Every May, the sleepy Austrian village of Kaunertal welcome around 350 riders for Spring Break, the annual end of season event. By Harri Bennett
What started as a magazine only test event more than 20 years ago has evolved to become the #bestweekoftheyear and while it’s roots remain in testing the following seasons snowboard gear, it has grown to welcome pros, shops, media, industry and the general public alike for a week long celebration of UK snowboarding.
Kaunertal is a small, traditional farming village situated in a picturesque Tyrolean valley, surrounded by towering green mountains where waterfalls and streams gush through every crevice. Remember that famous Sound of Music scene? That’s pretty much Kaunertal in a nutshell.Take a drive up the long windy mountain road; tackling a total of 29 switchbacks and drink in the breathtaking views and fresh mountain air, – not forgetting to get your Marmot-spotting game on – and you’ll soon reach the Glacier summit, home to the Spring Break test centre. Here you’ll find all the major players from the snowboarding world offering hundreds of pieces of next season’s product for your testing pleasure. This is one of the most important aspects of Spring Break and one of the major reasons for its existence – check out The Snowboard Buyer’s Guide for evidence!
This year saw a range of on hill events at which you’d find some of the cream of the UK snowboarding crop. Ollie Dutton, Will Smith, Andy Nudds, Dom Harrington and friends were all throwing down at this year’s jams. Don’t think all the fun stops when the sun yes down, after all the madness on the hill the party continues off the hill. The sleepy little village of Kaunertal gets a rude awakening with both official and unofficial parties going off every night.
On Sunday – the first day – testing got underway bright and early before attention turned to the park. Kicking things off was the Whitelines Rail Jam where riders were split into two teams and forced to battle it out on the rail, Will Smith’s red team beat the blues and reigned supreme, winning the poll. The Riders Lounge got in there first as far as parties go, with the Deeluxe x Capita x Union x 686 Skate Jam and BBQ on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately the weather stopped most of the skating, but the free beer and burgers drew the crowd. Later that night Whitelines held their annual bash at the notorious PfiffAlm, leaving everyone slightly worse for wear the next morning.
Day 2 and The Reason Magazine got everyone involved in Tie Dye High Five up in Test Centre HQ, whilst Dragon hosted their third annual Methodical Madness up in the park, handing out big cash prizes to those pulling the raddest Methods. Thankfully Monday was a more chilled evening with a movie night at the Kiwi Lounge. Volcom showed their latest shred flick Mr Plant. Followed closely by the premier of the highly anticipated new Vans Skate film, Propeller. Five years in the making this hot film had the crown gasping and cheering as some of the world’s best skateboarders did their thing on the big screen
ThirtyTwo got the fun started early on Tuesday with free flowing tequila as they hosted their new event, Piñata Mermelada. Name of the game was to get riders using their boards to bash open the piñatas being held precariously over the kicker. Successors were rewarded with a hefty bag of ThirtyTwo swag and an extra shot of tequila. Analog carried on the party as they hosted the now infamous Analog Après, imagine Ohm-Paa music coupled with free Jager, free beers, insane drinking games, straight-arm pints and free swag. As always, crazy, messy, fun! Tuesday turned out to be the major party day with the day drinking being carried on into the early hours of the morning with the ‘Spring Break Rocks’ night, hosted by both Vans and Monster. Not just a party but also the Spring Break Air Guitar Championships, after a long and ferocious battle, Sophie Addison took the crown and the special Vans x Epiphone SG Guitar.
On Wednesday, Spring Break divides into two. The short trip riders wave Kaunertal goodbye and travel home until next year while the hardcore keep the party going on and off the hill. The second half of the week saw more shredding fun in the park, pistes and side hits of Kaunertal with some mellow evening nature hikes and more relaxed evening pub sessions. By Friday the last of the dishevelled Spring Breakers packed up their things and made the long return trip home. With a sad look in their eyes and a pain in their heart as they said goodbye to the beautiful Kaunertal, the raddest bunch of people to walk the earth and what is undoubtedly the best week of the Year.
High-Five Spring Break you did it again.
Spring Break Forever.