words by Daniel Baurphotos by Ruedi FluckTemperatures are dropping and winter is getting closer. The glaciers are opening their doors for the first visitors over here in Europe. One glacier opening we should take a closer look at: The Kaunertal Opening. It took place in, as the name might indicate, Kaunertal, from the 11th till the 14th of October. With an action-packed weekend complete with freeskiing, snowboarding and partying the new season began for several winter fans.

To get to the glacier you have to drive for about 30 minutes on a small, narrow and windy road. Since the road is private and police aren't allowed to set-up radar, you need a damn fast car if you don't want to look like a sissy. People chase each other up the road, past the candles of all the guys that have killed themselves on the way, as if they where chased by regiments of killer bees. Even in tiny European cars. It's kind fun though.
As every glacier opening should have, there was a competition for freeskiers and snowboarders on Saturday. The competition had two different parts: halfpipe and slopestyle. Naming it "slopestyle" would have been a bit exaggerated tough. The course had one big tree log, one jib can, a mini kicker and one box. So that it would sound a little better they called the whole thing "mini-shred." There were different winners for several categories. Thomas Hlawitschka and Caja Schopf won the overall competition and earned themselves the title "KTO Rocker 2007." "Best Line" went to Bene Mayr, and "Best Trick in the Pipe" to Roy Kittler, which was kind of surprising since Roy is mainly known for his sick rail tricks.
Sunday was great for everyone. Photographers were located everywhere around the pipe and park. The best picture will have an appearance in the German freeski magazine "Skiing- The Next Level." So you didnt have to be a pro with great spins or height, you just had to get a great picture taken of yourself to get in a mag. Nice for all the skiers who just like to have fun in the park.
Something probably even more important than the competition is, at least in my opinion, the party. Best way to make new business connections; or other connections. The party was in the next little town after the glacier, Feichten. A huge party tent was set up, since Feichten doesn't really have a place to hold a big party. All the towns in the Kaunertal have only 600 residents, although they have 1500 guest beds, and every one of them was booked for that weekend. People even camped out or slept in their cars. It seemed like everyone between 16 and 28 in a radius of 100 miles had traveled to that one spot to get wasted and to smooch (People in Europe smooch a lot in public places if you didn't know that yet).
The three days had the motto "back on snow." For everyone who hasn't chosen their favorite ski for this season yet, there was a test-center with about 20 different ski and snowboard brands, where people had the chance to test the new gear for this winter. On board were lots of ski brands that don't have a big reputation in Europe yet. For instance Line, which is starting to hit Europe with its products, or Nordica, which debuted its twintips last winter. But some old names like Black Diamond and Scott were around, and the latter pleased people with some funky goggles from this year's production line. All in all, the three days were great to party hard, get to know new

people; sleep long and then shred the park with some pairs of rental

skis. "Don't be gentle it's a rental."