Hohenems FIS race and the team gets its first silverware of the season!

Next race of the season was in some backend of nowhere place in Austria called Hohenems. None of us had ever really heard of the place so didn’t really know what to expect. We had heard a quick course description and knew that the start section had two wu-tangs so we spent the few days before the competition on the Les Gets track just hiking the start section there, which has one.  We had had a good few days of snow before this in Morzine so it was hard to drag ourseleves away from the steep and deep and spend a morning hiking a 40 meter section of a track.

We headed off early on Friday morning in the Battle Wagon and Simon’s scooby all the way through Switzerland and it probably took us about 6 hours. We’d heard in the news how cold it had been further east and how many people had died in the cold snap so the last thing we wanted to do was head east! There was snow the whole way pretty much and we just watched the thermometer in the van drop lower and lower. When we arrived in the town we were staying at near the mountain it was at -12C. Forecast for up the hill the next day was -23C!

We were staying at a place called Harry’s Home in Dornbirn which was actually really cool. Made for a nice change to stay in a proper hotel for once even if the rooms made you feel like you were on boat. But was definitely nice to come back and have your bed made for you everyday! Also experienced my first Kebab and I think it might actually of been quite healthy….

Went out for a wonder around town and so those of us that didn’t have at least two pairs of thermals to layer up could stock up on them. This is the first time most of us had been to a proper town like town in few months and the first thing most of us noticed were the lasses! They are few and far between on Morzine/Manzine and a certain someone (you know who your are) was like a kid in a sweet shop! The other thing that we couldn’t help but notice was all the random information signs. Check out this one, and yes it is a real word up top! Will let you guys annotate what you think each picture means…..

Got up and left for the hill at 8am the next day. We had heard rumours about how gnarly the road up the hill was as the Argentineans hadn’t managed to get their van up the hill the day before. As we approached the road we saw signs saying 20% incline but we knew this would be no problem for the battlewagon! To be honest the road was nothing compared to the mountain roads in New Zealand but was pretty sketchy in places.

When we arrived at the hill it was literally just a small building at the bottom of the slope with a T-Bar linked up to another separate T-Bar further up. Their website apparently boasts 10 pistes although I think they must have been counting every tiny connecting cat tracks as a pistes. The freeride potential though looked sick! So many trees and cliffs dotted about and it didn’t look like anyone had really been riding any of it! What few off piste lines that had been taken usually had 5 other lines right next to them so that people got the most out of the potential fresh tracks.

When we got up to the track it looked tiny compared to other tracks we have been racing on so far this season. Easier you might be thinking but not always the case. The first two wu-tangs, which we had read about, were tiny. We would find out this meant you had to speed check before them otherwise you would be landing to flat and then have no speed at all so it was hard to do the track fast.

Here is a quick track run through…

  • Out the gate
  • Wu-tang
  • Wu-tang
  • Set of 3 rollers, all pumps and no doubles
  • Straight glide into right hander
  • Two rollers, first one was quite vicious
  • Left hander
  • Right hander which you could cut straight into next section
  • Set of three rollers
  • Left hander
  • Glide into 2 big rollers, which were two big to double, and the second one would send a good few people flying over the weekend.
  • Glide into step down which would also cause a few incidents over the weekend.
  • Finish

Once we started practice there were safety concerns that the second wu-tang was far to whippy and catching the transition on the otherside was very tricky.  This resulted in the organisers stopping practice and getting the cat up to adjust the feature.

You might of thought we’d all be pretty annoyed about practice stopping but it meant we could go shred some pow, carve a bit and take a few photos.


Cheers Myles for the photo!

Once the training got back underway time for a couple extra practice runs. Jimbo was really starting to feel the cold by this time as he’d been sitting in the shade for a good 2 hours.

Managed to get a kind of clean run when it came to qualifying on first day but my head wasn’t really in it and was a bit hesitant into some of the features. Ended up finishing 46th that day but was happy I managed to stay on my board. I good few people got caught out all over the place so I managed to take some good out of that day despite not qualifying.

After the race we went and did a short 15 min hike to get few more pow shots.

Cheers Kyle for the photo!

We went home that night, waxed up and went to bed pretty early. Trying to stay warm in -23C take a butt tone more energy than you might think.

Day two the weather had warmed up a bit, which we were all stoked about! It was now only -22C so felt tropical.  Racing got underway pretty quick and managed to get in two practice runs I felt happy with. When it came to my qualifying run though I came over the first wu-tang a little twisted which made me land at about 60% loosing my valuable speed through the section I where I needed to carry as much as possible.  The middle section I was pretty solid however I came of the big rollers at the end heading straight for one of the gates so had to turn and loose speed to avoid it. End result was 1 place higher than the day before but annoyed I had so many errors in my run. This meant though that I could take photos of the heats so here is a couple for you.

Some guys managed to stay on the ground the whole time over this. This guy almost landed past the next gate which is out of frame!

Thomas and Kyle had managed to qualify for the finals and eventually Thomas ended up 2nd overall, which was a fantastic result for him. At prize giving the mayor of the town even came out to hand out the medals. For a full list of results then check out the FIS site.

Video by Coach Jimbo Foster

The whole weekend was fantastic though. One of the best things about being on the team and doing these races is getting to go to places you wouldn’t ever go to before. The resort itself made such an effort for the race. The wee race hut at the bottom of the hill had photos in it of the club when it was founded in 1927. Its still a tiny mountain but you can have so much fun there. You can tell that the few people that ride it and run it have so much love for it and put every effort into keeping it going.  If you are ever in the area the do give it a go.

On the way back it had been so cold by lake Geneva that the spray had been freezing to all the railing by and piers etc near by. Even some of the trees had been totally glazed lower down in ice!

All images under strict copyright. If you would like to use any for any purpose then please contact me.