In mid February, Sully and I headed over to Europe to eat schnitzel and ride with some shops from Austria, Germany and France.
The day we landed, Ulli and Max picked us up and we drove a little out of the way to check out Backyard Austria in the Zillertal and to say a quick what’s up to the riders and crew filming the February film for 12 Months. Backyard Austria is a lodge that is the passion of an Austrian and American who have renovated an old farmhouse where an old man and his donkey had been living for a few years and turned it into a low-key spot for snowboarders to ride a bunch of resorts and amazing backcountry. Such a cool place. Unfortunately we only got to check it out and not stay and ride with the crew.
The first real stop of the trip was Zell am See in Austria where we did a two-day shop event at Schmitten with a bunch of riders from Austria and Southern Germany. Thanks to Peter from La Resistance for hosting us in his town, taking us rodlering, and avoiding a rum-induced international fight on the first night. We had a great crew of people from La Resistance, Boarders Project, Blue Tomato Munich, 58 Snowboardshop, Olympic Sports, Sport Schwab, and Sport Pemsel. To go with the great crew, the riding was pretty damn epic. The highlights from the Austrian leg of the trip were:
- Ripping the 2,500-foot powder line under the Schmitten tram that only we were riding for a day and a half—an open pow field, rolling trees and the massive pillow field. It kept giving and giving. So much fun.
- The opening night dinner up at the farm house that we got to in the back of a tractor wagon. Great roasted pork, knudel and Austrian beer. Then, before the 2 mile rodler (personal wooden luge) ride back to the car, we sampled the inner tube-to-body jar against a catch fence and watched some violent 30 mph slams that amazingly didn’t result in concussions or broken ribs. To wrap it up, we each hopped on our rodler sled and raced high-speed back to the cars for a couple miles.
- The pillow field—so much fun it’s worth two mentions. A field of stumps for about 600 vertical feet that was super steep, deep, and only ridden by our crew. Best riding of the year so far.
- Our private strap-in spot through the utility door out to the spot in front of the restaurant windows was so fun until they shut us down.
- Playing guitar and harmonica late-night in the hotel restaurant.
- Kolja, our South German rep, cooking gourmet bbq pork loin and sausage for us right in front of the tram station.
With a two-day powder hangover, we loaded up the car around 5:00 on the second day and headed out for an 8-hour drive to Annecy, France to hook up with the V7 crew (super bummer that Charles was having back surgery and couldn’t shred with us). On the first night in town, we met up for dinner with our two former French reps, JC from Addicted in Lyon and Mike from the Vans store. With the massive amounts of snow France has had this year, it was great to hear Mike’s tales of powder and his newly discovered love for sketchy lines in Chamonix.
The next day we headed to Morzine to ride Avoriaz with JP, the owner of Slopestyle. JP has been in Morzine for over a decade and showed us all around the mountain searching for scraps of pow and fun hits. It has snowed a massive amount in France this year, but we were about 5 days too late from the latest storm. But it was still super fun riding with JP and trying to follow him off all the side hits into school vacation traffic. It would have been sick to get it all on a fresh day.
After Avoriaz, we completed our 2,000 mile round-trip of the Alps by hauling ass through northern Italy to check into our factory in Austria. Then it was back to the Munich Rome office and our favorite Bavarian restaurant to cap off a great trip.