FWQ 3* Open Faces Axamer Lizum 2014

Axamer Lizum was scheduled to be my  first contest of the season… back in January! Due to the really bad snow situation here in Austria, it was postponed to February 15th. I drove over to Axams (near Innsbruck) on Friday nice and easy to check the face. I arrived in the sunny weather parked right next to another racer, Sebastian. We found a few other riders checking the face with binoculars. The venue changed this year, looked more fun although there weren’t loads of features I would be able to hit on it. I figured I would just chose a line when I got to the top of the hike as the face didnt have challenging orientation. At the Sonnalm, the viewers area for the Open contest earlier that day, lots of familiar FWQ riders were hanging out. Loads of riders from the contest family: the Italian delegation, the Swedes, Finns and of course the Austrians, were all present. I met up with 2 friends from my former hockey days in Bavaria. We wanted to take a few runs together but carving down the fast icy bumpy trail I felt my boot loosen. I just broke my binding ankle strap off and was essentially one-footing the carving turn… a nanosecond later I was on my hip, butt, back, shoulder, arm and several other body parts that in the course of losing control, kissed the ice. OUCH! Shit! I looked down at my binding and saw the ankle strap flopping around broken off. I was able to scrape one footed down the rest of the slope to the car where I had another board. I snag the new one and realize that the binding chassis on the new bindings were missing a screw. Again. Brand new bindings and the stupid chassis will not stay in place… Ive never seen a problem like this before and really quite irritated that the bindings have been nothing but a problem since I bought them. I took them to the repair shop (this is now what, the 4th time I have had to get the screws tightened, WITH lock-tite even!!) I cant even figure out how the screw is being loosened as its literally a joint in the chassis that has NO movement… whatever. The Augsburgers continued on as I was hung up in the shop for a good half an hour. I rode back up to do a nice calm last facecheck before the mountain closed down for the day. Some sections of the face looked really steep until I rode to the bottom of the face on the side of the trail and looked up again… it really didn’t look steep at all actually. Im thinking straight line…. Other gullies looked really cool but it wasn’t possible to see inside them all to see if there were any exits or if they forced a cliff drop at the bottom. I decided to just decide tomorrow and headed down the trail to catch up with the Augsburgers before the riders meeting started.
Riders Meeting was pretty straight forward as usual… only one change of plan to the standard, women did not have to start the competition for a change, we would be last. I was stoked to NOT be having to race early in the morning as my body doesn’t do sports in the mornings!
Way too early the next morning, the weather was beautiful meaning good visibility. In no time flat they had the music going and we could face check from a good vantage point. I watched several of the runs before I had to get to hiking up myself. They looked a bit less solid than I am used to seeing… maybe an indication that the conditions were not the easiest in the face. As I started my hike up for my run, I could really see why the guys were fighting the face… it was essentially rock hard, tracked out and BUMPY. Oh man, forget straight lining anything here! I would be stoked if I was able to ride reasonably fast at all on this! The first few women dropped in and I got an up-close look at just how rough this was going to be. I decided to not bother with hiking to the left side of the face which looked most interesting… I figured there would be an unsexy backside traverse involved so I said forget it and took the gully most of the women took.I decided I would try to jump the windlip at least.
It was my turn to drop in, ready to try to ride fast, the countdown started… 3…2…1… drop: I took off on the rugged windblown icy face… screw going fast, that was NOT going to happen… I regretted the untuned edges and soft duct-taped boots. I saw a nice icy kind of wall on the right side and tried an alley-oop which turned out much smaller than I had hoped but felt clean. I headed down the rest of the bumpy mess towards the windlip which I wanted to at least grab off. The take off approach was so choppy and sharky that I lost balance off the lip resulting in a fugly jump. Arms-a-flappin I somehow landed on my feet. It turned out much bigger than I expected on top of things, a few factors kind of played a role there. A few carving turns left the rest of the face above and I crossed the finish line. I was not particularly stoked about my run although I didn’t have the feeling that it was slow . I watched the rest take their runs and realized that the snow in the original line I wanted, looked 10 times compared to where most of us rode in the end… we were told the opposite at the meeting… arrrgh…. One of the big drawbacks to this style of competition… hindsight!! In the end I landed 6th place: next stop will be St. Luc Chandolin in Switzerland, a new opportunity to gather some valuable points in the seeding list!


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