Words & photos: Tomek Gola (fikcja.pl)
The Newschool Picknick—even though the name of this Austrian freeskiing
event doesn't sound so serious, the table is always long enough to fit all the incredible talent that shows up here. This year, only invited riders could appreciate the menu. On Friday, March 16, the Picknick took place for the
second time in its history. Initially it was to be held in Zauchensee, last year's venue where Tim Russel ran over the competitors by smoothly
driving a two-engine cork truck backwards. This year, as you probably already know, the winter hadn't been that good to us here in Europe (I write "hadn't been" as I'm in
Engelberg at this very moment, and during the last day half a meter of
snow has dropped from the sky!). There was no snow in Zauchensee, so
the organizers decided to change the spot for Dachstein—a 2996m
glacier, where there was sure to be enough building material for the
long table and other of the Picknick's main dishes.
8.30am. I enter the cablecar with other riders. Their hunger for the
feast is contagious, and as soon as I walk out on the top, I unconsciously
search for the picnic table.
The banquet is just being prepared, but its size meets my expectations. And I guess not only mine.
After my anxiety and taste-sense are satisfied, I realize where I
actually am. Dachstein! The top of the world! Or at least the top of
the area. The view there...
...takes not only my breath away...
Mike Wilson seems hypnotized with the view as well. Jon, after catching
a breath, takes his camera out and shoots everything. He is so amazed
with the landscape he quietly curses to himself.
But the cuss words don't get by Jacob's attention, and soon Jon loses
his breath again doing a series of push-ups: "For each cuss word we've
agreed to do ten push-ups. I've done 160 today so far." By the time the
competition started, he'd done 230.
And so the warm-up begins.
Marek Doniec takes off to hit the picnic for the first time. He makes
it over the table, but some riders aren't that fortunate.
Even though they spin super-stylish tricks, like Russ Henshaw above
with smooth switch 7 octograb, they don't make it over the table... and
it is not because they misjudge the speed. The whole day the
competition is accompanied by strong...
...unpredictable wind that blows in all different directions. Flo Wieser above defeats the wind with a slowmotion 3 truckdriver.
And so does Jacob Wester. But...
Charley Ager gets pushed by the wind almost to the end of the landing! Speaking of which...
Charley is the first to jump in the quali-round. He executes a massive
540 guitar to high-mute grab. The power in his jumps on the Picknick
astonishes many! Most of the time he flies to the end of the landing
and stands perfectly.
By the way, guitar grabs seem to be in fashion for the moment.
Russ Henshaw with corked 5 guitar – this time landed no problem.
Tim Rieder with a cork 7 tail flies over the impressive landscape.
And here the oldschool representative from Sweden - Eric Strand with the biggest 360 jeans-shifty I've seen in my life!
Meanwhile Jon spins flat over the Dachstein glacier.
Marek Doniec with switch 7 safety – one of the highest and furthest jumps in the quali sessions.
JF Houle with switch 7 mute is one of the last to jump during the
quali-session. The riders go for a rest. And sit at a real picnic table
to have a sip of golden energy, but...
...Craig Coker seems to have mistaken the tables he
was supposd to be jumping over, lands on the table, spills all the drinks,
almost cuts a few hands and knocks a few teeth out! In such atmosphere we get to the middle of the day.
Meanwhile the judges—Stefan Hoerist, Christoph Thaler, Tobias Hammer
and the winner of the last years' Picknick, Tim Russel (who broke his
hand in the pipe a week before; his hand looked like a purple box-glove,
and so he couldn't take part in the comps)...
...make up their mind who should be among the 20 finalists.
The Main Course
And so the show reaches its climax. Each rider has three runs in a unique format: one run will be judged on style, the other on difficulty, and the third one is the rider's choice. And here are a few final runs:
Jacob Wester, kangaroo flip – one of the first to fly into the finals.
Aurelien Fornier with cork 7 tail.
And his countryman Richard Permin with a stylish octograb while spinning switch 7.
The wind still messes up a few riders' runs, either by pushing them too
far or pulling them onto the knuckle. So Nico Zacek finishes his
finals after only one run, launching it to the very end of the
landing. After an explosive impact, he gets
himself to the side of, lays down, waves he is okay—and stays there for a while. All in all, the finalists show some high-level tricks.
The first place seems to be obvious, but the rest—the tricks are
so stylish and difficult—is a really hard task for the judges. We have to wait
until evening to find out the names. But since the evening is already a
faint memory at the time I write the article, I will reveal the secret
of the picnic table right now.
Patrick Hollaus! Above, in his first jump in the finals—a jump for style—this switch rodeo 5 double nose sets him among the best riders right away.
And in this run—all about difficulty—he does something I saw for
the first time. switch cork 7 mute, but instead of
pulling the ski to him, he... pulls his whole body to the ski! Sick!
And thus he makes second place! Wait, but what about the third? There is no third! Martin
Misof with a perfect switch 1080 opposite high mute gets second as
And the winner is...
the perfect kangaroo executed by its father-founder. Smoooooth... Jon Olsson's other final run, his style trick, is a slow flat 540 double
9pm the same day.
People gather in Altenmarkt's swimming pool where the prize-giving
ceremony is to take place. On the edge of the pool, a black Suzuki Jimny stands, waiting for its new owner. People gather around and wait for the
announcement of this year's Picknick winners. You already know the
results. Jon drives back to Sweden with a brand new black Jimny, while Patrick
and Martin collect 2000 Euro each for their second-place finishes.
But this is not the end of prize-giving. Jon prepared a special prize
for the second place - the magic golden key to Jon Olsson Invitational.
Martin Misof got his key before, so he's going to JOI anyways. So the
wheel of fortune and the key to any entertainment in Åre during JOI goes to another newschooler – Patrick Hollaus.
Congrats guys, especially you Patrick, when I only think of all the doors you can open with the key... ;)
After the prize-giving... some say there was an afterparty...
And at this very moment, most of the guys are already in Laax for the Orage European Freeskiing Open. So stay tuned to what's going on on our old continent ruled by newschoolers.