by Sanne Buurma

Week-trip: Kleinarl, Austria

20110616 – Update:
Video is finished check it out here!

More information about the location and the park: AbsolutPark – Flachau – Kleinarl, Austria.

How is it possible that every time I’m nearing the end of my snowboard trips I’m overflowing with confidence and in contrast to the start – where I do challenge myself stepping outside my comfort zone – I’m not all that confident. Of course I understand how this works and why it is this way, but it would be nice to have the feeling I experience at the end of a trip and capture it to boost confidence the next time I embark on a trip. Maybe that starts by just writing down the experiences here on my blog and reading them up, just before I leave on another trip… So here it goes for Kleinarl, Austria in January 2011.

Beforehand I’d thought it to be wise to only focus on a few tricks and techniques while I was in Austria, but I soon discoverd that’s not the way for me. I wanted to focus on 180′s and 360′s over kickers back- and frontsided, but ended up having one of the best rail- and rainbowfeatured trips ever. Without even mentioning the nice amount of POW-riding which is just fascinating and at the same time super addicting.

Even though Kleinarl does it name honor as ‘Klein’ stands for small in dutch, it is situated perfectly on a one lift ride into the mountains, from where you can choose a destination back into the Kleinarl valley or the opposite side to the Flachau-winkl valley. It features a super nice park run (Absolute Park) with a lot of different features and on top of that it even features a wide area called ‘the Stash’.

The Stash
The Stash is a concept where they leave slopes unprepped, so one can experience true off-piste experience when it had dumped snow the night before. Luckily for us we were in the position to ride the stash in both conditions, when it was still sunny and when a fresh dump of powder had covered the area. It’s just super addicting to ride pow, no matter how much my legs would feel burned up, it was always a good idea to go for that last run at the end of the day. The Stash has a lot of naturally built features, ie like rainbows in different sizes built from bent trees, or trees situated in such a way it forms a canon. Because they’re naturally built, they pose some additional technique requirements to stomp them.

Absolute Park – Top part
So besides the riding in the Stash the second part of the week when it had snowed, we were on the park runs and stash also during the sunny first days. Starting with a few insane kickers the park run also featured a rail, box and wall ride in the first part. I kept with the latter, as my confidence was still on a low level at that point in time. Afterwards I would have liked to at least hit the first kicker, but as soon as the snow had set in, the kicker run was closed. Never the less, the first part of the park was challenging enough to be glad with hitting the features and being able to 50-50 them.

Absolute Park – Middle part
The middle part of the park run was built up from a nice run down the hill, with 5 features along the way to hit. I remember riding past them and only feeling able to 50-50 the up-flat-down-box. Next on the list was the rainbow rail that was situated after quite a speedy run leading up to the feature. The first 2 tries I couldn’t get myself to ride the rainbow as I tought I’d rocket over the thing with that speed, but finally in the 3rd run I manned up and went for it. My body position wasn’t aligned with my board so soon I found myself tumbling over the rainbow, luckily the protective gear I wear is there to minimize the effect of that happening. At the end of the week, I built up my confidence and rode all the obstacles on the middle part with a 50-50. So the flat-down-rail, down-rail, the flat-rail and evetually also the rainbow rail.

Absolute Park – Bottom part
The bottom part of the run was mainly built around a small area with the chill-house at the bottom of it. To the right a nice do-able kicker was setup with a up-flat-down-box on the side of it’s edge. Behind there were several features, including ‘canon’-rail, down-rail, flat boxes, a spine and more down-rails and down-boxes. A lot of features to play with, but first we went for the kicker to get some air-time in. Among the things we tried were shifties, 180s, 360s and ofcourse some crashes too. A lot of fun to ride and all of us could ride to their own limits and capabilities, making for a perfect trip to the park-run.

The ride back to the hotel in the Kleinarl-valley was totally reachable by snow in red and blue pistes. At the bottom by the elevator we had our hotel to end the day with a few beers, which makes for a perfect trip for all of us.

Concluding
For myself: I finally masterd the jumps onto rails making it possible to fully ride them 50-50 and rode some big rainbows 50-50. As for Jorg he finally conquered his fear to get jumping onto rails and Marieke totally lost her fear of the bigger kicker in the bottompart of the parkrun. Besides the park experience which has improved a lot for all of us in a week, our powder riding and off-piste skills for sure have taken it to the next level.

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