When: 17-19 October, 2008
Where: Kaunertal, Austria.
[Photos: Sami Tuoriniemi.]
Hello, good evening and welcome from Austria's, err, Kauner valley where we have been making mischief for the last couple of days.
I would have reported back yesterday, but there was no news to report. I felt a little like poor Peter O'Hanahra-Hanrahan in The Day Today, berated by Chris Morris: "You've lost the news, Peter!" Ah well, won't lose any sleep over it as we don't appear to be getting a lot of sleep anyway.
This is the Kaunertal Opening's 23rd year and serves as the Austrian alps season kick off proper as the Mondial du Snow in Les 2 Alpes does for the Frenchies. And I guess as the Ski Show does for the Brits. Hmm. The format is pretty much similar to Mondial, too: a small village of tents at the foot of the glacier populated by a wide variety of snowboard brands eager to get the throngs of stoked kids involved in their new season's kit. There's a full array of gear to be demoed and it's a good opportunity to 'try before you buy' while getting amongst some hefty partying with like-minded teenagers. Teenagers, we are not, so yesterday's party was eye-opening to say the least.
Anyway, in addition to the freebie-grabbing, gluwein glugging and board testing, there was also contest to give the Opening even more bang for its buck. Though we've been blessed with bluebird for the last two days, there has been a distinctly wintery bite to the air and the snow conditions on the glacier were, shall we say, firm. Sami, our Finnish photo editor, claimed it was perfect - like a Finnish powder day - before rolling off nuggets of wisdom like, "Ice is your best teacher", but nevertheless the going was tough, especially seeing as the riders not only had to ride the kicker line, they also had a minishred course that was the contest's second component, which meant the riders that made it to the final had been riding from 9am till 3.30pm with only a quick break for lunch to take a breath. Oh well, my day's work is still going, bitches! Mind you, my bed is way softer than the landings were so I suppose we'll call it a draw.
After some hucking and spinning and the odd wince-inducing knuckling, the shreds were whittled down to Elias Elhardt, Patrick Huber, Gerome 'Coin Coin' Mathieu and Peter König with Caroline Beliard and a lady whose name escapes me (sorry!) for the fairer sex. I'll be honest: the communication of the schedule was not the best, either that or my hearing was damaged in the party tent last night, so I ended up making it to the minishred just as Elias Elhardt was caning towards me. "What time does it kick off then, mate?" "Ah, it's just finished dude," the ever-smiling German said. "But we're all going to hit the kickers now." Great. I made it over to a nice viewing spot just as the action kicked off, alongside the French APO crew who were making sure their homies Gerome and Caroline could hear them.
The riding was solid. König showing the smoothness that helped us win the Jib-Vid last march; Coin Coin lost the plot and went for a doublecork before having a solid run that included the front 10 tail that netted him the Best Trick award; Beliard put down a smooth front 3 and frontide 180 to bag it for the chicks; Huber span like Taz with his individual style; but young Elias was the undoubted stompmaster of the proceedings, thwacking down cab 9s and switch backside 7s in a very Gimpl-like manner.
Thankfully, the gluwein warmed my extremities when we made it down and, though hobbled a little by the satanic combination of new boots and a too-long toenail, managed to engage in some funny Franglaise with Coin Coin, and have a bit of pan-magazine love-in. Don't believe everything you read - though it makes for bad copy we all love each other, go for long walks at sunset and regularly swap fluids.
So now we're chilling in the crib, contemplating getting involved with 10% of the riders' winnings. If you're around, come on up and blag free scheisse, shred the park and get the legs warmed up. There's even an am comp too. Winter is officially around the corner.