We’re out at Spring Break, the annual pilgrimage to Kaunertal in Austria to test out the best of next season’s boards, boots, bindings and whatnot.
That being said, perhaps this time around ‘spring break’ isn’t the preferred nomenclature – what with the wintry conditions and buckets of snow that greeted us up the mountain. It was a mad dash for the wierdly-shaped powder boards this morning, with plenty of freshies to be had.
By the afternoon, though, the attention turned to the annual Whitelines Rail Jam which, after several successful years, now goes hand-in-hand with Spring Break like a racism scandal and UKIP. The créme de la rad of the UK rail scene was once again in attendance, even if the sun wasn’t.
Things got going with a jam format to determine the best ten riders, who would then be divided into two teams. Sparrow Knox was immediately flying like the bird he shares a name with, gapping the down-flat-down with a double shifty to frontside boardslide. Gaz Andrews was all about the gaps too, almost running out of rail on one attempt but just managing to clip the metal at the tail end of a monster 270. After missing last year, Matt MacWhirter made a welcome return to the jam, an inch-perfect frontside 270 to tailslide on the downrail among the terrific stuff he was doing
Sadly Alise Balode was the only female rider taking to the course, but she made up for the shortfall by styling out some nice backside boardslides on the tube rail. Meanwhile local riders Fabian Fraidl, Dylan Norder, Marvin Salmina (whose front 1 to 5050 to cab 1 out on the double-kink was a definite highlight) and Lorenzo Peeters were ensuring it wasn’t going to be a Brit-only affair.
Everyone was killing it; Andy Nudds, Dom Harington, Marc McClement, Rowan Coultas… the bangers just kept on coming. Sparrow landing on the flat section of the down-flat-down in a bluntslide followed by a 270 out might have been the most impressive thing he did all day, had he not later caught a brutal toe edge in the run-out and somehow fully frontflipped back round to his board. Insane.
Soon the field had to be whittled down for the 2-team final, with Nuddsy and Sparrow chosen as team captains. After a predictable thumb-war victory for Andy “Shovel Hands” Nudds, he got first pick as the field was divided in two – could he assemble a crew strong enough to hand him his second win on the trot?
In the red corner: Nuddsy, McWhirter, Marc, Lorenzo and Gaz. In the blue corner: Sparrow, Rowan, Melvin, Dylan and Fabi. The head-to-heads began with Rowan vs Nudds, the former winning out thanks to a massive backside 270 gap to boardslide on the double kink while Nuddsy fell. Marc’s frontside 270 on levelled the scores – even as it just about snapped his deck in two – after Sparrow came a cropper.
Some rounds were a lot closer to call; how do you choose between a Marvin Salmina switch-up through the double kink, and a Gaz Andrews gap front 2 to boardslide? Nuddsy stepped it up in round two with a massive frontside 270 stalefish to front board, while Lorenzo gave the downrail some love with a back 1 to 5050 to switch back 1 out.
Several bangers later, Sparrow’s team had it in the bag. With the result already settled, Gaz had nothing to gain from his last hit. Even so, he got what might have been the biggest cheer of the day when he stomped an absolutely monstrous stalled frontside 270 to boardslide.
It was an utter, utter banger, and a fitting end to another banging comp at Kaunertal. With the snow falling heavily by the end, the crowd left knowing there was a strong chance of another pow day to look forward to tomorrow. What more could you want?