Words, photos and video by Theo Acworth.
This was an opening of two parts. The first involved sunshine and slush, the second involved blizzards and ice. Although an entire weekend of sunshine would have been great, variety is the spice of life and everyone who didn’t come up on Sunday because they didn’t fancy it simply missed out on snowboarding. Your loss people.
After saying hello to all the nice faces in the test area and some early-ish morning slope blasting I wandered my way down to the park to see if anyone was about who would tolerate me pointing a camera at them. Rome up-and-comers Lorenz Vyslozil and Oskar Fritzsche were on hand for a few fast laps through the rail lines, which resulted in Lorenz getting smoked on take-one. I felt bad because the camera probably encouraged him to try something hard, but at the end of the day these kids make the curious decision to try to slide around on metal pipes and bits of plastic, so be it on their own heads. He was all right really.
Shortly afterwards Nikita got a ladies session going and had what seemed like a truckload of prizes to give out to anyone ripping. Henry Jackson was also on hand to deafen us all and remind riders that anyone could take part but if you had a penis you probably wouldn’t get much in the way of gear. Natalie Millman was sliding smooth front boards and Celia Petrig was doing 270 front boards as clean as they get. This was definitely a fun session rather than a competition and unsurprisingly everyone was smiling. 11-year-old ripper Jacky De Jong appeared right as the session ended and we shot a few photos together on the jumps. This little lady is a Riskgransen banked winner and World Rookie Tour rider backed by Terje himself, definitely, one to keep your eye on.
While shooting Jacky I could see that the main jump line was firing and was being attacked by all sorts of people who I didn’t recognise. The only rider I could really pick out was the Belgian giant Sebbe De Buck who was making the jumps look ridiculously easy. I didn’t have much of a chance to shoot there as I suddenly realised I would miss the Horsefeathers elbows and edges jam if I didn’t get myself over to the other side of the hill sharpish.
If you’ve never seen Tyler Chorlton doing his thing then you really need to check it out, the dude is doing turns that I don’t think have ever really been done before. At least not like he does them anyway. Tyler had stripped his event back to basics and all we had was a hill with a few rollers and a ‘slow down’ sign to get creative with. This minimal approach proved for fantastic viewing and definitely encouraged riders of all abilities to get involved, make turns and frequently crash into the sign. There were of course cash and prizes to give out which led to me running up the hill myself and winning 5 euros, booyah.
The Quicksilver Depth Perception crew was knocking about in Neustift that afternoon and about a million people had turned up at the Moreboards store to get autographs on their faces and stare at Travis Rice. These guys are definitely professional and tirelessly signed posters and babies for hours, delighting many a fan. I haven’t actually seen the movie but a bunch of people tell me it’s really good and not what they were expecting at all. I had a brief but passionate chat with Travis about it and I’m definitely curious to see what they produced.
That evening Arbor showed their first movie ‘Cosa Nostra’ in the Dorfpub. I suspect that I am among a tiny minority of snowboarders who are more interested in seeing the movie at a premiere than they are about drinking, but I still complain every time it starts an hour later than it was ‘supposed’ to. The movie was pretty rad though, at times my view of the pretty small screen was blocked but I saw some seriously heavy riding with a nice mixture of street and pow. Big up Arbor. Anyway, some DJ’s DJ’ed, people got wasted and started a mosh pit/sweat party at which point I promptly left, stinking of cigarettes. Gotta love Austria.
Sunday dawned and we ascended into a snowstorm. The gratis gluhwein at the Nikita stand was more welcome than ever in the sub-zero conditions and we managed to prise away a few industry heads from their tents to take some blind laps with us, before once again heading for the park and a gathering of bananas. Lib Tech had all sorts of things to give away and the lure of free stuff once again led me to join in despite the fact that I don’t/can’t ride rails. The ever-present Fabi Fraidl was a standout in my eyes but all sorts of people did jazzy looking tricks too. I had hoped to win a skateboard but was satisfied with some banana wax and a pair of blue socks which I’m wearing as I type this.
Nikita was also running some open coaching on the hill and a gang of dedicated ladies were braving the whiteout conditions to get after a bit of pow and those present said it was class. Snowboarding is about good times but often looking cool as fuck can take centre stage and it can be pretty intimidating to try new things, so sessions like these that encourage progression without judgement is something I’m straight down with and you should be too.
I managed to snap my board on the last run doing a final layback under a sign, but there are worse ways for a board to go and I still left having had a quality weekend. And so with the end of the day came the end of the glacier openings in Austria for 2017. Thanks to everyone who made the Stubai weekend happen and asked us to join. The last three weeks have replenished my wax and sock stash and definitely got me stoked for winter. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, see you out there folks.