To paraphrase some smartarse, writing about the Wängl Tängl is like dancing about architecture. Words, and even photos and video, fail to convey the laid back vibe, the carnage and the atmosphere at this most unique of snowboard contests, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary here in Mayrhofen.
If there was ever a contest that does the clichéd phrase of ‘by riders, for riders’ justice it is this. And ‘contest’ is perhaps to strong of a term to use – there will be a winning team and there’s some greenbacks up for grabs, yes, but the vibe is that of a laid back session, only the riding is anything but reclining.
And it’s not just about the snowboarding either, that’s but one spike on the three-pronged trident of awesome that makes the Wängl such a unique event – the other prongs being the always-mindblowing miniramp skateboarding (kicks off tonight) and art show in the form of the Looking Sideways exhibition that we stroked our chins to last night. Here, some of sidestanding’s foremost creative talents were on show, with work from the likes of Blaise Rosenthal, Ed Templeton, Danny Larsen and Schoph to name a few.
But we take kickbacks from the snowboard industry, so let’s focus on the on hill action of today’s qualifiers, shall we? Ok, good. First up, the shaping crew deserve massive props for once again outdoing themselves with a course rammed full of kickers, innovative transfers, unique jibstacles and more. And on this the riders sent it – all at once. Yep, the Wängl is once again a team event with teams of three dudes machine gunning through the course at once making for a mindblowing, yet often confusing, spectacle. This gäng bäng was an orgy of synchronised shredding.
For all the talk of triple corks sounding the death knell of snowboarding, this is a reminder that a contest does not necessarily have to be a whirlybirding huckfest – sure kids like Tor Lundstrom were sending doubles deep but for every back 10 there was a smooth front 3 or a back 5 crail – often in tandem - to have the crowd hooting their respect. The emphasis was on the stoke a team’s run evoked, rather than checking off all four 12s, and the judges made it clear that they’d value style, diversity and synchronicity above all hence it forced riders to think a little different. It was common to hear teams plotting their runs, who’d go where and hit what when. One run from The Djudes – Peter König, Chris Kröll and Mario Wanger – really stood out in this regard. Two of ‘em were so in tune over the kicker line that their spins were identical; it was like watching synchronised swimming but, erm, good, without swimsuits and not a bit bent.
It was a head-to-head – or rather team-to-team – format and much like in surfing the crew that got knocked out had a second chance in the losers round, and then a second-second chance in the last chance saloon. With riders sending it left, right and centre it was hard to keep up with what was going down, but the judges managed to sort the wheat from the chaff, stick the chaff back in, whittle it down again, and come to a group of 8 teams who’ll face off against each other in tomorrow’s quarters. And these are who they are…
The Collective (Max Birri, Tor Lundstrom & Boris Buhler)
Team F.A.T. (Alex Walch, Flo Heim & Tom Tramnitz)
Triple Cock (Janne Korpi, Peetu Piiroinen, & Ville Uotila)
Team Absolut (Herby Thaler, Michi Stanschitz & Phips Gruber)
Off The Wall (Kalle Ohlson, Arthur Longo & Eric Willet)
The Italian Connection (Marco Grigis, Stefano Munari & Filippo Kratter)
YMCA (Mathias Weissenbacher, Clemens Schattschneider & Adrian Krainer)
The Cunning Stunts (Paul Dreher, Patrick Held & Philipp Frötscher)
There’s no messing. We are backing this event and the finals tomorrow will go off. Click back tomorrow for what went down.