As regular readers you will know, that we’re big fans of everything retro – and that’s not just since our Early Nineties issue beginning of this. So this year we simply had to check out this event that is announced as the “Woodstock of Snowboarding”. We expected love, peace and harmony, a bit of weed, good vibes, plus lots of guys with long hair and long beards. And we found – all of it!
Words by Anna Langer, photos by Miriam Weiherer
Okay not everybody at the Longboard Classics last Saturday, April 17th 2010, had long hair or beards, but we for sure got the whole dose of blazing sunshine, super chilled out people, positive vibes and a banger atmosphere. Which was almost a given, considering the ingredients of this tasty event: bring the legends of snowboarding, aka Shawn Farmer, Terry Kidwell, and Bob Klein to Stuben in the Arlberg region, add a couple of hundred of snowboard enthusiast from day one until the present and so much neon colours you get abs cramps from laughing. And cheers!
For the 11th year now, organiser Paul Gruber put this event together to celebrate the end of the season with the origins of snowboarding. So snowboard fans from all over the world dig out the oldest snowboard gear they can find, strap on their longboards, snurfers and cut-off boards to meet old friends and race each other in the infamous Chinese downhill race from the Albona Grat in Stuben. With neon green lips from original 90s zink suncream, Shawn Farmer is grinning widely, stoked about the event and everybody gathering for the mass start. When asked if he’s going to win the race, he laughs mischievously, “Of course I am!”
Although the event isn’t about winning at all. Much more it’s about who has the oldest stuff (or is the oldest snowboarder on location), the freakiest outfit (without neon you will feel as boring as never before in your life), the craziest moves and of course, has the most fun. And it is about looking, watching and marvelling. With every blink of your eye another outfit even crazier and flashier than the one before turns around the next corner. Snowboards with bindings that are no more than a bunch of strings or some plastic loops and tips sharp as spears are lined up in the snow. Guys sporting pants so tight you’re glad they’ve reached an age where the making of children is already dealt with. And people telling stories of how they bought their first snowboard one month before you were even born.
Still this is not a convention of old farts reminiscing the days of their past fame and glory. To the contrary. It’s a place where you can meet the legends of your teenager years, learn more about the origins of your favourite sport or just have a great time hanging with fun and interesting peeps. Like Lena from the Allgäu in Southern Germany, who came here with a bunch of friends. “After I heard all their stories from last year and how much fun they had, I wanted to be part of this as well”, she tells us, chilling out on a Nitro L shape chair, that is way more comfy than it looks. She’s sweet 17 years old. Behind her a guy hobbles in to the event area on the foot of the hill on crutches, aiming straight for Farmer and throwshis digi cam at us: “Can you please take a picture of me with him?” he asks and then tells Farmer his story. “You’re my hero Shawn. I came all the way to Stuben from Finland for one day just to get the chance to ride with you. But then I tore my ACL last week…”, harvesting sympathy and compassion from all bystanders.
After a day of hanging in the sun, drinking beer, eating delish hot dogs and rocking to four songs Kidwell, Klein and Farmer perform as the LBC Allstars, all the neon dudes and normal people head to the big tent for the movie night. Which of course isn’t just any movie night showing any snowboard movies but the very first of all snowboard footage ever done. Including the likes of Jake Burton and Tom Sims battling each other in a slalom contest of about 10 meters length and practically no decline at all, and Régis Rolland being chased from France to Switzerland by evil monoskiers in the legendary Apocalypse Snow.
The night ends rather smoothly and mellow with a bit of dancing but minus the typical mayhem and freak outs you’re used to from snowboard parties. But to be fair, the majority was on the farther side of their Thirties and taking that into account, the party still rocked.
So we leave the Arlberg valley slightly blind from all the eye cancer inducing neon, tired and sore from all the laughing and already looking forward to the beginning of next season, to contribute to the history of snowboarding as well. Because in the end no matter what decade, what style or what area of snowboarding you’re into, it all comes down to one: keep on riding.