[UPDATE - NOW WITH VIDEO!]
The Ästhetiker's flagship contest wrapped up early due to heavy snowfall, with the team comprised of the elder statesmen of Austrian snowboarding - Steve Gruber, Friedl Kolar and Rudi Kröll - coming out victorious in the innovative Gäng Jäm. Read more...
If there's one 'contest' on the planet that sums up the true spirit of snowboarding best, it's the Wängl Tängl. In its 9th year, this bro-down in Mayrhofen is in turns fun, drunk, chaotic, progressive, innovative, confusing. And more. But when boiled down you can encapsulate the whole shebang in one word - AWESOME.
Let's face it - if we wanted laser precision and sobriety we'd be ass-banging the FIS till the cows came home. And then we'd get the cows involved themselves. The beauty of the Wängl is that it manages to combine the creative passion most snowboarders can relate to with the chaotic elements of living on the fly that all snowboarders can relate to. Hell, the contest was wrapped up a day before it was supposed to start due to imminent bad weather, but as they say: "It's on when it's on!"
As has become the norm with the Wängl, the Ästhetiker boys had been given free reign of the Vans Penken Park and set about sculpting a masterpiece of innovative shred terrain. Regular straigntforward booters, transfers, jibs and a double hip/cradle/wallride/gap-over endsection meant there was a multitude of lines riders could take and though triple corking mega spins were absent the riders were ensuring that the pedigree of style was continued as they destroyed the setup.
The call it a contest. That's a pretty loose term. The official line is it's a team event with 3 riders per crew competing for a slice of the eurodollar shaped pie. In reality it's all about buddies shredding together, getting stoked on each other's efforts, and trying to emerge unscathed when there's 2 other duders hitting the park at the same time. Seriously, it was all about the gameplan at the top of the course, with teams plotting who'd hit what where and in which direction in an effort to prevent spanking into each other as most teams tried to ride only a couple metres apart. "On you're left!" "Spinning right!" that was the kind of stuff you'd hear on course. Now imagine this with a belly full of schnapps from the Evil Dr Fenkenstein. Danger, Danger.
But these guys are true pros and although there were a couple of injuries most teams emerged unscathed. It has to be said that this was by far the most enjoyable contest we hit up this season. Maybe it's something to do with becoming desensitised to the double dipping übercoptering that is so hot in major events these days but here, although Clemens Schattschneider was dropping double 10s into his team's run, most guys seemed happy to send slow 3s, 5s and 7s and get their jib on. Special mention must also go to the UK's Billy Morgan for his awesome Miller Flips over the end section's wallride; Andre Kuhlmann's huge pop tarts on the hip, Mone Monsberger's one-footers on the wallride, and a dude who's name we missed throwing double backies with gay abandon.
To be honest, it was a nightmare to try and follow what was happening in the comp. Figuring out what one guy's doing down the course it no biggie but when there's three on course at once it's pretty hard to keep up. God only knows how they managed to judge it. But judge it they did and despite some strong challenges from last year's winners, Team Absolut, and another team of locals, The Djudes, the crack team of veteran Ästhetiker hombres known as Team 96 (named so as their combined age is 96-years-old) – made up of Steve Gruber, Friedl Kolar and Rudi Kröll – had the style, the synchronicity and the stomps to see them top the pile.
Then it was time to check the insane skateboarding, bop heads to the beats and skull a couple cold ones with friends celebrating the spirit the Ästhetiker live for. Next year's gig, if we're not mistaken, will be the 10-year anniversary so we're looking forward to what they come up with for that already.
Results Wängl Tängl 2011
1. TeÄm 96 (Steve Gruber, Rudi Kröll, Friedl Kolar) AUT
2. The Djudes (Chris Kröll, Mario Wanger, Flo Heim)AUT
3. Team Absolut (Michi Stanschitz, Philipp Gruber, Thomas Minichberger) AUT