Photos and words by Theo Acworth, Alexis De Tarade and Peter Rossner.
Kaprun, Austria. It’s 6.45am. Ish. There’s a bunch of snowboarders in town for the fourth annual Volcom Kitzsteinhorn Banked Slalom, most are staying in the Active by Leitners Hotel and its surrounding apartments. The Leitners family have been supporters of the event since day one and are definitely down for snowboarding. The chat at breakfast ranges from waxing techniques to the location of lost gloves, but the common thread is that no matter who you are everyone is here to have fun. There’s also a man asleep in the hotel lounge laying half on a bench seat and half on the floor. We don’t know who he is but he looks like he’s going to have back problems when he wakes up.
The great Pachamama gave winter a late wake-up kick and after a few days of storms and whiteout conditions, the flowers and grass on the Kitzsteinhorn are buried under some serious powder on race day. Oh yeah, the course itself is buried too. Considering that we inhabit the upper echelons of professional journalism it should come as no surprise to you that the Method team are on the first gondola up the mountain to document the day. It should also be no surprise that we immediately sneak off to rip some of the best snow of the entire winter.
Returning to the top with snow filling our open pockets we then join the team of shapers/ riders/ photographers/ team managers who are digging out the course. Alexis De Tarade looks splendid in a baby blue Ralph Lauren jumper while Jan Prokes and Vernon Deck are shovelling hard. The spirit of snowboarding is strongest at events like this and it’s good to see more helping hands than available shovels.
Once the course is cleared Peter Rossner somehow finds himself in the role of training start gate manager and was able to admire the variety of boards on the hill. Splits, hand shaped, swallowtails and pipe machines. Everyone has his or her own recipe for going fast. Some dude smashes Pete in the shin while trying to sneak past him. Cheers. At the bottom of the course, commentators L’Arrogs and Stephane Grenet are shouting at each other in French over the speakers. Ears are bleeding. The Volcom crew rip powder in the park instead of practising the course.
Racing starts. The beauty of a banked slalom is that it is a classless society. You could be a totally unknown ripper starting right behind an international pro and people will still give you a high five, a swig of Austrian firewater and wish you all the best for your journey through the turns. Riders such as Terje, Arthur, Wolle, Elias and Beckna pull out of the gate and show that their reputations as snowboarders are more than well earned. As the riders drop in the clouds roll in and out over the corners and Innsbruck’s Sane crew are spotted doing backflips above the course.
The fastest fifty-five riders returned to the top and started tuning their edges with magic whispers and some sort of Swiss oil before dropping in for run number two. One little mistake could cost them the race and you can feel the pressure on their shoulders. No one was fucking around and at the end of the day, it was Uncle-T aka Terje Haakonsen who took first place and finished his run with a glorious method over the final hip. He was very closely followed by Arthur Longo in second and Pontus Stahlkoo in third.
What followed that evening was a meeting with the angriest taxi driver in Austria and a pretty good party in a castle with a bunch of solid bands and solid people. We have no photos of this as we left our cameras behind in the hotel, probably a good thing as Alexis might have kicked them out of our hands as he formed and then dominated the mosh pit.
Big up Jan Prokes, Jebrane Desigaud, Active by Leitners Hotel, Kitzsteinhorn Marketing, Pachamama, the shapers and everyone else who made this event happen and tolerated us being there.
1st Terje Haakonsen
2nd Arthur Longo
3rd Pontus Stahlkoo
1st Svetko Baltic
2nd Peter Bauer
3rd Renars Bermanis
1st Ana Rumiha
2nd Karleen Jeffrey
3rd Svenja Schallner