When: Thu 1st of January 1970
Where: Hintertux, Austria
I suck at getting up early, but I must confess it’s a great time of the day. I must confess, I often wonder why the quiet early hours of the day don’t come later on, like when I’m actually awake. Surely that wouldn’t bee too much to ask?
The reason for my rare appreciation of a clear summer’s morning was Burton’s Team week in Hintertux. A journey to shred that area from Munich usually involves an early start, and in summertime it involves a really early start.
Burton’s riders from the four corners of Europe were present, from established names like Iker Fernandez and Marco Grilc to future superstars Peetu Piiroinen, Sami Saranapaa, Christian Haller and other diminutive young shred from across Europe.
Ok, I’ll admit it. We turned up a little late (Note to anyone making a day trip to Hinturtux: there’s a bunch of construction work on the road up there, so it can take a while getting from Mayrhofen to the base station), but a good session was still in progress.
Snowboarding’s so much more than just sliding around on a big ski.
Peetu, Sami, Russian Alex and a couple of others were still throwing down the hammers on the medium-sized jump. Due to the heat, though, there was really only this one kicker to hit. The pipe looked like it had seen better days, as did the hip. The heat had obviously made upkeep of the features impossible, with reshaping only being done to get the park ready for the next morning’s early morning session, the prime time being the scant hour or so between jumps and landings being bulletproof before melting into speed-sapping slush. With the snow line being higher than I’ve ever seen it, one is inevitably drawn to thinking how much longer it will be possible for us to be able to ride in the summers.
But such concerns aside, the brief time I was there reminded me of the good times and what summer riding’s all about. A bit of a shred with soft landings, and then a communal, family vibe with everyone hanging out in the sun, swimming, playing football, skating, drinking and the like. Snowboarding’s so much more than just sliding around on a big ski, and the added dimension of 30 degree heat when you come off the hill is something that everyone who calls themselves a snowboarder should experience.
Let’s hope that the good vibes put out by the Burton crew’s summer shred are feasible for more than the next few summers. It might be closing the door after the horse has bolted, as we English say, but I’m cycling to work from now on.
Thanks to Birgit, Hasi, the riders and the rest of the Burton crew for reminding me why snowboarding isn’t just for winter.