2009 Park Opening Hintertux Austria

It was that time of year again: Hintertux was opening its winter season in the park and I was on the way there. Planning on meeting up with some US guys stationed in Germany on Friday night, joined on Sunday by friends Joe, Vera and Gabor. I enjoyed the sunshine of the warm Friday evening driving along the Pinzgau main road and up and over the old mountain pass Zillerberg, into the Zillertal valley. We met up at KleinTux in Vorderlanersbach, where the Friday night party was being held. After enjoying a few drinks and some easy going hip hop sound, it was time to walk home to get some sleep for the next day.
Saturday was bright,bright, bright sunshine and much too warm. There hadn’t been any new snow to speak of, which made for hard packed slopes, partially even pure blank ice. Arriving at the top of the gondola ride up, many tent stands set up for testing the new snowboards of the season. I had my eye especially set on the Ride and Lib Tech line ups. Starting off with a 2010 Ride Crush was the right choice for sure: regardless of being a reverse camber board, it is simply playful, even on insanely icy conditions. There were several boards lined up on my to-try list, Lib Tech Skate Banana and TRS, Ride’s Society and DH2 and the Forum Scallywag to name a few. The park was in full swing with some really strong riders around attracting a good crowd: I enjoyed empty open trails to test out the different models. Nearing the end of the day the guys and I decided to head
back down to the parking lot at the bottom of the glacier to take a bag jump from a crane they had set up there. I was pretty excited and just a tad nervous to say the least! Thus far, airbags had been pretty much limit
ed to pro riders so this was a cool opportunity for us. Initially it was supposed to be up on the glacier with a kicker in front of it, but the snow conditions were too bad. I was kind of relieved though, not sure I would hit the target if I had to hit a jump first! I went up to the registration desk and filled out the consent form within a nanosecond. I looked behind me and realized that my buddies were all watching from a distance and that I stood alone in line. There were probably around 20 people in front of me already so I would have some time to check the others out to see how “bad” it looked. After waiting around an hour, the line didn’t seem to be moving much so I started checking the people around me out. There was a pretty wide variety of riders around, young and old, from all different nations, all sharing the same passion. It was a really cool atmosphere in general. My buddies were all gathered around the beer stand with a good sized crowd. They had a free chili-hotdog stand set up to celebrate a brand’s boardshape called chillydog. People were walking by checking the jumpers out, enjoying beer watching from the sidelines and then I saw a guy watching with a big smile on his face… cute, I thought. The wait went on and on… it was so very slow going. At some point the cute guy and his friends must have gotten bored of waiting because they were gone. After another decade waiting, I was finally the next in line. The basket was lowered with the electronic controls, and I was able to climb over the safety bar to get in. There was a guy in the basket with me as the one working the controls began to lift us into the air. It went up and up and up… from the bottom it didn’t look so high up, but from the top it was feeling really high. We reached the top and then were forwarded over to the middle of the bag: then it all went fast. I had to climb up over the safety bar and had my back to the bag. I saw it as a special chance to try something without risking injury… I wanted to try a back-flip but my nerves and guts ended up settling on spinning around instead… at the top of the basket with the music beating loudly from below and knowing I had no time to hesitate… I jumped a little to the side and tried to twist around as many times as I could. After falling for what felt like longer than expected, I could see the black of the airbag top sheet getting closer. At some point before the landing I remember feeling like the drop pushed the air in my lungs out… kind of like when a strong wind takes your breath away. Then I was stopped… I don’t actually remember landing on the bag… I do remember being…, absorbed… by it though… what a funny feeling! I got upright and scrambled to the edge of the bag to get off… and the real rush hit me. What a thrill that was! I was grinning from ear to ear when I met up with the guys, who were surely glad the wait was over. I felt the urge to talk and talk and talk about the feeling of jumping off it: I think I soon bored the guys with my excitement though. We walked back to the cars to dump the gear. Most of the group left for home as they were only staying one day after all, and I went back to the hotel where I was crashing on a couch, to shower, eat and get ready for the big party that night. The big party and video premiere was being held at the Tenne in Hintertux: a modern multilevel complex built in an old wooden alpine-hut style. There was a DJ playing hip hop and the night began. I had a blast hanging out with loads of people I had met that summer in Mayrhofen and by the end of the night, managed to have my jacket stolen by someone’s girlfriend. I managed to hitch a ride in the back of a full taxi with a buddy making the relatively long walk home without a jacket, manageable. I was pretty glad to finally stretch out and sleep after all the good times. Sunday morning came much too early, but I was motivated to get testing again. I somehow rolled out of bed (or off the couch as it was) and headed back to the mountain. At the top, I spent some time chatting with the guys working and checking out the boards. After a few test runs, Joe and Vera arrived. Between testing boards, drinking coffee with the reps and falling asleep in the chaise lounge out in the sunshine on the back deck of the Fernerhaus, the day was relaxed productive. It was time to just enjoy the last bit of sunshine on the deck. We stayed until the final gondola returned us to the parking lot… the end of another great weekend!

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