Words: Tom Copsey
Despite his mild-mannered exterior, Werni Stock is a fighter. As a young up-and-comer he looked destined for greatness thanks to his cocktail of effortless spins and hyper smooth style. Appearances at the Air+Style with his flawless switch back 12s further endeared him to the Austrian faithful and these performances, along with his parts in the Pirates movies, started turning the rest of the world on to feeling the Wern.
However, just as his star was beginning to shine, Werni suffered a blown knee – not uncommon for any kind of progressive snowboarder – but it was to mark the beginning of what seemed like persistent injury purgatory for the young Austrian rider. Get hurt at the start of the season, rehab for 4-5 months, start sending it again, get hurt. Repeat.
But through five surgeries, bacterial infections and countless painful hours in the gym, his passion for snowboarding never dimmed. If anything, it became even stronger. Now, with a couple of injury free seasons under his belt he’s back at it harder for ever filming with Torstein and the boys for the Shred Bots movies.
He’s never given up.
Where did you grow up?
We grew up all the way at the end of the Zillertal, it’s pretty close to Hintertux. The town is called Lanersbach.
Did you parents start taking you into the mountains from an early age? Skiing, or straight snowboarding?
Actually the place is right in the mountains so my parents didn’t really have to take me anywhere. Next to my parents’ place there’s a lift; you walk 50 metres and you’re at the T-bar. So I learned skiing when I was two, and snowboarding when I was six. From then on I was into snowboarding, because skiing wasn’t fun anymore. I had the best childhood, the nicest parents, I could go out in town – they’d never [have to] watch out for me or because it’s a really small and safe spot, so I hope one day I can give my children a life like this.
As soon as you started snowboarding was that it?
I mean skiing was cool, I did races and stuff like this, but there this thing where racing wasn’t enough – because you always want to jump as a kid, you know? You want to do something cool, and snowboarding was always the coolest, so as soon as I learned it I never even thought about skiing anymore because [snowboarding’s] so much cooler. Even if you rode powder and just did small hits, it’s just so much better.
Did you start getting into freestyle snowboarding pretty early? They’ve had the park in Mayrhofen for many years; was that around when you were coming up?
I think there was a park even years before, but the connection to Mayrhofen just started in 2006 or something. So I started riding freestyle super late, actually. I rode 10 or 15 years in the same resort, and it’s still my favourite resort. Just riding the slope, the natural jumps we had, powder… we were always a big crew – Bigfoot riders, snowboarders… just like this really sick crew doing runs. Those runs I even still do today. When I do those jumps that I did back in the day, and they felt super big… now they’re pretty small [laughs] but it’s so much fun and really good memories. Yeah, my home resort is by far the coolest resort to ride – it’s probably one of the smallest, I know, but one of the coolest I need to say.
[Werni’s a dude, so here’s his D.U.D.E. part form way back when…]