12/05/2009 | by Ethan Morgan
I love it when I get to go back to Europe and shoot with euro snowboarders, even more when I get to travel with my good friend Vanessa Andrieux. I showed up in Bad Gastein Austria for the MBM session (Snowboarder Monster Backside Magazine, German mag). The concept of the week is that about 10+ photographers show up with some riders and each crew tries to get better photos then the others, on the same days and on the same mountain.
My team was composed by Gulli, fellow shredder from Iceland, and my self with Vanessa as team captain. We were all staying in the same huge 19th century hotel which allowed all of us to hang after the shred, it was super fun and felt like a big summer camp!
Bad Gastein is a old times luxurious natural hot spring resort with an impressive waterfall right in the center of town with a beautiful view over the valley. Most buildings were built late 19th century, they are tall and impressive. I was waiting the whole time to cross Empress Sissi in the streets, or hearing Schubert playing piano.
The snow conditions were really bad when we got there! The slopes were covered with mud, ice and rocks.. and there was absolutely no snow left around, and it started raining! But we got so lucky as the rain transformed into snow! And it dumped just enough to cover most of the off pists and all the logs.. and it turned to be sick!!
The funny thing is that none of us had ridden in that resort before.. so no one had any idea of where to find spots to shoot.. and the other surprise was that we weren’t able to drive out to the slopes in the morning because they hadn’t cleaned up the roads after the snowfall.. We gave up after a good half an hour of pushing the car and were lucky enough to catch a ride with the Belgian crew who had chains. We ended up shredding with them all day. We jumped in the cabin and we were lucky enough to spot a pretty cool pillow line right under the lift that no one had hit yet. Once out of the lift we realized that the powder was knee deep and even though that pow was still a bit wet and heavy it turned out to be really fun and easy to shred! So we hit those pillows got a couple shots and hit the bus back to the hotel as the fog had come up.
Pretty good for a first day in bad weather for sure!
That night we went up to typical Austrian restaurant, were we would come down with sleds! And the fun started right away with a general snowball fight! I could have stayed out and kept doing that the whole night! That’s where we got to meet everyone else. Some riders from Finland, Switzlerland, Slovenia, Austria, France, Norway, Sweden, Belgium..etc.. and my friend Niels was there too! Niels is a kid from Geneva.. he is awesome and super funny! It was so fun to get to hang with him and the 2 other kids of his crew!! And the ride down was super fun with a small jump at the end! fun enough to go back up and do it again.. even if it meant missing the cab and walk home.. but of course with those kids the “walk” home turned into a snowball purchase through the whole village! Hihi! Love these!
The next day we woke up in the bad weather and didn’t stress too much about being up there.. but once in the gondola we realized that the sun was very bright above the clouds! We first went on the same mountain again.. but there were so many crews already that we ran away to the next part of the resort wehre we directly spotted a really cool step down over a cliff. it was a sweet almost natural hit! It was very hot that day and the snow transformed into spring slush.. but still easy to land on. The spot worked out pretty well even though the landing had been cooked by the time we were done with it!
When we got back everyone I crossed told me that my face was very red! That’s when I realized that the sunscreen I had been using that day was in fact after sun lotion!! I love it when you get a really tomato red face.. it always helps being ridiculously good looking!!
On the 3rd day we hiked about an hour up above the slopes top to find a cool kicker spot. It was so hot again and we were sweating big time! The snow was still good in the landing and the 3 three of us shaped a humongous kicker in 2 hours. The monster was 2.20m tall and 2 boards wide! That’s probably because Vanessa was shaping! She always makes such HUGE blocks! Anyways when I hit the kicker for the first time, the sun had been so hot already that my board really sunk into the kicker which was way too soft because of the heat and of course the landing was really bad by then. It was a bit. sketchy to ride, and I did tumble couple times, but it worked out at the end. We were especially tired that day after the hike and the shaping and it was a pleasure to take my boots off and die on my bed!
Vanessa and one of her big blocks.
After that the weather wasn’t as good anymore and the avalanche danger was way too high for us to go hit the backcountry. We took it easy and went partying! It was the GIRLS night out.. cause the 50 other guys just stayed in and went to bed.. besides the 2 Swiss guys.. so that was 4 of us in a pretty empty bar.. with only Swedish tourists as party mates! It started quietly playing dice and turned out to be quite rock n roll! I woke up the next day with a moustache drawn on my face and Vanessa’s gracious after party voice! Luckily I had been drinking water that night which made the 10 hours drive home much easier on the next day!