Well time flies and we were already on opening week three of the glacial snowpark openings. I have to say that all of them this year were really the total opposite of last year. We had snow, the park setups were awesome and the weather mostly played ball. Would the biggest one be the best one off them all?
It was Wednesday. The weather was showing a huge dump of 70 cm at the Stubai Glacier. The pictures from the social media feeds were looking proper. Would there really be such a dump in October? Would the park be ready for us? Just to get to Stubai we would have to skip Fridays riding because of a previous medical thing I had and take an extra detour over Maribor. Fortunately I was joined by Jernej, Pavli and Blaž so even my cars locked radio and no music other then the engine rumbling the ride would be fun. It would be the boys first days on snow. After one of the longest rides to Innsbruck ever, we finally arrived. A beer later we were super motivated for the day to come.
7.30 am. The alarm went off. A minute later Jernej was up. I followed. Gabi was already getting ready. We even made breakfast. I usually skip that for another 10 minutes of sleep. We would pick up Mieke and make it to the mountain very early. Our schedule was pretty packed. Lots of contests and the board saloon were lined up and we also had a PR meet setup where we would learn a bit more about the future of the resorts expansion plans. I knew about the 3S Gondola from Leitner from the Interalpin in 2013 but not more. But lets start with the important stuff first.
The park setup
For year Nejc Kralj, our Slovenian friend had been a constant at the park preparations here at Stubai. Our buddy who is well known at home for the awesome setups at our best park on Rogla had started his migration to Stubai a few years back and has returned every year since. Would the setup be great or exceptional?
We arrived to see a pro line that already reminded me of the prime sessions last year. And it was only October. Before our PR-Meet at the Jochdole restaurant I had time to do two runs trough the medium line setup. Four perfectly shaped kickers where waiting. Speed and amplitude were again just perfect for your fun riding. I did overshoot the last kicker in the line on my speed-check run but I reckon that was because of my over anticipation. Did have to keep it mellow thou since I did mess up a run at Kaunertal that put my ACL on a bit of a strain.
On my second run I spotted Nejc and stopped to say hi and get some info on the job at hand. Shaping tool in hand the first thing he said was. “When I saw your 70cm post the other day I looked around and we did not even have enough snow to finish the landings. It was just ice. Fortunately in the following two night another 40 cm came in and we could cover the ice”. I smiled a bit baffled. The webcams certainly looked smoother. But in the end they managed to get everything ready so we could all enjoy the park and it didn`t even feel that icy. But after mentioning the ice and not a lot of base I did start to notice the little cracks and slippy parts that I would have probably just ignored before. Regardless it was the best setup of all the openings hands down if you are into kickers. Jib-wise there was also a really awesome new obsticle that we will enjoy from now one… the bridge.
The DC BACK TO BACK SESSION
There were also a ton of cool contests going down and the most important one would be the DCs Back to Back session at the pro line. Moderated by none other then Jacksons Hole presenter Henry Jackson himself the comments were of course on a whole different satirical level and so was the riding. I was joined by my photographer friend Andi Schiefer and we set off to capture all the glory. Check out some of the shots here.
The 20 contestants battled it out and the Tyrolian snowboarder Werni Stock was the winner of this event with a huge backside 900 to switch backside 900. We did get a few really interesting shots but for part of the contest a darn little cloud kept annoying me with its dreaded shadow. For some moving pictures check out the recap video:
Stubai Future plans
One thing that was really interesting for me was the PR meet before the big contest. As I do tourism infrastructure in my real world job at the Embassy it was quite refreshing to have a resort give us such open info on its future expansion plans. So without going into to much details. Stubai will improve it`s on mounting capacity with a new 3S Gondola System by Leitner starting 2016.
The old Eisgrat Gondola will be torn down in April and the new capacity will be around 3000 people an hour up from 1400. Also the whole thing will work in wind extremes up to 130 km/h and they will even add an new piste for the descent with a long tunnel. Tunnels are in these days I guess. Total investment costs for the gondola are around 50 Mio. EUR and project total should be 80+ Mio.
The new base station will also allow separation between daily guests and ski school guests, who mainly travel to Gamsgarten and not Eisgart. That seems to have been quite a problem in the past because they often took the wrong gondola ending up at Eisgrat and having to go all the way down to the middle station to get to there meeting points at Gamsgarten.
THE EISGRAT BOARDSALOON
Like every year Moreboards, the local dealer from Innsbruck and the StubaiZoo`s biggest supporter set up the board saloon where you could test tons of gear. Sure like every year it was more snowboard based but still we were able to test a few Line and Melt skis. Gabi and Jernej also did a lot of Oakley Google testing and we all agreeed that the Prism lenses are awesome. Still rather expensive thou.
We also said hi to our Horsefeathers friends with there wheel of fortune. This time thou I only won a few stickers and “lots of powder”. I`ll settle for that. There was really tons of stuff to check out if you got into the testing mood. Beeing weekend Nr. 3 of these I was a bit more conservative but in the end, as much fun as it was, we were all here for riding park.
TALES OF BEER, RAILS AND KICKERS
So this is the part of the article where I am supposed to write the standard we all had a great time bla bla. But instead I am going to do something different. Tell a short fun story of a awesome weekend in a few paragraphs that you can enjoy and laugh about.
“Like every year I managed to motivate a few of friends.. this time it was Jernej, who I love spending time with doing fun stuff, Pavli our local snow and canyoning professional and one of my favorite powderday friends and Blaž who I train acrobatics with to come with me to Stubai for a fun filled adventure. After all this is adventure time where you take your freinds and go off to distant lands.
For photos last minute changes made Andi, aka my ISPO jacuzzi buddy, join us so we could be two photohogs for the big DC contest together again to make a few good and somewhat creative shoots. We crashed at Gabis and were eager to ride park. Party would come in second but as the stories go in Innsbruck one goes out for a good beer at Irish and ends up in Magdas Haltestelle. Regardless you ride the next day. And that we did.
Saturday for me went by like a breeze. The contests, PR meet, boardsaloon.. hell I did not even manage do use to food coupon I got for lunch. That´s why I wanted to take it slow party wise and join Jernej, Blaž, Gabi and Pauli in the Park on Sunday.
Also the boys from GrabIt, my local Maribor gang were present to film and if I was lucky I would even get a pic of me doing something without a hint of style 😛 I was also really happy to have Jernej come along on a last minute booze inflicted spontaneous decision, because he had not been in a park for a loooooong time. Riding in tight mountaineering Black Dimond pants he looked more like a sassier version of Reinhold Messner then a Tom Wallish or Jossi Wells… but he was doing really well. Some things you never forget… riding bike and jibing 🙂
But for Blaž and me the kickers were the things to do. Hitting the medium line at Stubai is always a season highlight for me. Those are the days where there is no stress and just a good wibe with ample airtime. I love airtime. I did not do all to much but taking a day just to get a feel for the kickers was something I had been longing for. It was one of the things I was missing. Surrounded by my freinds in the park it felt complete.
Complete. That is also how I would describe the whole weekend. Sure it was exhausting and all but it was the good kind of exhausting. The one that gives you energy and motivates you for more… on a late Saturday we had to say goodbye and head back to Ljubljana… back to our daily lives.. to do the things we have to.. to make it possible for more days like the once we had in Stubai.”
PS: As for the party front dear Girls…. again next time I will make sure the the one of us who can not make it from the kitchen to the room will not crash on the wrong couch again. Hope the beer smooths things over… it won`t happen again.
Well that was the openings for 2015/16 be sure to mark your calendar again same time next year. From here on we move to Dachstein where PIEPS prepared there annual clinic workshop to get us up to speed on new avalanche gear and let us hone our skills for the coming powder season.