Hotzone Opening 2017
Words + Photos: William Sleigh // Film + Edit: Theo Acworth
We must be premature. It still feels like summer. The sun beats through the window and the grass is bright and in full health as we land. The milky pastis creams and mint greys of the river Inn are taking one last charge through the city in anticipation of the impending freeze. Touch down. Time for this place to get cold.
Two quick buses. Two quicker beers. We've landed at Landhauzplatz. Lines everywhere. Curbs everywhere. Smooth ass ground. The crack of fresh wood and rolling wheels reverberates all around. But we've come for our snowboards and the call is too strong to stay on the concrete.
Rain falling in the dark must be snow higher up. Excitement builds with a blast skate through Innsbruck fast, real fast on the wet smooth stone over tram lines in tram lines up curbs down curbs over grates pushing fast whistle stop home, feels like snowboarding.
Next day we begin our approach to the mountains. Rising gently through the scenes as clouds bust and bellow their way through the valleys to charge the light and heighten your senses. Chugging along, winding around up we go to the white caps, into the white fog of obsession mixed with anticipation. The Hintertux glacier is extending its influence down into the valley, breathing out the cold to cover the land in winter. Trees are frozen and the air holds a chill to pierce your lungs like you've not known all summer. Tailgate scenes as the boots hug and reunite with feet in the car park up into the gondola unable to pull your gaze away from the window, colours of autumn transformed in black and white, high contrast and we rise still further.
You're standing inside a ping-pong ball, waiting for the matrix to load, holding on in purgatory until you strap your foot in and the veil is lifted. The first turns of winter come to life through your legs and it's new and exciting and fun all over again. The itch has been scratched but the floodgates have opened, the craving can't yet be satisfied. There's only one thing to do but point it straight and blast through the white wind and keep turning until your legs are back for good.
Buffet dinners, free beers and movie premieres are the order of the evening. Our eyes are red from the focus of the day and the relaxation of the apres. Old hands high five to new beginnings all around. Clubs and bars for more drinks we all get a little hazy and stumble home.
Sunshine in the morning and the early birds are battling it out on a wall-ride seeking redemption for the sins of last night. Fast park laps with squads rolling through the transitions of a mini pipe, lay-back slashes and punching through white walls at speed, we're finally getting somewhere, we're feeling something again, no longer numbed by the slow pace of summer. Heavy winds knock us away from jumps back to surfy vibes in the park, the influence of summer clinging on. The day ends and we do it all over again.
The final day back to foggy conditions to match the foggy minds hung over from the opening night party in the Hohenhaus Tenne Hintertux. Only the truly eager made it up to slide through the white and throw down on the cash for tricks rail jam set up. The sun makes a final effort to shine through but the power of the glacier is too strong. It envolopes us on a final few laps with legs feeling powerful nearly back to how they once were. The first turns of winter have been scored.