FWQ 1* Open Faces Weißseegletscher 2014 – freeride paradise

Time for a local contest! The Weißsee glacier is a private freeriders paradise here in Pinzgau Austria. It was only a 1 star FWQ event (meaning the result wouldn’t help my ranking at all this year) but what a beautiful mountain. I rode up on Friday to have a face check, not actually knowing which aspect would be used in the competition. At the Rudolfshut I found out that we would have to hike an hour or two to reach the face which looked simply gnarly. There were pretty massive rock cliffs dividing the sections of the steep face. Although the face was intimidating, I didn’t feel much pressure because the results wouldn’t affect my ranking anyway. I would be able to have a pressure-free run. By the end of Friday however, the organization decided to change the venue due to lack of snow. I was somewhat relieved to not have to hike 2 hours to the start, nor face the possibility of taking a wrong turn and launching over a massive cliff. I took a few runs up a 2-seater chairlift to view the new face from different angles. The top section would be very straight forward but the bottom part offered a variety of different routes to choose from. Always trying to find an original line, I was drawn to a section of tight little chutes at the bottom towards the viewers left. The snow wasn’t in great shape thanks to some nasty wind we had had in our region pretty much the whole season. I hoped that the line I was looking at might be a little protected, maybe even offering some good snow. I let 2 riders, Felix and Armin, stay at my place on Friday night. Before returning home, however, we checked out the new sauna at the Rudolfshut which offered a magnificent view of the steep faces. It was quite a treat to have that view directly from the sauna bench! Once we arrived back at my house, we ended up playing a few rounds of Xbox before checking our lines on the computer and heading to bed.
Super early in the morning, I crawled out of bed and headed straight over to Weißsee with the guys. We took the long gondola ride up to the Rudolfshut where we had the riders meeting and some breakfast. The day was shaping up to be a dream with bluebird sky and sunny conditions. It started warming up and the spectators area filled up with riders and visitors. The music was pumping and the atmosphere was just rocking. We had some amazing binoculars to test at a stand and had some great views of the face. The womens snowboard category was scheduled last so I had plenty of time to enjoy the scene as well as watch some friends take their runs. It was a whole new feeling being there without the nervous anticipation of competition. I had a blast waiting for my turn. Towards the end of the contest, it was time for me to head to the start. After taking the 2-seater there was a short hike up the ridge to the start. Being one of the last riders, there was a solid boot track to hike in making it less strenuous. The heat of the day, however, made itself very noticeable. The snow was a bit soft and sticky as the top layers had melted a bit. I could see some possible small drops right near the start while hiking up. The snow had been heavily chewed up from all the previous contestants and I hoped to find something soft. At the starting line, I felt excited but lacked the typical anxiety of competition. I wanted to have fun and that was it. I waited the countdown and started off along the tracks I had just hiked up towards the small drops to the right of the gate. The snow was very hard and bumpy; I hit my first rock about 2 meters from the starting gate. The section was steep enough that it wasn’t particularly easy to see the take offs. Impatiently, I managed to turn down too early, missing the section I had hoped for originally. My board was bouncing around, shaking me with it and I only managed to find a small bump following an ugly heel-side approach. I didn’t have any airtime and landed in the bumpy snow beginning the arduous traverse along the face. It was surely a disadvantage being a regular foot rider on this venue because a heel-side traverse never ever looks good. I hoped to hit a flattish looking rock in the middle of the open field but couldn’t recognize the take-off with all the tracks zigzagging around. I noticed the jump I was looking peripherally, but I had gone too far to hit it so just focused on finding the best looking snow. I did get a mini-shifty off a bump in the field on the way down at least. I focused on the entrance to the next section which would be more critical if I messed up. My line choice took me to a section of the mountain with essentially no tracks in it. That’s how I like it! I slowed down to spot a small rock jump to access the viewers left of the face, the landing went smoothly which gave me some confidence. I found the top of the small chute I wanted to take but the snow was treacherous there. Hard pressed crusty, wind-affected with peppers of rock shooting out all over. I glanced down my intended line but threw the plan out the window once I saw a solid ice patch leading to an exposed rock at the top section. It just wasn’t worth destroying my board. I quickly found a different exit and tried to speed back up after the rocky section was past. I found another roller which ended up booting me further than expected, leading to some sexy flailing arms. The Italians call that rolling down the windows. Already essentially down the mountain, I still had to cross over a very sharky rock section towards the finish line. There was an ity-bity windlip in front of the finish line that I tried to method over but didn’t really have enough speed in that flattish section. That was it. I stayed on my feet which was cool considering how tracked out and sharky the face ended up being. I missed a few features but also found a couple spontaneously during the run. All in all I landed 3rd in the comp but the best part of it all was that I won the Style Queen award! That was so much better than winning the comp because it included a 100€ check whereas winning the comp gets you nothing! I was shocked to hear my name called, I never in my life dreamed of hearing my name and anything having to do with style in the same sentence! Awesome competition, great friends and fans, 100€ check and a beautiful day: who could ask for more!


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