Word & photos: Tomek Gola | fikcja.pl
Vorarlberg is the westernmost and wealthiest state of Austria.
Though it is the second smallest in terms of area (Vienna is the smallest),
it borders three countries; Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
As there are several notable mountain ranges in Vorarlberg, such as the Silvretta, the Arlberg, etc,
there are many famous ski regions and ski resorts.
One of them, Damuls, is also famous for being the municipality with the most annual snowfall per year worldwide (9.30 meters on average).
The highest mountain is Piz Buin, whose rocky peak of 3,312 meters is surrounded by glaciers.
This is the place we had been touring around for the last nine days. A marketing company - QParks - YoungMountain.com - is responsible for running several
of the biggest snowparks in the Austrian Alps (Silvretta, Dachstein, etc). They prepared a special media package where they invited teams of riders and press people to
spend nine days in three different ski resorts. The first one we checked out was Silvretta Montafon, famous in the freestyle world for its NovaPark - rated as one of the
best snowparks in Austria.
Thursday evening we landed in Schruns, where the QParks company owns a large cabin that was used to host the invited crew. They call it the Media-House. A perfect base to check out the area. Early in the morning
we hit the NovaPark. The snowpark has a really picturesque location.
Jasiek Krzysztof checking out the kicker at NovaPark
And the riders cannot complain about the lack of spectators.
Szczepan Karpiel cheered by some really good looking fans
Tomek Pazdzior flying high over the mountains
Our crew - sent by the polish freestyle mag - HiverMag - was made up of six people.
Three riders, including some of the best Polish freeskiers, Szczepan Karpiel, Jasiek Krzysztof and a very young blood, Tomek Pazdzior.
Two cameramen, one of them Kostek Strzelski, who barely made it through after last year's avalanche experience in the Caucasus mountains, and after spending
six months in a horizontal position, is now back and very committed
to creating the best Polish freeskiing movie imaginable. Along with co-running HiverMag, Kostek also judges
all of the most important freeskiing events in Poland and is one of the most liked freeskiing coaches. Tomek Jedrysko, young, bright, and hard to put-up with but full of clever
ideas, was the second cameraman, and lastly, me, who was trying to capture the essence of all those people's hard work.
The Vorarlberg region is a place worth visiting for its folk ambience.
There are many local specialties to find on every corner.
But the real hassle was to find the right bottle of wine for the dinner. Fortunately Kostek was the one to handle it.
In the evenings we chilled with our Czech freeski friends who were on the same kind of trip by QParks, appreciating the view from the backyard of the Media-House.
As the season comes to an end and the snow was not in the best condition, so we didn't spend too much time looking for bc opportunities. But one feature, very near the snowpark, got our
attention. And Tomek Pazdz nailed a nice cork 7 over the rock-in-a-hole.
It was time to move. The next stop, Diedamskopf. We heard a lot of stories about that place. Especially about one feature in the park. But when we saw it in
the morning of the fourth day of our trip, it was far more than what we had imagined. The location of the park is just astonishing.
And the extra-feature, the huge kicker with an immense gap, created and opened only for professional photoshoots impressed us even more!
"There is only one thing, guys," said Nick Johnson, the New Zealander who runs the park, "we will let you hit the kicker only after the closing hours,
for safety reasons. There were some amateur riders wanting to hit it, and it's just to risky for us to allow them do it.
But we will organize a sled for you and you will be able to ride until sunset. You will have four hours of time."
Needless to say, this did not really bother us. Sunset photoshoot on this creature, perfect!
During my first run into the park and I found out just what Nick meant about the safety reasons and amateur riders in the park.
The day was brilliant, blue sky with picturesque clouds, comfy chill-out zone, not too many people...
And Szczepan Karpiel going restlessly up and down, training on rails and boxes.
After a while and having hit them any way he could, he decided to jump over his most-loved drink.
Eventually the moment that we all anticipated came... The snowpark, the kicker, actually the whole mountain, was in our control.
Jasiek Krzysztof went so big on one of his tricks, that when landed he broke both of his skis.
"Usually Nick doesn't allow the snowcat to stand in the gap while the riders are hitting the kicker," said one of the shapers. "He things it's too dangerous. But
he is not around now, so use the chance." And so Szczepan did.
Wow, it was tricky to have that machine stand there in the gap. It did feel scary," said Szczepan after stomping his run over the snowcat. "But
the kicker is just perfect, one of the best ones I've ever jumped on." We couldn't resist. The next day in the morning we asked Nick to open the kicker for us
for a couple of hours only.
Szczepan's closing run. The last run this kicker experienced.
It was hard for Nick to get us off the kicker. But there were some snowboarders who lied they had spoken to Nick and were allowed to hit it. One of them barely made it
over. The kicker had to be closed for the rest of the day. We could have come for the sunset shoot, but the riders were exhausted.
We went down to the valley for some chill time and decided we would come back for more of the Big Bertha the next afternoon.
But somehow it often happens that things don't go as planned... Early in the morning Szczepan was skiing down to the snowpark when he caught an edge of the ski on
The collarbone didn't make it. In the afternoon, after having taken Szczepan to hospital, we went back to the snowpark. But it was too windy for Tomek and Jasiek
to hit the kicker. So we decided to move to our third and final stop.
Just 20km from Diedamskopf was our last stop, Warth. What a place! A village set high up in the mountains. The whole place looks as if it was created especially
for bc. Immense opportunities for bc kickers. The shape of the land resembles a huge natural snowpark.
But, as said before, with the season coming to an end, the snow was not that good anymore, and the snowpark was just a memory. We spent the three days in Warth freestyling.
Not neccessarilly on skis...but we will be back there next season for sure!