There are few freestyle snow events in the alps that have a heratage as long as the Kaunertal Opening. Now already 30 years going, I have been a visiting it for the last five years. Even big snow problems in the past did not stop it from being one of the best opening events. Now for the anniversary Kaunertal gave us the best event they could have ever made. And even the weather played ball.
It was Thursday and I was checking the weather forecast. After all, this time our plan for Kaunertal was different. Having a blast hanging out at the old skate-ramp with a few random new friends on the last Kaunertal Spring Sessions we decided to join the camping movement. The temperatures would be around zero so it would not be to extreme and tons of people were probably gonna join in the fun.
I picked up Jernej in Ljubljana and we were off. Another stopover in Innsbruck, gathered the tent and our third companion Gäbbs, soon we were back in Feichten. A few of our friends Flo, Mieke and Sussi would join us at the Weissenseeferner where the resort starts. The premise would be simple. Have a ton of fun in the park all day, test as many skis and boards as one can at the Blue Tomato testival (more on that in a followup article) and enjoy a few movie premiers and a really chill party. We might also make it to the Weissenseespitz if the conditions allowed.
One thing that always set Kaunertal apart from the other openings is it`s location. The Glacier itself is located way of the main route and it takes some dedication to get here. That attracts a certain crowd of people with a focused mindset that can easily be spotted when you see the level going down on the contests and Jams in the park. We saw the peak of this at Saturdays KTO Pro Contest.
Like the years before five time in a row snowboard Pro Contest winner Eric Beachemin put his name out there again and showed everyone that he deserves to be all the way up on the podium. Maxi Preissinger, who also became Best Rookie and Clemens Millauer shared the podium with him. Mary Luggen became best female Rider of the snowboard contest, followed by Birgit Rofner, Julia Baumgartner and Martina Zollner. Style gradates like Lukas Müllauer, Torge Nagel and Fabian Bösch dominated the Freeski Pro Contest. Lisa Zimmermann once again delivered an above and beyond performance and Lara Wolf tried hard to keep up with her. Check out a few pics I took of the contest here:
Of course it did not stop there. Another interesting contest on the side was the GoPro Rider Clash. It was really great to see our buddies from Slovenia Marko Grilc and Tadej Valentan hit it off with a few rookies. Tadejs deluxe boys even made a cool little edit that you can check out !
But of course there was more to do at the Testival. Like every year Blue Tomato, one of the biggest retailers in the freestyle gear space would put up a whole city of brands that allowed you to test their gear for free. All you had to do was just show up with your ID, get a free beanie and test the stuff that interested you. That of course was not all as the brands were having a ton of fun giveaways and contests to win free stuff.
Horsefeather had the hammer throwing contest and the wheel of fortune where I won a belt and Gäbbs got some “endless luck”. Völkl had you shot with at targets with a crossbow. The Deluxe guys had a cool somewhat Mongolian looking carpet for chilling… The girls from Blue Tomato told me that they had given away more then 800 beanies… actually their stock had run out at the middle of Saturday already. But the Blue Tomato support for us did not end there.
Like in the previous years they were also hosting a big free barbecue for all us hungry riders at the mini ramp in front of the party tent in the valley. As usual you had to time your visit well not to miss it. We did screw that up on the first day when we stayed at the trampoline for too long as I had to insist to try my new La Sportiva Nepals on a kids climbing course on wet rock since we would not claim the Weissenseespitz because of unfavorable conditions. Sure the shoes were awesome but we did miss the barbecue. Fortunately thou there was plenty of beer, radler and skiwasser left.
Saturday was also the big day for the movie premieres and the parties. I did not have the time to read all the leaflets but I had heard that a really good band would be playing at the main party tent. Beginner Soundsystem was on and a load of cool DJs and Hip Hop Combo Mundwerk. The awesome lineup just blew us away. Adding live acts like these to the festival put a completely new level to the party in the main tent. I’m a little sad I missed Bilderbuch on Friday thou. As the party progressed some of us did not make it to the tent until early in the morning. Others almost made it but decided to sleep outside! Right Sussi… wet grass is more comfortable then a sleeping bag I guess 😛
We also got to see a great documentary about the thirty years of all this annual mayhem in Kaunertal. After all we have to thank the locals for allowing us crazy skiing and snowboarding freaks to come to their beautiful home and camp, ride and party for three days every year. Again for thirty years in a row. The movie also showed us how the times have changed and how our sports had changed. What started as a bit of wee fun in fluffy terrain is now a snowpark with a pefect kicker line and a ton of obstacles that can get you and any pro excited. Add the trampolines and the miniramp to it and you have an awesome training ground. We also saw the premier of this years Legs of steel movie, that is by a large margine their best yet. If you have not seen the trailer check it out:
All in all I have to say it was a epic Kauenertal Opening. Truly a event to remember and we will definitely be coming back for more next year. Also check out the video recaps for Friday and Saturday:
And if you can spot me in the Saturday video you get a free beer :P.
So next up before I get to the technical side and share my experience on the skis I tested with you at the Testival here at Kaunertal, it is almost Friday already and that means we are at the final leg of our openings weekends. So the next post will come form Stubai 😛 It is supposed to dump hard before we get there so we might even get our first proper pow turns!