April 21 2007, 8th Longboard Classic Stuben/ Arlberg
Positive vibrations in Stuben!
Legends, firn, summer feeling and Reggae vibes at the 8th LBC Stuben!
It was a weird season and snow condition did not improve till spring. Even the Arlberg resort had its problems at the end of April and had to shorten the racetrack for the 8th Longboard Classic in Stuben. But despite the summer had already come to the cities, about 270 freeride enthusiastics came to Stuben to celebrate the end of the season!
With hindsight, the motto of the event was quality not quantity. Organizer Paul Gruber had resolved a lot for the eighth Longboard Classic: Meeting of the legends, a Guinness Book™ of records entry as the snowboard event with the most participants and he definitely wanted to make it and unforgettable event for everyone taking part. Most of his plans worked out, although one would have liked to raise the bar. But 270 active participants in one snowboard event is at least something to be proud of. But that was the only downer on this weekend with a lot of summer vibes. The official legends taking part in the race were Micky Früh, Werner Früh, Dani Kiwi Meier (all SUI), Ishi Shigeru (JPN), Peter König (GER), Serge Dupraz (FRA), Martin Freinademetz (AUT) and of course Paul Gruber himself. But as modest Paul says: Everyone who took part at this year's Longboard Classic is a legend!
On Friday night the longboarders came together in the big party tent at the valley station to have some fun at the live concerts: The first gig was a band named Stinky Moonboots from outer space, a rock band with band member Paul Gruber, that mostly plays cover versions. The second live act was a bit more hardcore: Muha got the audience rocking and it was the pre-event party with the most people ever. Saturday was the official event day. Bluebird and up to 23 degrees Celsius in Stuben village which is located on 1407 meters above sea level, let the snow turn into firn very fast. After a few warm up runs on the slopes, about 30 women, 40 oldschoolers and 200 general starters met at the Albona ridge at 12:00h. The technical operator, Dani Kiwi Meier let the riders decide whether they wanted to start directly from the Albona ridge or take the 20 minute walk to the peak of the Maroiköpfle before. But there was no clear decision so they threw a coin and finally started from the Albona ridge. The 40 oldschoolers started first, equipped with old Crazy Banana Chilly Willys, Burton Cruzers and Burton Elites, Fanatic Boas, Sims Boards and some other more or less floating legendary boards. They were a colourful bunch as some of them were dressed in their original eighties outfits. After a short hike the boards were strapped on and they went down the shortened off -piste track of 560 meters down to the middle station of the Albona ridge. We have to point out the oldschoolers of the Element SB School and the Shop in Scuol(e.g. Sandro Damiani), who dropped in the ridge with stylish Rocket Airs and got applause from everyon for their brave act. Finally the first European Halfpipe Champion Micky Früh (SUI) arrived first on his Sims Ultimate.
The women started 5 minutes later. And we could also see some unbelievable scenes when they approached the finish line: No matter if they arrived first, last or sometime in the middle field at the Red Bull aim sign, you could only see happy, laughing faces. The riders hugged each other and were just happy that they did the last run of the season together under this excellent firn conditions. The first ranked Christine Innerhofer (AUT) nearly had time for her interview as she wanted to take part in the Weißen Rausch which was taking place at the same time in St Anton. Second ranked Aline Bock (AUT) was a little bit more chilled and joined the award ceremony later on. Anna (unfortunately we only know her first name) had the third best time.
Finally a crowd of 200 men dropped in the Albona backcountry at the same time. And it was not about winning the race but about the experience of riding one of the most legendary freeride fields together. But after all it is an honour to win this race and the name of the winner was a familiar one. Every time Ralph Castelberg from Switzerland takes part in a top-to-bottom race, he is one of the favourites. He already won the Longboard Classic in Stuben a couple of times and even this year nobody could beat him. Ralph went down the 560 meters to the middle station in a straight line on his 200cm Rad Air Tanker like Evel Knievel. Volker Weiss (GER) was ranked second and Michael Bergauer (AUT) got third. In the finish line we could see unbelievable scenes like from a hippie movie: Happy faces everywhere, high fives and hugs after this perfect run.
But the day was not over jet. The mild weather conditions were too perfect to leave the snow. So, most of the riders had some more fun riding in the firn and doing natural waterslides, little jumps and oldschool tricks in the resort.
Only at 15:30 pm the participants appeared at the award ceremony in Stuben village which was supposed to be at 16:00pm. And here we also saw scenes that hardly reminded of a snowboard weekend or even a snowboard race. Due to the beautiful weather the turntables were put in front of the tent and even the award ceremony was held outside. But let´s start at the beginning: Just imagine the following picture: Coming down the mountain and seeing a set of two Jacuzzies, 200 soulsisters and soulbrothers bathing in the sun, chilli being served and the Roots Rockers Sound System playing finest Raggae tunes over a PA that is strong enough to provide the whole village with its sound. There is no better way to celebrate the end of the season! – Or is there? Ah yes, it would be pretty cool to take home a nice present. Yep, and even in this case the Lonboard Classic was a satisfaction. Everyone is a winner! Sure, the first ranked were specially honoured and got their applause and several trophies for all the award winners were given away like: The oldest participants (Uli J, age 54 , sorry, I forgot to write the womans´ name down), the youngest participant (Linus Knapp (SUI), 10 years), the owner of the oldest boards, the Neon Award for the coolest oldschool outfit (Kain Ingo Tonne (GER), and the LBC Soul Master Award(Ishihara “Ishi" Shigeru flew in from Japan not for the first time. He is one of the first Japanese snowboarders and director of the Japan Snowboarding Association). So everyone can win some giveaways from the LBC. And normally there are so many goodies thrown into the crowd that everyone gets his present. The award ceremony took almost an hour and was presented by Kiwi and Paul in the funniest way before the Roots Rockers Sound System filled the air of the little village with their sound during the whole afternoon.
In the evening they showed some snowboard videos in the tent. Some of you might think now: Oh, how boring. But you are wrong! – The videos were special ones you will never find in any video shop and will never be available on Youtube or anything like that. Ishi imported the first snowboard film ever from the year 1976. This contemporary document nearly got lost and shows the founder of Winterstick Snowboards, Dimitrie Milovitch in breathtaking powder fields on a swallow tail board in a binding without a highback. More highlights this evening were: Amateur tapes from the first snowboard halfpipe contest ever, organizer Paul Gruber in a documentary about the new sport „snowboarding" on the Swiss television in the eighties. Laughter, standing ovations and probably some held back tears here and there from the legends were the emotional highlight of this time travel.
And of course: No successful event without a final party. Let´s rock! After the videos were shown, The Roots Rockers performed again and the whole festival tent was bouncing. DJ Vinz finally had to send the party crowd to bed at about 2:00 am after his session. All together it was an awesome Longboard Classic that once more will make history in snowboarding. Not as the Longboard Classic with the most participants but surely as the LBC with the most affectionate participants!
Hardfacts: April 21 2007, 8th Longboard Classic Stuben/ Arlberg, Racetrack: Albona ridge (2400m) to Albona ropeway middle station (1840m), Number of participants: about 270.
- LBC ORIGINAL - GIRLS
- 1 Christine Innerhofer (AUT)
- 2 Aline Bock (AUT)
- 3 Anna
- LBC ORIGINAL - BOYZ
- 1 Ralph Castelberg (SUI)
- 2 Volker Weiss (GER)
- 3 Michael Bergauer (AUT)
- 4 Christian Schnabel (AUT)
- LBC OLD SCHOOL GIRLZ
- 1 Andrea
- 2 Jule/ Magic Mungo (GER)
- LBC OLD SCHOOL BOYZ
- 1 Micki Früh (SUI)
- 2 Florian Knoblich (GER)
- 3 Jakob Holub (GER)
- Special Awards:
- LBC Neon Award: Kai Ingo Tonne (GER)
- LBC Oldest Rider Award: Uli (54) (GER)
- LBC Oldest Board Award: Burton Performer Elite 150. Sorry – we missed the name of the guy riding this piece!
- LBC Youngest Rider Award: Linus Knapp (10 Jahre) (SUI)
- LBC Soul Master Award: Ishi (Ishihara Shigeru), (JPN)