When Skaters Saw A Creature Struggling In The Ice, They Grabbed An Ax And Jumped Into Action

Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

Viktor Johannessen and Sigrid Sjösteen live in an idyllic part of north Sweden. However, one winter day in 2017, their peace was disturbed. It was then that a creature fell into a frozen lake outside of their home. After watching it struggle for a while, they grabbed an ax and got to work.

Image: Fabian Mardi

Sweden is known for its long, cold winters, which sees most of the Scandinavian country covered in ice. During the coldest month of the year – February – temperatures can plummet to a teeth-chatteringly cold -7°F, sometimes even lower in the far north of the country.

Image: Viktor Johanessen via Nerikes Allehanda

However, rather than battening down the hatches for the winter, the Swedes like to enjoy themselves when the weather turns cold. And judging by his YouTube channel, Viktor Johannessen has more fun in the snow and ice than most.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

In one video Johannessen uploaded to YouTube in March 2018, he and some friends can be seen using the endless snow to build an igloo. However, it is another clip on the Swede’s channel that gained him international attention.

Image: Simon Matzinger

In February 2017 Johannessen and his girlfriend Sigrid Sjösteen had been at their home near Örnsköldsvik, in the north of Sweden. From the window of their cottage, the couple enjoyed an idyllic view of a frozen lake. However, one day, they noticed something unusual on the ice.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

Speaking to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in 2017 Sjösteen explained, “We noticed that there was something strange about the ice, a few meters out from the beach. Then we saw that there was a moose [that had] fallen through.”

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

The mighty creature had somehow fallen through the ice into the freezing water below. To make matters worse, temperatures were so low that the lake had already started to freeze around the moose, meaning that it was trapped in the glacial waves.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

Presumably unsure what to do, Johannessen and Sjösteen simply watched the moose to see if it was able to help itself. They thought that if the animal could find its feet then it may be able to break through the ice on its own.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

However, such a feat proved to be impossible. “[The water] was too deep. It seemed that it was trying to get up but it did not work,” Sjösteen revealed. As a result, the couple decided that they would have to take matters into their own hands.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

Armed with an ax and some long-distance skates, the couple made their way out onto the ice in order to save the moose. However, they were unsure how their rescue attempt would pan out. “We had no idea what we were going to do, we had never done anything like this before,” Sjösteen said.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

But while the couple might not have been experienced when it came to animal rescues, they were at least used to dealing with sub-zero temperatures. “We are open-air people who are out a lot on cross-country skates,” Sjösteen said.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

So, as Sjösteen skated towards the moose, Johannessen caught the proceedings on camera. In the footage he can be heard warning his girlfriend about the thin ice as they head out onto the frozen lake. Finally, they reach the moose, who is now flailing around in the water in a wild panic.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

Using the ax, Sjösteen wastes no time in trying to cut a path for the moose in the ice. However, with every strike of the blade, the moose becomes more and more terrified, causing it to venture even further into the water.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

However, the couple refuse to give up. So, after 40 long minutes of hard work, they had manage to carve the moose an escape route through the ice. Now, all they could do was hope that the animal would walk itself out.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

In an interview with the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in 2017, Johannessen explained, “We got ourselves quite sweaty, we got so tired. For a long time, we thought that we would not get it. We had to chop the ice all the way to the beach so that the elk was able to touch the bottom.”

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

But in its fight against the frigid waters the moose had grown exhausted. And the stress from all of Sjösteen’s ax-swinging had only made matters worse. “It was hard to know that we caused more stress and damage to the elk when we just tried to help,” she later told Swedish TV network SVT.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

However, soon enough, the couple’s hard work paid off. After gathering its strength, the moose found its feet and walked through the broken ice to safety. Once it reached dry land, the animal stopped for a second in some tall grass.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

Recalling the surreal moment, Johannessen told the Västerbotten Kuriren newspaper, “It almost felt like it would thank us.” But after composing itself, the moose made off into the woods, much to Johannessen’s delight. “We were incredibly relieved that we managed to save it,” he said.

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Image: YouTube/Viktor Johannessen

With their rescue mission successfully completed, Johannessen decided to share the footage that he’d captured on YouTube. And it didn’t take long for the video to go viral, clocking up hundreds of thousands of views in a matter of days.

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Image: Patrick Hendry

All of a sudden, Johannessen and Sjösteen found themselves at the center of international attention. Furthermore, the couple were inundated with kind comments online, but for the brave couple the greatest reward was simply saving the life of another living being.

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