on saturday, the FWQ * contest in the hochkoenig region was able to take place. previous contests had to be postponed due to the lack of snow in this winter season, so this was the first contest of the open faces freeride series in this winter season.
we went to maria alm in the hochkoenig region on friday. our first mission was to do a face check of the competition face. sadly, the wind was blowing at high speeds, which meant that the abergbahn, with which you can get closest to the competiton face, was not running. also, the warm wind hat affected the snow pack negatively, meaning that the snow had gotten wet and heavy.
the t-bar, which would have been the second best choice for us, was not running either. we were unsure what to do and already talked about hiking up to the place, where the finish of the contest was going to be the next day. then we suddenly saw that the t-bar got switched on – we rode down to the valley station of the t-bar and found it to be closed down again. luckily, we encountered the two lift operator guys who told us that they were awaiting a group of people who needed to use the lift, for whom they were going to switch it on again and that we could sneak into the lift line behind those people.
we waited a little bit and then rode up to the bottom of the competition face. we had a good luck at it with a pair of binoculars and saw that there was just enough snow to ride, despite the high temperatures.
afterwards, we checked in at our room at the berggasthof hinterreit, then went for a vegan pizza at “pick nick ossi” in maria alm.
on saturday, the alarm went off at 6 am. needless to say, i had had a pretty sleepless night (fell asleep in front of the tv at about half past 8 pm, got up to brush my teeth at 11:30 pm and couldn’t fall asleep properly for the rest of the night… i’m such a pro!) and crawled out of bed like a zombie. i managed to pull myself together until breakfast at half past 6.
at 7:30, it was time to meet up at the valley station for accreditation. but instead of a queue full of freeriders, we found a few confused looking freeriders and stressed organization team members. we got the info that the guides and the organization crew were checking out the contest face and waiting for more weather info concerning the wind at the moment. instead of accreditation, we started with the riders meeting to ensure no more delay as soon as the ok to run the contest would come.
we talked about the snow conditions, time table and required safety equipment. accreditation was rescheduled to a later time. we were told to show up at the valley station at 9:30 again, which left us with about one hour of free time. we decided to take the gondola and do one ride to stay warm.
when we arrived at the bottom again, accreditation had already started, so we lined up in the queue and filled out our registration forms. at 9:30, we had a quick second riders meeting and then everyone took the gondola up.
at first we were told that we would have to hike up to the starting gates after the face check, but during face check we got an update, saying that the abergbahn would open up and we could all take the chairlift. from the top station, we had to follow a ski route and then traverse to the starting place on the other side of the ridge above the contest face. a short climb later, the first 5 competitiors were standing on top of the slope. this also included me, as i had scored bib number 4.
as usual, the women were the first riders to start. we were 9 snowboarders and 10 skiers. after us, the men had their go, 32 skiers and 25 snowboarders.
the first part after the start was pretty steep, over 40 degrees. we had the choice to start directly at the start flags or more to the right (riders right, meaning seen from the riders perspective), where one would have to drop in from a rock.
i chose to start from the flags, traversed to the right, did a little cliff drop onto the slope and then rode towards the middle of the slope. sadly, i was not able to go as fast as i wanted in that middle section and i also missed out on a few smaller rocks, where i could have jumped.
in the bottom part, shortly before the finish line, i did a small straight air.
i was happy that i had not fallen, but at the same time i had wished for more. in the end, i came in 5th place, which is okay, but i’m motivated to do better in the future.
the snow conditions were difficult to ride, as the snow was decelerating and you could easily get stuck with the nose of your snowboard or the tips of your skis. some riders took a fall because of that, but luckily no one got injured. a few riders even managed to get down the contest face in style.
the results are:
1. Birgit Ertl (AUT)
2. Kornelia Kocher (AUT)
3. Stefanie Noppinger (AUT)
1. Maximilian Dettenhofer (GER)
2. Colin Biribauer (AUT)
3. Michael Strauß (AUT)
1. Siobhan Challis (AUT)
2. Jenny Farrah (USA)
3. Sophia Neuner (GER)
1. Andreas Bichler (AUT)
2. Matthias Zauner (AUT)
3. Johannes Schwaiger (AUT)
the full results can be downloaded here
my report is online on powderguide.com now!