Everyone has their home run. Last run of the day. The light is gone or the lifts are closed but you know every single side hit like the back of your hand. It becomes part of your muscle memory. Maybe there are some shortcuts to get you home quicker, maybe it spits you out in the middle of nowhere and you loosen off the legs with a long walk home. Maybe your daily run is walking home from a train station after a boring day in the office you have to work to pay your bills and have money for food but really you're dreaming of days like the one I have in mind as I scribble these thoughts.
The zone was pretty epic. Axamer Lizum, the last section of the Dolomites the Italians couldn't claim back. Looking out you see a completely open zone, untouched. No lifts. Touring only. To access it you can either tremble along a traverse or hike up the ridgeline to the left and drop in from above. Mountaineering-ish. Some spots where you could easily slip down into the couloir. Some spots when scampering up in between sheer rock faces with a board under your arm and camera bag on your back was not ideal. But you push onwards with your lungs on fire. You feel like you're getting somewhere new. Pushing your limits. Or just trying to keep up.
The scenery draws your eye and keeps it locked. Distracting you as you miss a step. The cliff faces shoot up out of nowhere and assert their dominance, stoic giants watching you climb. In the bright sunlight of the morning, the sprinkling of snow on each rock face glows bright and ethereal with a crazy contrast that could blind you. Untouched snow glistens and sparkles begging to be slashed. Tiny trees pop their first shoots up in hope of Spring, which is still a long way off.
A classic kicker day. Maybe two hours hiking with one sweet run in between. A relatively easy build. And then three hits. A couple of tricks landed. A couple of tricks bailed. Riders legs completely drained after the long hike back to the top of the in-run. Theo and I on camera duties. A few photos snapped. Some footage logged. Able to conserve our energy a little longer than the rest of the crew. When it was time to head out of the zone, on our home run, we could ride while the rest cruised and took it easy.
Down into an open field filled with mushroom pillows, through a goat farm and onto a Rodelbahn which was easily 5km long. Twisting and winding through trees and ski tourers, up berms and banks and trying desperately to use the last ounces of energy to pop. Camera around my neck shooting from the hip no focus but real energy and movement after sitting in the same spot all day.
It wasn't my home run. It wasn't their home run. But we made it ours together and enjoyed the ride with a cold beer waiting at the bottom. The only downside was that I couldn't hang around long after. There was a train waiting to carry me over to Salzburg. The adventure was not over just yet.
Peter Sandner, Dominik Brunner, Thomas Hörhager, Theo Acworth.
Words and Photographs: William Sleigh
Riders: Peter Sandner, Dominik Brunner, Thomas Hörhager, Theo Acworth.
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