So, I just got back from hauling my fat ass to Innsbruck and back. I am totally drained as I had to wake up at 7 am today. I know, for most normal people 7 is a quite an exceptable time for waking up. For useless, lazy, beer guzzling chubby dudes, who like to eat a tiny bit or two before going to sleep, its a whole different story. I read somewhere that eating before going to sleep has the body expend lots of energy for digestive purposes, so while your body should be resting and recharging itself, it is actually working full throttle to digest those nasty chips that you just had to stuff your face with.
Upon arriving in Innsbruck I was very happy to have the new intern with me, as she has a sense of orientation that is by far superior to mine. Within ten minutes of arriving into town we found the Hotel Innsbruck where are first destination was for the the press conference. Familiar faces greeted us in the lobby, which almost made me forget my fatigue.
As I entered the conference room, I was a little dissapointed not to see Terje, as it was said that he will be attending. For a while it was said that he would also be riding in the comp, but his shoulder which he injured sometime in December was keeping him from it. Instead of him I saw three young enthusiastic faces waiting for the whole thing to get started. Sitting in a row like little devilish school boys were Manuel Pietropoli, Scotty Lago and the local young gun Werni Stock. They were accompanied by Air&Style mastermind Andrew Hourmont, the Tirolean Director of Tourism Dr. Hubert Kilngan, Ried Pinder from Billabong Europe and Hannes Schönegger from the TTR. To keep it short: everyone especially Tirol, Werni and Andrew were stoked about the Air&Style coming back to its roots. Everyone was saying that the QP was looking good, and that the tranny also had a good feel eventhough the organizers had a little bit of a struggle due to rainy warm weather last week. The vibe being communicated was one of optimism and excitement for Saturday.
After the press conference we made our way up to the Berg Isel Stadium, where we got to take a first glance at the monster that had been built. Everything around the inrun and QP was, as expected, green. I was wondering how the snow consistency was, and if it would be able to deliver the speed that the riders needed to pop out of the 10 meter high monster. My scepticism was soon silenced as, after a couple of riders, Finchy came charging down the inrun with a good 80 something km/h and effortlessly popped out of the pipe pulling a Fs Tail. Mmmmmmh did it look good. Manuel Pietropoli was also showing why he deserves the nickname 'flying Italian' going seriously big. The biggest surprise for me though, was seeing the next rider drop in wearing a white jacket and black pants. I was trying to think of who it could be, as he blazed passed me in the inrun. He busted out a proper Bs Air with proper steeze. Checking out the board graphic consisting of a spade, heart, clubs, and diamond it dawned upon me. It was none other but Mr. Poker Ingemar Backman! Whaaaaaat?! So much steeze! I was stoked to say the least. So I guess the one living legend, Terje, might be replaced by another. Makes sense kind of. I mean it definitely makes sense, regarding the fact the Backman just rules tranny's like none other. I won't mention the famous Bs Air in Riks. Ooops, I think I just kinda did.
I was able to catch up with a couple riders like Steve Gruber, who didn't really know what he was doing at a QP contest. He was invited and didn't ride a QP in a while, so he said to himself, 'why not?'. Manuel Pietropoli was stoked on the QP, and when asked if he was going for huuge air just knodded his head confirmingly in modesty. Elias Elhardt told me that he was stoked to be able to ride a QP period, as it is difficult to ride really good, big quarters as they are so scarce.
The other big names were untouchable for a mere mortal such as myself, but I think everyone is pretty much stoked. Safety was a big concern after 99', but we were ashured that the organizers had it on lockdown, and with 30% more security and safety personel it should all be good.
IMPORTANT TO EVERYONE READING THIS!
ALL TICKETS ARE SOOOOLD OUT! So, maybe its not such a good idea to go there in the hopes of somehow getting in, because the stadium is already packed to the rafters.
See you all there!
(Words by The Grgas)