While the rest of the UK were packing their winter woolens and umbrellas, and tenaciously flocking to the coast for the bank holiday weekend, 160 members of the snowboarding fraternity were heading out to the (usually) sleepy village of Feichten in the Austrian Alps, for the annual Snowboard Test.
The event, run by industry stalwart and editor of The Reason magazine, Ian Sansom, brings together snowboarding brands, shops, media and pro riders to test ride and review next season’s hardware before it hits the shops for next season. As well as being an important industry event, it also provides the perfect opportunity for everyone in the UK snowboarding scene to catch up, and is widely regarded as being one of the best weeks of the season.
The action takes place on the nearby Kaunertal glacier, which boasts some awesome, varied terrain, an epic park and empty slopes and lift lines. This year we were also treated to fantastic conditions with loads of fresh snow and sunshine – pretty incredible for early May!
Representatives from brands including Burton, Salomon, Ride, K2, Rome, Capita, Union, DC, Westbeach, Vans, Thirty Two and Dragon, set up stands at the base of the mountain and this ‘village’ becomes the central hub of activity for the week while participants eagerly mill around, selecting which highly coveted board/ bindings/boots/goggles to take for a spin next, while filling out test cards to review the gear they’ve just returned.
The lovely people from Westbeach and Vans helped keep our hangovers at bay with bacon rolls and waffles each morning; hair of the dog took the form of rum hot chocolates from DC; while Analog kicked us back off the wagon again with après beers and Jägers!
Whitelines and DC hosted a rail jam which saw British riders Andy Nudds, Ollie Dutton and Matt Macwhirter, among others, go head to head. It was an impressive display which eventually saw Nuddsy claim victory by putting down an insane cab 270 on and 450 pretzel out.
Off the slopes, entertainment was largely booze fuelled and centred around the Pfiff Alm bar. On Monday night Westbeach and The Reason hosted their, now infamous, pub quiz which once again involved nudity and pint sculling, while Whitelines and DC also hosted parties of similarly epic proportions.
No matter how big the parties were though, we were all (ok, nearly all) up the mountain again early the next morning, in body and spirit (if not with the clearest of heads!) eager to put some more boards through their paces.
At the end of the week a load of well-ridden kit, a stack of completed test cards and lots of weary, but elated bodies were packed into an assortment of vehicles to reluctantly start the long journey back to the UK. Although it might have been the last mountain shred of the season for many, rather than signaling the end of the season, the Snowboard Test marks the beginning of the next, and with all the great new gear around, we’re already psyched about winter 2012/13!
We’ll be posting reviews of the best of next season’s kit over the coming months, and once it hits the shops we’ll be finding it for you for the lowest price, so watch this space…!
What are you most looking forward to about next season, or what kit are you hoping to get your hands on? Let us know by leaving a comment below…The Snowboard Test 2012,