After three hours of driving from Munich to a small, small (really small) village somewhere in the Bregenzer Wald, Onboard´s photo editor Sami Tuoriniemi and me arrived in “the world´s most snowy village" Damüls on Friday late afternoon. With a great view from our apartment to the gigantic mountains of the Northern Alpes, we were looking forward to the next day – especially as it was supposed to dump the whole night!
For us, it was the first time to join the ARC. The event is made for the best and most motivated youngblood riders. Sent by their sponsors they have the chance to be interviewed, filmed or photographed by one of the several mags. Brandnew this year: No rider´s voting but the editors of the magazines should judge. So Sami abandoned his camera and watched out for the youngsters! But not on Friday evening as the sledge session was only an inofficial comp in which everybody could take part in and a lot of Schnaps was offered (somehow it made me go faster...). Some dudes obviously wanted to break the world speed record and crashed in an iron fence with 70 km/h or more – the sledge and the two drivers seemed to explode and went in all directions but fortunately none got hurt (except the sledge which was crap).
Saturday it was still snowing – time for the Backcountry Session! Split in different groups, each with a photographer or filmer and an editor, Sami and me tried to follow the wild youngsters who didn´t miss any possibility to do frontflips over the smallest edges (we are old and had to suffer a hangover from the sledge session and following poker night!). Suddenly there were rumours that the Forum and Red Bull crew had built a jump over a river and after half an hour of searching the resort we finally found them. Unfortunately the landing was kind of flat (really flat!) so it was hard for the boys to stick their tricks but it was a really nice spot! After having a break in the sauna, we were ready for the Night Rail Session at 7 p.m. with two picknick tables and a 8 m woodrail. The kids loved it, especially one: Jesse Augustinus, 11 years old, from Holland and with a broken arm (!), didn´t seem to get tired – after riding the whole day from 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., he started again on 6 and went on until 9.30! No surprise that he is already one of the Forum guys... But one rider was really outstanding: Nitro´s Marc Swoboda was going insane on the rails and hiked up around 50 times I think. I would have given him an extra award for that…
With bluebird sky, spring temperatures and a perfect shaped park (including a big roller with a step-up flavor, a quarterpipe with a barrel, upbox, a downrail plus a douple set of a second downrail and a gap-box), the highlight of the ARC was ready to start on Sunday.
Without any numbers, the judges had a hard time to get to know who was who but that is part of the ARC: The youngsters should ride without any contest pressure and just enjoy snowboarding. The whole day was a jam session! The kids did their best to impress each other – crazy combinations over the rails, stylish handplants on the quarter and some really nice 540s, 720s and almost landed Backflips 180 over the kicker.
What the judges already had assumed yesterday was now proven: Marc Swoboda was on fire this weekend! He not only won the Rail Session but also the Best Style and Overall ranking (unfortunately I didn´t get a single shot of him as he was somehow too fast for my camera...). Austrian Werni Stock showed the Best Trick with an Inverted Frontside 7 over the big roller and Florian Galler was the best rider Under 18. But also little Jesse (who travelled to the ARC with his cool dad) got a price for being the Best Youngblood out there and I´m sure we will hear a lot from him in the future… Marc Sowboda not only got some TTR points (the ARC was a 2 star event) but also a wildcard for the Ästhetiker Wängl Tängl in Mayrhofen (March 22 to 25) as well as 1000 Euros.
The balance sheet of this weekend: One crashed sledge, 40 Euros lost by photo editor Sami with poker, 15 centimetres of fresh powder, four happy winners and over 40 other happy kids who just enjoyed a great time in the mountains… And that´s what it is all about, right?
Thanks ARC for this great weekend!
More information: www.austrianrookiechallenge.at
Live life to the fullest - Mel