Last week I joined 250 other UK snowboard enthusiasts at the Spring Break snowboard test in Kaunertal, Austria, for a week of spring shredding, snowboard testing and parties.
Formerly known as The Snowboard Test, it was previously an industry event for snowboarding brands to showcase their new season gear to shops, pro riders, journalists and other industry insiders. I attended last year and it was a great event. This year, however, organiser Ian Sansom, editor of The Reason magazine, decided to open the event to the public so that they too can get their hands on next season’s new snowboards, bindings, boots and outerwear before they hit the shops later in the year. The result was a bigger and even better event than ever, which attracted every snowboarding brand imaginable and a collective of the UK’s best riders, not to mention an appearance from the legendary Gigi Rüf!
The main hub of activity was the test centre at the mountain base where excited riders got hooked up with one awesome board after another. Surrounded by stands brimming with all the latest snowboarding gear just waiting to be picked up and taken for a ride, never has the saying “like a kid in a sweet shop” resonated so strongly. Stoke levels were even higher on the mountain as we put them through their paces on the super fun slopes of the Kaunertal glacier.
Testing sessions were interspersed with some great on-mountain events where the crème de la crème of UK shredding showed us how it’s really done. Whitelines hosted their annual rail jam which saw the likes of Andy Nudds, Ollie Dutton and Will Smith go head to head on a massive stairset feature in the Kaunertal snowpark. Dragon Alliance also put on a Methodical Madness competition where the usual suspects battled it out to pull the best method off a sweet hip, and The Reason Mag and Monster ran a big air comp which saw some impressive tricks being stomped in front of, and at times into, a reverent crowd.
Off the slopes, parties were plentiful and largely centered around the Pfiffalm Bar in the village. Sunday night was the Whitelines party, which featured an impromptu guest appearance from DJ JB John who went down a storm. Tuesday night was another big one which kicked off with the Analog après party up the mountain. Back in the village the awesome guys from Westbeach got the barbecue going and fed us all before we headed inside for the Monster party, which went off when stoner rock band, Steak, took to the stage.
On a personal level, it was great for me to get back on the proverbial horse, or actual board, after my injury earlier in the season. Although I’d had a day at Glenshee a few weeks earlier, I’d taken it easy to make sure I didn’t fall. For some reason I felt much more anxious than I had after a much worse break to my ankle a few years ago, but I think that’s because it’s only just mended. That, and the realisation that I break much more easily these days has finally begun to sink in!
Still a bit tentative with the grab!
After a tentative start in Kaunertal, I soon lost the fear and began to let go. My biggest worry had been getting back to riding switch and risking falling on my arm in the same way I did when I broke it, but I took the plunge and the fear subsided. Riding switch led to 180s and I did eventually fall on my arm, but although it hurt a bit, it was fine and I got up and rode off, happy that I’d managed to overcome that mental barrier!
It’s always sad when the season draws to a close, but I can’t think of a better way to have ended it than getting stoked for next season with a load of people who share your passion. It definitely lived up to its Twitter hashtag of #bestweekoftheyear. By the end of the week I was a little weary from intensive board testing and partying, but elated from an awesome few days testing out some sweet new gear, catching up with some great people, and achieving my own little goal of getting back on the board before the end of the season. Roll on winter 2013/14!
But until then, I’m rolling out the bike…
To find out more about what went down at Spring Break check out my review for Snowboarding Deals UK.
I’ll also be writing reviews on all the gear we tested for Snowboarding Deals UK over the coming weeks, so keep an eye on the site for those, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
For more photos head to the Riding Switch Facebook page.