry resonated between the cliffs. Jyn raised her head and saw two birds flying in circle above them. She smiled. She had been hearing that particular cry for the past ten years of her life, but somehow it always reminded her of hiking in the French Alps with her mother when she was just a child.
She turned to Cassian, finding him already looking at her.
“It's a beautiful place,” she said. She felt the urge to duck her head down and hike up her scarf above her nose to hide her blushing cheeks, but Cassian dropped his gaze down and smiled his shy smile of his.
They both turned to the slope. Kay and Bodhi were still riding it down, taking their time to assess the environment and its potential.
He glanced at her. “Yes?”
He fully turned toward her with a puzzled look on his face, but before he could say anything in return, Bodhi and Kay called them, gesturing them that they were ready for them to come down.
Jyn strapped her helmet on and gave her board the impulse it was waiting for to dash down in the fresh snow.
Further down the mountain side, they found a great spot to practice their jumps and spent several hours riding it down and climbing it back up, with Bodhi capturing their every move. Jyn went for a backside double cork 1260 several times, and almost nailed one, while also doing other jumps she had already mastered for her video reel.
She was on top of the slope watching Kay do his thing, which was mostly him going for whatever he felt like at the time with not planning whatsoever, when Cassian climbed up and stopped next to her.
“Maybe you should try to do like him,” he said. “Not put so much pressure on yourself and just enjoy the moment. This is not training or recon.”
Jyn shrugged. “I have to do some neat stuff for the reel anyway. Might as well train at the same time,” she added and turned to him with a self depreciating smile.
Cassian frowned. “Why do you need that reel to be so perfect? You already have lots of sponsors, right?”
She grimaced. “Yeah but-” She sighed. “Saw and I plan on breaking the energy drink contract because they're basically assholes, but it's my biggest one. So I have to attract a new company or I won't have the money to travel outside of Europe for competitions.”
“Ahh, I see,” Cassian said. “But didn't you tell me that your dad is like a top notch engineer in that huge center? Can't he help you with the travel costs and stuff?”
Jyn scoffed. “My father really doesn't support this whole snowboarding stuff. I'm mostly living at Saw's when I'm in Switzerland and Bodhi is in Paris.”
“I didn't know it was so bad. Sorry.”
“Yeah well, it's how it is. It's okay. Don't worry,” Jyn said, turning away from Cassian, his worried eyebrows and his sincerely apologetic eyes. She waved at Bodhi who waved back, giving her the go for her jump.
They left their spot and rode down the rest of the off-track part of the slope, catching up with the official ski trails in the middle of the afternoon. When they reached the bottom, Kay went to the ski patrol station to check in and give updates about the state of the off-track section while Cassian, Bodhi and Jyn stayed outside.
“So,” Cassian started while they were dusting off residual snow from their pants and jackets, “any plans for tonight?”
“Actually yeah we're eating with Saw and turning in early, I'm training tomorrow,” Jyn answered, beating Bodhi to it and silently willing him not to object.
If Cassian was fazed by her hurried response, he didn't show it. Kay returned a moment later and they said goodbye to each other.
Jyn power-walked to the hotel, trying to ignore Bodhi asking her to slow down and wait. She marched into their room, stored the board on the balcony and took off her snow gear before flopping down on her bed with her hands on her face. Bodhi arrived a few seconds later, took the time to dispose of his board, his filming equipment and his snow gear before sitting down next to her.
“Alright”, he started calmly. “What happened?”
“Uggggggghhh,” Jyn mumbled, the sound muffled by her hands.
“Jyn, c'mon.” Bodhi grabbed her wrists and moved them away from her face. “We both know we're not having dinner with Saw tonight because he's busy getting drunk with Kenobi and Skywalker so why did you made that up? Why did you suddenly decide to avoid Cassian?”
Jyn took a deep breath and sighed. “Kay is suspecting something.”
“O-kay,” Bodhi said, nodding. When Jyn didn't add anything he asked: “That's it?”
Jyn sat up and laid her head against his shoulder. “No, that's not it. We had like... a moment. Two moments. And I told him about Dad.”
Bodhi put his arm around her shoulders. “What about Dad?”
“How he doesn't support any of this and that I don't really live with him. I don't know – we were talking about sponsors and why I need the video reel to be great and it kinda got personal.”
“And it freaked you out.”
“And it freaked me out. Because it's not like me to share stuff like that. I don't even know the guy.”
Bodhi jostled her gently. “You know him a little.”
“Not enough the start talking about personal shit,” Jyn muttered. She let herself go boneless against Bodhi, her panic receding into a light anxiety in the back of her mind. Bodhi always helped her center herself when a possible anxiety induced crisis threatened to drown her.
“You know what?” Bodhi said after a few minutes of cuddling in silence. “I say tonight calls for take-out and X-Files marathon.” He shook her out of her semi-asleep state and got up, pulling her with him. “Go take a shower while I order.” He flipped through the take-out menus that had came with the hotel welcome flyer. “Room service, pasta, pizza?”
“Yes,” Jyn answered. She grabbed her pajamas from her bed and headed to the bathroom, avoiding the still loose Uno cards among the other various items cluttering the floor.
“You're supposed to pick one,” Bodhi called out to her back as she closed the bathroom door behind her.
Jyn spent the next day training with Saw, switching from off-board training to slopestyle to half-pipe to big air. She pushed all thoughts of Cassian out of her mind. Nothing but her board and the track mattered. She had to prove to her father that he was wrong, to Saw that he hadn't made a mistake when he had taken the decision to coach her, and to herself that she could do it, that she was good enough, that all the sacrifices she had made had been worth it. She needed to push herself beyond her limits. She wasn't going to settle for something just good.
Fest wasn't Wobani. The snow quality was perfect for riding, the sky was clear and blue once the fog had cleared out and her body wasn't locked stiff by the cold. Thus there was no reason for her to rest on her laurels and just rely on a predictable jump combo.
Saw knocked on her door at the end of the day. Bodhi had taken his turn in the shower without giving her the blow dryer before locking the bathroom door and her hair was dripping on the hoodie she had borrowed from him. Served him right.
“You did great today,” he praised her. Jyn smiled in spite of the soreness in her back and thighs and the bruises blossoming under her clothes. “But don't push yourself too hard either. We still need your strength for the actual competition and for the last two of the season.”
He ruffled her damp hair, water spraying everywhere and pulled her into a hug. His thick sweater was rough and itchy against her skin, but she closed her eyes and relaxed into his embrace, surrounded by his deep, earthy scent.
“Are you okay, kiddo? You were quiet today,” he asked after a few minutes.
She opened her eyes. “I'm always quiet,” she mumbled against the wool of his sweater and felt more than heard his brief, silent laughter at her answer.
“Something is troubling you, kid,” Saw said quietly.
They had talked extensively about ending the energy drink contract and going on the hunt for a company wanting to sponsor her, but during all that talk, they hadn't made any mention of her father, the big bright pink elephant in the room.
Every time they had even came close to the subject, she had been able to stir the conversation into another direction, and had tried to ignore the regret she could see in Saw's eyes. He wished his friend had been a better father to her. She wished he had been a father at all after her mother's death. She wished it could be as easy for her than it was for Bodhi, who could be around him, talk about his life with him without it ending in a family drama. She had been jealous and angry the first few years, then she had given up trying to get along with her father, much to Bodhi's dismay. Saw had tried to comfort her, saying Galen had a hard time because she looked so much like her mother, and that it'd get better with time.
“Bullshit,” was all she had answered and with that, the conversation had been closed and never reopened.
It hadn't gotten better with time.
She mumbled something about the video reel and the sponsors and the energy drink contact. She didn't know if Saw understood anything with her face buried in his chest and she didn't really care. She only wanted to stay in his arms and fall asleep.
Saw put a hand on the back of her neck.
“Don't worry about the sponsors. I've got your back.”
She sighed. “You always do.”
“And always will.”
The fog stayed out of the ski resort the morning of the day the competition finally begun. The tense vibe that had been permeating the atmosphere around every snowboarder disappeared with the clouds and Jyn's mind cleared up of any sponsor worries as she approached the half-pipe competitors tent. Shara and Leia were warming up, chatting with Ahsoka as she was adjusting her white and blue hijab. Jyn caught sight of Mara Jade as well as Sakas Mikkian when Anakin Skywalker entered the tent and started to loudly and excitedly encourage both his protégée and his daughter. Jyn smiled. Skywalker looked and acted as if he was still of age to compete with them. It was weird to remember that his kids were almost not teenagers anymore when he was behaving like a teenager himself.
The first few women running were unknown to Jyn and, except for one very technical and perfectly executed McTwist, pretty forgettable. Sakas Mikkian tried to do an Haakon Flip followed immediately by a Backside 720 but didn't pick up enough speed. She didn't go high enough above the pipe, under-rotated and ultimately screwed up her landing and fell hard on her ass.
Shara winced next to Jyn. “That's a pretty dumb mistake to make.”
“I guess,” Jyn replied with a shrug.
The next woman was Mara, who, according to the commentator, was just out of recovery for some torn-up cruciate ligaments in her right knee. Unlike Sakas, she didn't take any risk and presented a clean but quite bland succession of tricks, giving her enough points not to be eliminated, but not what was needed to be on top of the ranking.
Ahsoka and Leia were next, immediately upping the bar to the next level, with incredibly hard jumps like a perfect Double McTwist 1260 for Leia and the highest Backside 720 Transfer Jyn had ever seen from Ahsoka.
A couple of less noticeable snowboarders went, and then it was Jyn's turn, finally. The half-pipe had never been her strong suit, but she had perfected a few neat tricks and she intended to give her best. She jumped what was probably her best Michalchuk and a quite high Air to Fakie and topped everything up with a Crippler followed by an Alley-oop Rodeo. She hoped Bodhi had gotten some cool footage and pictures. She took off her ski mask and waved at the photographers massed at the end of the pipe. She shook off some snow from her board to reveal the sponsor stickers decorating it and waited for her score, smiling for the cameras when her rank appeared. Third one after Leia and Ahsoka. There were still a few snowboarders left, though, and Jyn didn't nurtured the hope to stay there, as Shara hadn't had her turn yet.
Shara was the last one to go. Jyn, still at the third place, picked up Kes from the crowd, cheering at each of her jumps, beaming like the proud boyfriend he was. Maybe they weren't at the labels-stage yet, but Jyn doubted it would take them long to reach it. She turned back to the halfpipe where Shara was giving a stellar performance, as if gravity didn't have any hold on her.
Jyn fiddled with her helmet. She'd be lucky to be at the fourth place. Shara gained speed for her final jump and launched herself into a Cab 1080 but didn't stuck her landing. She wobbled on her feet and toppled over.
Jyn bit her lip. “Shit.”
She knew Shara hadn't fallen from high enough or with enough speed for having seriously hurt herself, but a dislocated elbow or a twisted knee was never far in their world. She let out a breath she didn't know she was holding when Shara got back to her feet and slid down in the middle of the halfpipe to the end of it, where she made a few depreciating jokes at the cameras. She shrugged with a smile when she appeared at the fourth place. Her eyes found Jyn and she winked at her before being engulfed in a hug from Kes.
The Men Halfpipe was happening in the evening, like practically every Men events. The women had to wake up early to compete while the guys could nurse their hangover and that fact would never make Jyn not envious.
She was alone in the hotel room, Bodhi was busy networking with magazines and websites and whatnot while Saw was probably looking for a solution to the sponsors issue. Or having a beer and a trip down memory lane with other coaches. Or both.
Jyn treated herself to a luxurious bubble bath and room service and tried to relax the best she could. She was sorry for Shara to have lost points at the very last moments, but she couldn't let that cloud the fact that she had made third place during a challenge she was no master at.
She had just finished her chocolate mousse when her phone pinged with a message.
nice job this morning!
Jyn frowned and tapped the little phone icon on top of the conversation.
“You were there?” she said when Cassian picked up.
He chuckled. “Hello to you too. No I wasn't there, I ran into Bodhi and then I got a recount second by second from Kes.”
Her eyebrows rose up. “And Kes talked about me? I'm surprised he didn't only talked about Shara.”
“Don't worry, I also know everything that happened with Shara, probably even better than if I had been there.” Jyn snorted. “Sorry, by the way,” he added in a more serious, quiet voice.
“Not being there this morning.”
Something warm and weird settled in her stomach. How was she supposed to react to that? She scrapped the side of the chocolate mousse container with her spoon. She chose to chuckle and deflect.
“Uh. It's not like we signed a contract forcing you to come freeze your balls off at every events I'm at. Knowing you, you probably had a tequila hangover to cure or something, right?”
Cassian laughed. If he had picked up on her being weirded-out, he didn't let anything out.
“Not tequila actually. Patxaran.”
Jyn left the container alone and pushed the room service cart away from the bed.
“What the fuck is that?”
“The trickiest alcohol in Spain. It's sweet and sneaky and will get you way too drunk way too quickly.”
Jyn laid down on her bed with Cassian's voice in her ear, explaining how that alcohol made from sloe berries and cinnamon was responsible for all the dumb shit in his life and that it was Kes's fault in the first place and at least with tequila you weren't tricked into thinking you were drinking fruit juice.
Her bed was soft and her pillows fluffy, and resisting a nap after hanging up was way too hard. Fighting the urge to sleep was useless and Jyn needed the rest if she wanted to appreciate the Men Halfpipe that evening.
Night events were always way cooler than day events. The music was less shitty for one, less mushy pop and more rock or actually enjoyable electro. Bright spots were illuminating the pipe and the public was usually halfway drunk, which was taking away a layer of seriousness and pressure from the competitors. Sometimes, Jyn was wondering if the competitors weren't halfway drunk themselves. She didn't know what would be the most surprising: if they were or if they weren't.
Solo was the first one to compete. Jyn found his way of snowboarding infuriating. He was always doing everything flippantly, almost nonchalantly, as if nothing mattered and he was just there for the laugh and the booze. The other American, Calrissian, was pretty much the same, although more focused and a tad less douchebaggy about it. They weren't awful, far from it, but their attitude was rubbing her the wrong way.
The contrast with Luke Skywalker was almost violent. The kid was eager to show his best, full of energy and going all over the place. He reminded her of a golden retriever puppy – an extremely talented puppy, but a puppy all the same. He often over-rotated his jumps but somehow always found a way to stick his landing without falling flat on his face.
The next one was Baca, the Czech American friend of Solo, whose first name was containing too much accents and consonants for anyone but Czech people to pronounce it correctly, thus making him go by his middle name, Chet, even on the scoreboards. He was snowboarding aggressively but in a focused and precise manner, his energy channeled entirely into his jumps. His physique only added to the power of his style, all the two meters, huge brown beard and long hair of him.
An unknown Italian guy fell down in a rather creative manner after his first jump. Cassian was next. His tricks were clean and technical, clearly privileging difficulty over aesthetic. He closed his performance with a Frontside Double Cork 1080 that made some of the more inebriated members of the public lose their minds. His program got him the second place after Baca. A few reporters jumped on him as soon as his results were announced.
That was another thing distinguishing the men's events from the women's. Women's had cameras and photographers. Men's had all that, plus actual reporters asking questions and writing articles about the athletes. At the moment, Jyn wasn't envious of Cassian who looked like he wanted to be anywhere but near a snooping journalist, but she was still mad at the differences. Nobody cared about what women had to say, they just had to be cute and smile for the camera.
Her eyes followed Cassian when he managed to ditch the journalists. He went back to the tent to dispose of his gear and got out almost immediately after, only to catch her eyes. A smile stretched his lips and he made a beeline toward her.
“Nice gig,” she said when he was within hearing distance. “Did you make some new friends?” she added, pointing the reporters group with a movement of her chin.
Cassian rolled his eyes and leaned on the fence. “Tell me about it, I hate those moments. I always feel like an idiot saying the same shit any competitor says after an event.”
“I gave everything I had, I think I can be proud of my performance tonight?” Jyn asked mockingly.
“Ugh, it sounds like every football player ever.”
“You guys are athletes, not poets.”
Cassian snorted. “What do you tell them?”
“Nothing. No one ever asks us anything afterwards, except to smile and wave.”
Cassian frowned. Kes's name appeared on the screen. She elbowed Cassian lightly in the ribs.
“It's Kes's turn.”
Cassian grimaced. “Halfpipe hasn't been his forte this year.”
Kes, while far from being terrible, didn't indeed look confident on his board. His jumps lacked finesse and looked rushed, while his landings were often wobbly, making him lose speed between each jumps, speed that he had to regain to the detriment of doing more tricks. However he didn't fall or made any rookie mistake, which got him enough points not to be eliminated after the challenge.
Kay was the one directly after him. Like Cassian, he was preferring technicality and difficulty to aesthetic.
“Does he know this isn't the Big Air yet?” Jyn said after a series of high jumps.
Cassian's smile was short lived: Kay screwed up the landing of his last particularly high trick and fell down in a mess of snow.
“Fuck. C'mon Kay, get up,” Cassian muttered between his teeth. Jyn felt a pressure around her left wrist and saw his hand gripping her tight. In the middle of the pipe, Kay moved but didn't get to his feet. Instead, he gestured to the medic team to come over.
He left on a gurney, his hands around his knee. Jyn tugged at Cassian, who was seemingly frozen on the spot.
“Come on,” she said, taking his hand in hers and dragging him away from the pipe and toward the med station. He squeezed her hand and followed her without a word.