Dirt: The Stuff Dreams are Made of…
Words by Melanie Schönthier
This winter, the Horsefeathers Superpark Planai has undergone a major facelift and lights up in a completely new shine. What looks like enormous molehills at a first glance, is the shape of a terrain park of the next generation, making freestyle-dreams come true.
Last season, QParks, largest snowpark supplier of the German-speaking area, established a completely new dimension of snowparks on the Planai, one of the most advanced winter sport regions in Austria. With the Horsefeathers Superpark Planai, a first-class freestyle project has finally been realized. Besides numerous kickers serving all sizes and skill levels, the park scores especially with the immense offerings of boxes ranging from doublekinked and straight boxes up to downrails and picnic-tables. For the up-coming season, the Superpark was completely revised and thereby, the Planai-Hochwurzen-Railways together with the QParks-crew have surpassed themselves.
According to the Austrian pro Marco Hafez, “last year the park was already cool. This year, however, the new terrain works will make it absolutely perfect”, also addressing the good job park-designer Bernd Mandlberger has done. After meticulous work on the computer throughout the summer, the whole hillside has been dug up so that finally nobody could miss the result: The largest earth-terrain park Europe has ever seen! The entire area has been extended, new features such as a new 3-laned kicker-line for advanced riders were installed, and the area for intermediates and beginners was enlarged by brand-new rails and boxes. The only thing missing at the moment is snow. But also in this respect, the new terrain forms bear many advantages. Since the shape is already given by the terrain, much less snow is needed than for traditional parks. Hence, it becomes possible to open the park much earlier than in the past, much to the delight of the riders. Even from an environmental perspective, the park requires less artificially produced snow and fewer operations by heavy machines. On a long run, these measures save plenty of energy, water and fuel.
There’s probably no one out there who knows the Horsefeathers Superpark at the Planai better than the local pro snowboarder Vanessa Waldenhofer. In her chosen hometown Schladming, she spends every minute on practicing for contests such as the Austrian Volcom Peanut Butter Railjam where she won the category for “best girl” in the last two years. In the following interview, she reveals why the Horsefeathers Superpark is especially appealing to girls.
What does the Horsefeathers Superpark Planai offer others don’t?
A terrain park like the Horsefeathers Superpark is simply better in its construction because everything can be planned in advance. As a matter of fact, the take-offs and landings are always well adjusted and compatible and, not to forget, the season can be opened much earlier since the preformed terrain structures demand less amounts of snow.
Usually, much fewer girls than guys are seen in the parks. Is this also true for the Horsefeathers Superpark Planai?
Well, girls are in general not as daring as guys are and many feel uncomfortable in view of the giant obstacles of snow parks. In the Horsefeathers Superpark Planai, however, there are suitable obstacles for all skill levels. On the smaller jibs, rails and kickers one can gradually approach the first tricks before going for the larger lines. Last winter, I’ve observed some girls who at first were only trying some 50-50s on the rails but turned into real ‘jib machines’ towards the end of the season! This winter I expect even more girls to come, as both the beginner- as well as the intermediate area have been extended with new rails and boxes.
Which obstacles in the Horsefeathers Superpark Planai are especially appealing to girls who make their first steps in the park?
A lot of my girlfriends who just recently started off in the park are sticking with the beginner jib line or the smaller kickers. These lines are just perfect for making progress and practicing first tricks such as boardslides or 360s. You can also find me there from time to time, as the small obstacles are perfect for the warm-up and are a lot of fun when the weather is bad or the motivation is down.
This summer the park has been completely reworked, extended and armed with new obstacles. What are you most looking forward to?
I was there in summer to view the site and I was fascinated by the enormous dimension of the terrain works. This winter will definitely rock! Personally I fancy the numerous new advanced obstacles – more rails, bigger jibs and a massive kicker line are an absolute enrichment for the local pros and will increase the riding level in the park.
To what extent has the foundation of the Horsefeathers Superpark Planai influenced the snowboard scene of Schladming and its surrounding region?
Besides the Atomic Superpark Dachstein which is open in summer and autumn, there weren’t a lot of good parks in the area. We had to take on tiring journeys by car to snow parks far away, what especially was a stumble stone for the up- and coming rookies. Now I can step out the door and in 15 minutes I’ll be riding in the park. I know this sounds a little luxurious, doesn’t it?
Did you already have the chance to check out the other QParks as well?
Yeah, I’ve been going to the Atomic Super Park on the Dachstein for years and have ever since been excited by its structure and the condition of the park. I’ve also visited the QParks at the Hochkar and in Gastein and I’ve never been disappointed by the set-up. The label QParks simply stands for first-class quality at both the construction and the maintenance of the parks.
Which advise can you give to young girls who stand at the beginning of their careers?
Have fun! At the end of the day you should ride down with a broad smile on your face! Otherwise the coolest tricks and the most successful contests will be worth nothing…
Scheduled for Nov 20th 09 – April 18th 2010, 8.00 am – 6.00 pm
One Day Adults: 41,- euros
Adolescents (1991-1993): 33,50 euros
Beginner – 5 Kicker-line 2-5m (6,56’- 16,4’)
Medium – 2*2 Kicker-line with 2 takeoffs each 5-12m (16,4’ – 39’)
Advanced – 3er Kicker-line with 2 takeoffs each 12-17m (39’ – 55,7’)
Rails: 11m Down Rail
Beginner – 2 3*0,8m Butterboxes, 6m (20’) Rainbow, 6m (20’) Up/Down, 6m (20’) Rainbow Flat
Medium/Advanced – 9m (30’) Curved Box, 2 Butterboxes 1,5m width, 8m (26,2’) Straight Box , Kink Box, Double Kink Box, 3 Picnictables, A-Frame Box
New in 09/10: 6*0,8m Rainbow Box, 6*0,8m (2,6’) Up Down, 2 Butterboxes, 3*0,4m Kids Rainbow, 3*0,4m Up Down Box, Double Kink Rail 12m (39’), Wallride, Shrek, Mush, Pyramid