Words and photos by Ed
Q. What’s the German for ‘wheelbarrow’?
This is just one of the things we learned as we knocked on various doors in the Austrian village of Feichten last Sunday, looking for anything which could help us cart a few tons of snow from the roadside to a grassy slope at the base of the mountain. Thanks to the guys at Kaunertal – the local glacier and host to the 2010 Snowboard Test – Whitelines had taken delivery of a truck load of the white stuff and a hefty box; now all we needed was a tractor. But heck, this is Sound of Music country, where every other household owns a herd of Milka-esque cows. How hard could it be?
Well, when your event happens to clash with a local cow show, it turns out: quite hard! It seemed every farmer in this sleepy valley was showing off their finest bovines and had taken their tractor keys with them. We would have to take up one lady’s kind offer of a ‘scoopenkarten’… That is, until word of our plight spread through the town and a bearded chap with arms like tree trunks came to our rescue armed with a JCB.
Game on! Under the watchful eye of Castelford’s finest shaper Damian Doyle, the set-up was completed, the riders appeared and the second annual Whitelines Rail Jam, in association with Quiksilver and Lib Tech, began.
Just like last year’s inaugural event, the idea was to bring a little après shred to the Board Test après scene. Spirits are always super high amongst the shops, riders and brands on the first full day of the test, so a casual session back in town is the perfect way to continue the fun and catch up with old friends.
Having warmed up and got the measure of the set-up, the riders were let loose on a brand new competition format christened ‘Shred Bingo’. Numbered ping-pong balls were drawn out of a hat, each of which corresponded to one of a hundred rail tricks on a list. The first rider to successfully land a required move got a letter towards S.H.R.E.D, and a fresh ball would then be pulled from the hat. Once a rider got all five letters (or a ‘Full House’) they would get a prize, and the game would start over.
It proved a popular and fast paced game – less drawn out than traditional games of SHRED/HORSE/SKATE and with more of a positive focus, since riders are rewarded for landing rather than penalized for falling. Before long, however, the sheer number of tricks – ranging from a simple 50-50 to ridiculously tech combos – separated the men from the boys.
More specifically, it separated Jonny Russell from everyone else. Jonny is a graduate of the Castleford indoor scene and has been blowing minds with his world class jib skills for a couple of years now (just check out this video of him and his crew tearing Leeds a new arsehole).
For part time rail riders and spectators it was hard to keep up: no sooner had a ping pong ball been drawn and MC Weaver called a trick, Jonny had landed it. Meanwhile the rest of us were still trying to figure out what a ‘switch back one to 5-0 to front three out’ might look like.
While Jonny deservedly claimed the overall prize, due props must go out to some of the other riders who gave him a good run for his money. Tom ‘Little T’ Guilmard, Si Foster, Angus Leith, Danny McCormick, Sam Turnbull and youngster Rowan Coultas all offered further proof that when it comes to producing jibbing talent, the UK’s slopes are as efficient as any Finnish production line.
After a good three hour’s shred, rain clouds began looming on the horizon and everyone headed across the road to the Pfiff Alm bar to continue the party. Meanwhile, us organizers had the fun job of chopping up a few tons of salted snow (those Austrian farmers are very precious about their grass) and lugging the box back down the field – this time without the aid of a JCB.
The hard work had definitely been worthwhile, however, and the Whitelines Rail Jam will be returning bigger than ever next year.
Big thanks to all who helped us on the project: Damian Doyle, Andy at Lib Tech, Meena at Quiksilver, Jon Weaver, Neil Campbell and Sam Nelson