Almabtrieb: The Organiser’s View with Olivier Gires

Olivier Gires (left) and Stefan Risch @ Almabtrieb © Patrick Labitzke

Almabtrieb is coming back next year. This time it will be organised on a new track in Austria and in collaboration with the BigMountainSkate crew. It’s not official yet but it should happen in the midd of July, before the first KnK week and it might be an IDF WC… or WQS race. We’ll find out soon enough.

Organising events can be a stressful work but at the end it always leaves a positive effect, not only on the organisers, but on everyone else as well. “That cool dad”, a good friend of ours and the Almabtrieb attaché – Olivier Gires dropped in few words and thoughts about the event from his point of view. Fire away, Olivier!


~ Almabtrieb: The Organiser’s View by Olivier Gires ~

Olivier Gires (left) and Stephan Risch @ Almabtrieb © Patrick Labitzke
Olivier Gires [left] and Stephan Risch © Patrick Labitzke

Almabtrieb. At the sound of this word every downhill skater gets shaky legs, centers itself again and looks forward to an intense race with the best of the world. It was pretty much with the same almost reverential feeling that I listened to stories about Almabtrieb in 2008, when I started skating.

In 2009, when my speed on a board started to exceed walking pace, I was looking forward to join at least as a spectator. But, deception came and Almabtrieb was cancelled that year.

One year later Stephan Risch and Andi Gniadek organised a reissue of the legendary race on a totally new track. In 2010 it was already held on the long and fast track in the Bavarian backcountry, which would be the scene in the following years too. Top speed was 104km/h in the finals in 2013 just before the sharp left hairpin called Risch curve.

I came in 2010 with my son Lenny, he would race in juniors, I would be spectator. But wait, no, as a course marshal (spontaneous recruitment hasn’t changed too much over the years). “Eimer, there are two deer in the s-bend, they run around nervously…” …”get rid of them, no matter how!”. The deer managed the situation themselves without any collision.

Three years later, 2013, at the tenth jubilee of the race, I joined the organisation team with Stephan Risch and Andi Gniadek for the first time and could get to experience such an international DH event from a different perspective. And it didn’t prevent me to be part of the game again a year later. The orga team developed into tight friendships. Or was this the other way round? Who knows…

But now a couple of facts: organising Almabtrieb for me equals to take 7 holidays, having no real rest for at least 10 days but also not being alone for that time frame, together with Stephan being mum and dad for an equivalent of ten kindergarten, the systematic loss of my voice around day 2-3 in exchange with the win of a robust cold in the middle of summer, 3-5 hours of sleep per night, countless discussions, a couple of which with neighbours, who are less positive and send the police as often as they can, dealing with pyromaniacs (not my area of expertise until recently), worries if it will all run smooth, riders would be happy and no one gets seriously injured, looking at the weather forecast weeks ahead (makes no sense…still did it and discovered agrarian weather forecasts as a robust source), adrenaline peaks sufficient for the remaining of the year, tight friendships, very tight friendships, heaps of laughters and sometimes… goose bumps.

Almabtrieb 2014 © Marcus Knoblechner
Almabtrieb 2014 © Markus Knoblechner

For example when I finally manage to stand in the well-known Risch corner on Saturday and watch the semis and finals. Everyone laughs, yells, cheers, parties and enjoys the event. Commonly, a huge positive tension falls off along with the end of the finals and a big smile takes over. It all ran well, now it´s only about the party in the evening and… fuck… REMOVAL.

But wait, before all that happens, Almabtrieb means building up and securing more than 3km of the track with a horde of the best guys I know (yep…here again…playing dad… confiscate fireworks… laugh… shaking heads…grumble…inwardly smile and truly rely on each other. THANKS guys!).

It also means unloading hay balls, secure corners, set poles, tighten ropes and driving the track up and down countless times in the truck (it feels like I could do this while sleeping, eyes shut and backwards after two days). In the evening talking with the local residents calls for excellent language skills (please keep in mind: Bavarian tongue is not the easiest after 6 beers… and 6 beers is not talking about me drinking them). Thanks to you all!

As it should be for this international format race, approx. 180 riders from all over the world usually attend the Almabtrieb. The riders´ list covers everyone from race beginner to top riders, who all deserve to be looked after and take care of. Some expect less, others more.

Almabtrieb 2014 © Marcus Knoblechner
Almabtrieb 2014 © Markus Knoblechner

And all that obviously happens to be in a mixture of languages, such that I am not sure about which language I actually talk after a couple of days. However, before the riders´ list eventually grows, we ask hundredfold the very same questions: will they come? Will it run smooth? Will it be a success? Will all the numerous hours of work, which Stephan primarily puts into pre-event orga, pay out?

According to the majority of riders, who would give us a feedback, then yes it is absolutely worth it and pays out. At the Saturday party some riders would come to us and show how stoked they are (even if I dislike this word, but stoke simply describes it best). And then…almost like a miracle… it may even happen that Eimer, the race director from outer space, hugs me and later picks up the mic as the MC, while hardcore shouter Jimmy Riha roughs up the crowd from up the stage! Well, this is a goose bumps moment too. Rock on!!!

Thanks to all, I mean really all!


Words by Olivier Gires
Photos by Markus Knoblechner
Additional photos by Patrick Labitzke

Banana Longboarding – The best of 2015

Banana Longboarding – The best of 2015

The year is almost over and as winter slowly starts to take over, it is time to take a look back to this amazing season, which of course does not mean we stopped skating, because fortunately the roads over here are still dry and snow free. Probably even snow would not keep us away from doing it, but deep down we all wish the summer back, especially with all this great memories and the certainty, that 2016 is going to top it again.

The BananaCrew, located in Vienna enjoyed the season on their favourite homespots, explored tons of new roads and had an amazing time during all the events skating the sickest mountain passes that Europe has to offer.

First we joined the High-Black-Corner-Jam in Berchtesgaden organised by Rollbrett Salzburg, where the riders basically had a downhill skatepark with some sweet hairpins for sliding.

Jakob Grasmann at Graveyard Slide Jam © Banana Longboarding
Jakob Grasmann at Cementary Slide Jam © Banana Longboarding

After that, it was time for the BigMountainSkate event series, which started with the by now infamous Alpenrauschen, a really fast and dangerous track.

Next stop was the KNK Longboard Camp, a six-day-long event in Slovenia, where we had countless runs on the Bear. The fact that it was our third time at KNK, shows how much fun this road is.

Philip Tankarian rocking at KnK 2015 © Laroulette Bruxelles
Philip Tankarian rocking at KnK 2015 © Laroulette Bruxelles

Then, in August, there was Bela Joyride, again well organised by the BMS Crew, providing the stoked skaters a 6km long rollercoaster with 16, mostly banked hairpins. The name speaks for itself!

Leon Kutzner at Bela Joyride © CK Photography
Leon Kutzner at Bela Joyride © CK Photography

Finally there was the well known LoRaLo, a freeride and race at the same time, with a night slide jam and mini ramp contest, which fulfils all a downhill skater could ever wish for. About two month ago we organised a little slide jam on one of our favourite slide spots in Vienna, which was a lot of fun too.

And to top it of, between all these events we skated the wonderful BananaLand!

Jan Winkler, Jakob Grasmann and Philip Tankarian © Banana Longboarding
Jan Winkler, Jakob Grasmann and Philip Tankarian © Banana Longboarding

So you can imagine how stoked we are about the past season! Some of this great skate moments are captured in our 2015 Compilation and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Big thanks goes the the awesome downhill community in general, and especially to the BigMountainSkate Crew, Rollbrett Salzburg and Longboard Magazine!


Follow Banana Longboarding via Facebook and YouTube.

Girls, get stoked for the fifth edition of Women’s Longboard Camp 2016

Womens Longboard Camp

Womens Longboard Camp

Women’s Longboard Camp will take place for the fifth time next year and the crew around Fee Bücheler and Christine Maier are pulling out all the stops to make it one to remember and celebrate in style. If you’ve been to any of the WLC events before, you know what that means…!

After a two-year residency in Stuttgart, the gang is off to explore new shores next spring and take over a beautifully sustainable venue near Lisbon – watch out Portugal!

Since its inception in 2012, the WLC collective have organised womens-only skate events in three countries and taught women of more than fourteen different nationalities. The crew aim to create a relaxed, non-competitive and non-judgemental atmosphere, giving riders the opportunity to push their boundaries in a safe environment under competent, hands-on guidance.

The instructor crew boasts a few household names including Bekks Gemperle and Bettina Luginbühl, so you can rest assured that the girls know their stuff and that you’ll be learning from some of the best.

Womens Longboard Camp

The complete package caters for anybody from novice to advanced skater and includes a daily mobility practice as well as all-inclusive catering and trips to explore the local area. As always, the main focus of the event lies on the technical and athletic aspects of the sport and participants can expect an action-packed week of full-on skating. To make the event accessible to as many women as possible, riders can choose from a five and a seven-day package.

No previous boarding experience necessary, total beginners are most welcome – test boards provided by Sector 9. The event will take place in Sintra, Portugal, a stone’s throw from the Atlantic coast from March 05 to 12, save the date!

For further information and to register,
visit the official WLC website or WLC 2016 Facbook event page.

BigMountainSkate’s LoRaLo 2015 official video recap by BrosBeforePros

The long-awaited official video recap of Bigmountainskate’s smallest but raddest event LoRaLo is finally here! Filmed and edited by BrosBeforePros with the help of Alexander Frischauf, it brings back memories in a coolest way possible. Four days of endless fun, drunken nights and skating with the family was a perfect ending of the season for some of us. We’re already looking forward for the next year’s edition.

 

Racing at LoRaLo is always fun and never stressful. Much respect to everyone who were able to handle all those positive vibes and congratulations to all the winners!

Ladies 1st Gloria Kupsch / 2nd Susan Heine / 3rd Corrina Weigl
Open 1st Quirin Ilmer / 2nd Matthias Mögele / 3rd Georg Mekisch
Juniors 1st Jonas Stein / 2nd Janto Just / 3rd Anton Gerstmayr
Buttboard 1st Gerrit Geiger / 2nd Alex Frischauf / 3rd Matthias Mögele

Matthias Mögele won a slopestyle and Arno Tien a miniramp contest.

If you’re keen to find out more about how this year’s LoRaLo went down, Markus Knoblechner already summed it all up in a great write-up for the Skate[Slate] magazine.

Ian Freire’s Eurotour 2015 video recap

Ian Freire winning the Red Bull No Paws Down 2015. Photo by CK Photography

Ian Freire, the Red Bull No Paws Down 2015 champ dropped in with his Eurotour 2015 video recap. We had a quick chat so check out the videos and read-through to see what he has to say about it.

At the end of June 2015, me and my teammates and good friends from Face Skate Wheels, Tiago Mohr and Carlos Paixao packed up and travelled overseas to Europe. First stop was Italy where we joined up with our good friend, also a Face Skate team rider, Fillipo Salerni. We stuffed our gear in his awesome van and started our Eurotour. Mission objective – Hit some IDF races and freeride across Europe.

Tiago, Carlos and Ian at Kozakov '15. Photo by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cgsa.cgsa" target="_blank">CGSA</a>
Tiago, Carlos and Ian at Kozakov ’15. Photo by CGSA
Tiago Mohr at Kozakov '15. Photo by CGSA
Tiago Mohr at Kozakov ’15. Photo by CGSA
Fillipo Salerni at Kozakov '15. Photo by CGSA
Fillipo Salerni at Kozakov ’15. Photo by CGSA

We went to three races, TMI Lillyhammer, Kozakov Challenge and the Verdicchio Race while always freeriding some sick spots between the events. I’m not much of a racer, but my buddies did well. Carlos won Verdicchio Race and was 3rd at Kozakov, Tiago was 6th at Verdicchio and Filippo’s best result was 45th at Kozakov.

We also skated the KnK Longboard Camp. For me it turned out to be the best time of the trip. I was wondering how Slovenia would be like and it turned out to be a super sick and wild place with rivers, thick green forests and massive mountains surrounding the Bear’s Guts.

Ian Freire at KnK '15. Photo by Luca Longboards
Ian Freire at KnK ’15. Photo by Luca Longboards

I ended up winning the Red Bull No Paws Down race and couldn’t be more stoked about it! I was so happy to finish the event like that after so many days of riding!

Ian Freire winning the Red Bull No Paws Down 2015. Photo by CK Photography
Ian Freire (1st), Dominic Shenk (2nd), Thomas Rushovich (3rd) at Red Bull No Paws Down 2015. Photo by CK Photography

40 days later, after traveling through 11 countries, we’ve made it back to Italy with the best memories possible and smiles on our faces. Mission accomplished. We can’t wait for 2016 and are already planning our Eurotour for next year. See you soon again everyone!

Words by Ian Freire

Ian Freire repps these fine companies:
Face Skate Wheels, Coast Skateboards and Rhino Skate Shop