When Onboard dropped in on Westendorf in February 2008, we found perfect snow, ribbed groomers and a park that was second to none in Austria. The crowds were minimal, the nightlife limited but warming (thanks to the Jäger-bombs) and our accommodation was cosy. You could literally drop off the balcony onto the piste. What more could you ask of a resort?
The legendary snowboarder and Ästhetiker crew member Gogo Gossner was our guide and as a Westendorfer born and bred - when not surfing or on the pro circuit - he knows the place like his mama. Throughout the winter months, he is the boss in the park, which goes by the name of the Boarders’ Playground. If you get on the gondola in Westerndorf, you’ll see signs to the park at its end, which direct you right around the mountain and down to a second lift which takes you high above the park.
The park consists of two distinct lines – a pro line and a public line – serviced by a fast moving four-man chair, from which you can check on the steeze of other park users. Although we were a little weak-legged from months of desk jockeying, the kickers proved to be perfectly formed and above all safe. Even those in the pro line were makeable by mortals and of a shape that inspired progression in the intermediate–to-bloody-good category of rider. But beware towards the end of the season, the bottom glory kicker is super-sized for the Ästhetiker Shred Down. There is a clubhouse with music and a chill area by the big kicker which is a good spot to take lunch and watch the local rippers of the The Shredheadz throw down hammers. You can also hike the wall-ride and various rails of the pro-line from here, but be warned they are not for the faint of heart. When we were in town, the 17-year-old local Simon Pircher was giving the rainbow, stepdown and humped-to-straight rail a good workout. Keep an eye out for Simon who was apparently being hounded to join Burton last season.The public line of the park is accessible to anyone who wants to progress their freestyling. After the shared entrance kickers of the park, pros turn right while a hip and rail garden await mere mortals on the left. Here the boxes are well made and of a size that is not off-putting but still challenging enough to test… as the C rail did to us (shin-welts for proof). Do watch out for kooks, though, in both the pro and public parks as it is impossible to police the entrance and landings and knuckles act like fly-paper to idiots. ‘Mouche à merde’ is a French expression that springs to mind.
Beyond the Boarders’ Playground, Westendorf offers limitless backcountry possibilities, and under the guidance of Gogo we experienced some of the better powder stashes. Although it hadn’t snowed in 5 days, there were still plenty of powder fields in full view of the pistes that had not been tracked. There is no greater pleasure than looking back at your lines on a virgin face, especially when the hike was an arduous climb of nearly two hours. Be sensible, though, if you are heading out of bounds and be sure to check snow conditions, carry the right equipment and preferably go with a local who knows the way.
So in conclusion, before we pass the mic to Gogo, we would just like to say thanks to Gogo for showing us around, all the Shredheadz who threw down some mad trickery in the park for us and also accompanied us on our hike, and the tourist board of Westendorf. This resort is certainly a place we would come back to, especially after a good dump! INTERVIEW WITH GOGO
How long have you lived in Westendorf? All my life.
How long have you been managing the park for? 10 years.
Can you describe the park and its layout? The park has developed and grown over the years and is now one of the largest in Austria. The Park is divided into Public and Pro, and offers a variety of different obstacles, jumps, rails and boxes. Smooth kickers and fluid runs are key to the satisfaction of all levels of shred. Simply Boarders’ Playground.
Where would you go in the early morning of a really good powder day that was accessible from the chairs? Take the one-man chairlift to the top of the mountain (Chorlift) then hit the Nordabfahrt or the Gasstation run. Both top–to-bottom leg burners and always in shadow – the snow stays fresh.
Can you introduce readers to a powder run that is accessible from a small hike? There are many possibilities to get a quickie. Gampenkogel to Ki-West or Brechhorn. Just look around and hike it.
Which run or runs are the most fun for snowboarders looking to jib around outside the park? Can you describe how to get there and what it is like? You can jib around anywhere and the slopes are fun here. Banks, rollers and natural hits are everywhere. There are also fun runs from the mid-station down to Gondola.
Where do riders hang out and party in town? Village Pub, Karat Bar. There’s a lot of après ski too.
Is there a really cool shop to buy snowboard stuff? Unfortunatly not, but I will open one soon. Watch out for a BP store soon.
What snowboard events go on in Westendorf and when? The Shredheadz (local Snowboard Club) organise a couple of smaller events, more like jam sessions, riding together, shooting and filming, with a BBQ and party at night. The main event every year is the Ästhetiker SHRED DOWN. This year will be its 10th anniversary. It’s gonna be off the hook!
What is the best time to come and ride Westendorf? From January to end the of March.
Who are the local rippers to watch out for? There are a couple of talents in this town, like Zoki and a lot of good shredders coming from all around the area like the KK surfers from Wildschönau. Biggest local talent and rookie of course is Simon Pircher, who is 17. He’s doing real good at contests and has good style. LIFT TICKETS
Here are the prices for the lift tickets. There are two possibilities:
1) Lift ticket ‘Top Ski Kitzbüheler Alpen’ - One ski pass for five ski resorts Kitzbühel/Kirchberg ski resort SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser, Brixental Schneewinkel ski region Alpachtal ski resort Hochtal Wildschönau
Adult: 1 day: €43 2 days: €82.50 3 days: €116 7 days: €225
2) Lift ticket for SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser, Brixental only
Adult: 1 day: from €33.50 2 days: from €58.50 3 days: from €88.50 7 days: from €172.50