The first opening of the year always comes a bit out of the blue - and that's not because it's usually graced with finest bluebird skies.
Words & photos by Anna Langer
With sand from the last summer holiday still between our toes, our feet are struggling to be squashed into tight snowboard boots again after months of barefoot freedom, and the parking lot scene filled with peeps in bright colours still looks a bit out of place between green trees and brownish meadows. And arriving on top to be greeted by far more rocks and gravel than snow and ice doesn't really help either.
But once you hear the crystals break under your boots once you reach the slope and try to fiddle the boot into the binding, the muscles remember how to hold the balance for strapping in standing up and the corners of the mouth start moving upwards towards the clear blue sky. And once the board starts sliding, the body joins, happily swinging from side to side as we ride turn after turn. After the first run, a huge smile has spread from ear to ear, ignoring the ice slope, the huge lift queue or the sun burning your nose.
And despite what you may think reading this from your dull computer screen, it's not just us - it is the mountains, as the expressions, smiles and comments of every visitor of the hotzone.tv Park Opening in Hintertux last weekend affirmed.
Although it had already dumped 120 cm of fresh in August, the infamous Oktoberfest-weather-high had all the white gold melted again by the start of October, so that there was only a tiny sprinkle of white left last weekend. Thanks to the glacier there was still enough base there to shape up a fully blown park tho, that was torn to pieces by the annual "Session of the Dudes" as well as the public, that seemed to be worsely starved for snow like than any other year before. Hence the queue for the park lift reached ridiculous proportions, that gave most of the pro riders a perfect excuse to hang out in the test area, reunite with everyone and swap summer stories.
"It's just so amazing to see everyone again, snowboard family reunion" was Aimee Fuller's take for the weekend - privileged to stay for the whole week the best decision we could imagine, since banana BBQ, live DJ sets and a bag jump in the valley made the hanging and chilling out part very worth while.
For those with ants in their pants and shred eager legs, Arbor, Rome, K2, Ride, Lib Tech, Gnu, Roxy, Salomon, DC, Nitro, Bataleon, Lobster, Burton, Capita and Union had their latest collection ready to be put to the test - which was a proper hardcore one under these conditions but perfect to see what you'll get with a certain board, binding or boot.
Since we had ants in our pants too, we took more to the testing than the chilling and hence let the party train go by to dream of the new season, so you'll have to look for nightlife reports somewhere else but make sure to check back soon for some more board reviews online (extending the Testing Times article from the current print mag).
Thank you Hintertux for another great start to the season! Can't wait to come back for more...