this weekend, we’ve been to kappl (near ischgl in tyrol) to compete in the fwq** contest there. originally, i thought i would have to compete in kappl alone, because roman didn’t make it onto the starting list immediately, but a few days before the weekend he received an e-mail that a few slots had opened up again. he agreed to take one of the slots and we were both really happy about it.
previously, the freeride world tour contest in fieberbrunn, that was meant to take place on the 1st of february, had been postponed due to the snow conditions to the 3rd of february, and took place on the same face in kappl, on which we were going to compete in the fwq** contest. since we were able to watch the fwt contest on the live stream, we had a good chance to check out the face and think about possible lines.
luckily, it had snowed a bit more since the fwt contest and we were optimistic, that we would have good conditions.
on saturday, we arrived in kappl, bought a ticket & went up to the top station of the albittkopfbahn to do a face check. the face looked pretty good, but not as powder-y as expected. as it was already late afternoon, the snow on the ski route 17 that we followed for a short bit had already thawed a bit, so it was rather surfy to ride – but on the other hand, we knew that there might be a crust on top of the snow the next morning. and so it was …
sunday started early at 5:30 am, we packed our bags, had a quick breakfast at 6 and then left the guesthouse at 6:30. at 7, we arrived at the valley station of the dias-bahn, met fellow contestant chevy in the accreditation queue and waited for accreditation to start.
we filled out the waiver and picked up our bibs and goodie bags – i got bib #3 and roman got bib #23. that was a rather funny coincidence, as friends of us, bea & steve pacher (check out my article on mizzi.at about actioncats to find out more about bea, who is one of the leaders of that awesome group), who were going to compete at the fwq** in goldeck on the same day, had received the same bib numbers. maybe those are reserved for married snowboarder couples? ;)
afterwards, we took the gondola up to the sunny mountain restaurant, where the riders meeting was going to happen at 8:30. we received lots of useful information as usual, especially concerning the snow conditions and of course the time table. this time it was crucial to start the hike up to the starting gates early enough, as the hike was estimated to last about 40 minutes. i have no idea how long it actually took me, but i was stressed a bit because i knew i was late. i had not brought my watch with me, so i messed that up. next time, i’ll wear my watch for sure!
we were asked in advance to bring a climbing harness, as the ascent had some pretty steep parts in it, but in the end, it all was covered in enough snow to ensure safety without being belayed – the mountain guides and contest organizers made sure to form safe steps in the snow for the contestants to climb up in. there was one steep section were two mountain guides kept an eye on the contestants, which gave me a good feeling, although i didn’t need any help. i just strapped my board onto the backpack and made sure to focus on the next steps instead of looking around too much.
shortly before reaching the starting gates, i could hear the announcer talk about the contest start being delayed for 10 minutes – i breathed a sigh of relief, as i knew that i was going to be able to make it up in time. i reached the starting gates, took my board off the backpack and quickly put my bib on. i was a bit surprised by the entrance into the slope, as it looked more spicy than expected. luckily, i had the chance to watch 2 riders enter the competition face before i had to start, that gave me at least a bit of a chance to estimate where i would want to drop in.
the contest face. the start was at the peak on the right side of the picture, the finish is visible at the very bottom of the picture, marked by the flags.
then my time had come – after a countdown, i started my run.
i chose the steep, rocky traverse over to the riders right section of the face and made it across safely. then i dropped in and… one of my binding straps came loose. i bent down and closed it again, but was bummed about this small mistake.
next thing i know, i picked up velocity and then saw a few small rocks in front of me. i quickly made the decision to jump over them, pointed my board straight onto them, ollied off, landed and managed to ride away straight. i was very happy about that, as i often have the problem of braking after a jump or drop. not so this time! :)
sadly, i was so focussed on stomping that jump, that i didn’t pay enough attention to the entrance of the gully that i was planning to ride and missed the chance to make it through the small valley before the gully. i came to a halt and then had to lie down and whip my board around. i was bummed out! also, it added to my exhaustion and when i finally came up again, i started to ride again and tried to catch my breath.
i rode through the gully – the judge later told me that i should have gone a lot faster, but i saw an improvement in my riding, as i was able to ride the gully rather fluidly. of course it was not fluid enough to achieve a good amount of points, but it made me happy to witness my own progression.
in the bottom section of the slope, i jumped over a small windlip and ended my run by going through the two flags. i was content with my ability to ride down the whole face without being extremely exhausted (although it was very exhausting still). i know that i wouldn’t have been able to do that 2 years ago.
i stopped next to the other 2 women who had already completed their run and sat down. we talked about our experiences and watched the other riders master the face.
i waited until roman had his run (he chose a safe and mellow, but very fun-looking line and made it down without a fall) and afterwards we rode to the public area to view the rest of the contest. fatigue kicked in and i rested a bit on my board (did i mention that i bought a k2 fastplant in 154? it’s an amazing board!).
at 2:30pm it was time for the prize giving ceremony. i was very nervous somehow, although i knew for sure that i hadn’t been able to perform good enough to be on the podium. talks were given and the winners were announced (congrats to all, especially to chevy, who placed 3rd in the snowboard women category – well deserved).
when the ceremony was over, we talked to the snowboard judge a bit to find out what we could improve in the next contests. we also got to know our results – i placed 4th and roman placed 13th. not so bad!
then we rode down to the valley, threw our stuff into the car and started our looooong drive home – only interrupted by a delicious pizza in a restaurant in see. the drive home was not as long as the one to kappl (it took us 5 hours instead of 4 due to traffic jams), still i didn’t manage to stay awake the whole time. good that i wasn’t the one behind the steering wheel ;)
our next plans are a trip to the guttenberghaus in the dachstein massif, where we’ll stay in the winter shelter room, and the fwq* contest at the weißsee gletscherwelt resort in uttendorf.