Vans – the Southern California skate and snowboard company has been pumping out a full range of the most technical, stylish and comfortable snowboard boots for more than 20 years, so when they invited us to go to Innsbruck – which has a solid place in the history of snowboarding itself – we jumped at the chance.
Innsbruck is Austria’s second city and is nestled slap bang in the Alps – in fact the approach to the airport is one of the most exciting/terrifying in Europe as you bank around and between the mountains (it’s definitely an experience to look out of the window on approach and see mountains above the plane just a couple of hundred metres away).
Innsbruck is also widely considered the capital city of European snowboarding – it’s the home of the Air and Style event, as well as being the European base for Burton Snowboards for almost three decades, plus the International Snowboard Federation used to call the city it’s home. What’s more, you can get to six ski areas direct by public transport from the city (including the Nordkette, where the ski lift actually departs from the a city street), plus some of the most famous ski areas in Europe – Mayrhofen and St Anton are just an hour away.
So, why were we there? Vans Snow Days is where the brand get media and European retailers together to check out the next season’s product before they buy it. Vans usually fly in some of their international team riders for the event, but for this year’s edition they went all in, inviting almost the WHOLE Vans snow team. The reason for this is that they were hosting the global premiere of their first ever snowboard team movie LANDLINE in Innsbruck before kicking off a world tour or premieres. LANDLINE is a movie project that is two years in the making and has involved a huge amount of travelling to new and well established spots, so we were definitely in for a treat.
Arriving at the hotel was a surreal experience – as we walked in we saw people like Tom Copsey from Onboard, Chriso from Method, Bruno form Act and more, but then sitting next to them at the bar were some of the planet’s best riders – Bryan Iguchi, Pat Moore, Danimals, Enni Rukyavari, Jake Kuzyk, Dillon Ohjo Arthur Longo, Darrell Mathes and a whole host of talent, the likes of which I’d never seen before in one place outside of a competition.
Europe has been having a killer season so far and Austria has been getting it’s fair share, although it hadn’t snowed in that par of Austria for a few weeks. Not to worry – Axamer Lizum, where we would be riding, is relatively high and there were reports of untouched stashes to be found.
That evening we got the first look at Vans’ range for 2018/2019 and believe me, you’re going to be stoked. They’ve simplified the structure of the range while upping the spec and retaining the legendary Vans comfort, quality and style. Standouts for us at first glance was he New Hi Standard with artwork by British ripper Schoph, the Hi Standard pro for a little more support, the Pat Moore Pro with it’s legendary adjustability and support, plus a new Blake Paul x TNF collab which needs to be seen to be believed. After a frankly intemperate number of beers, we staggered to our beds around 2am and left the party raging in the bar with various members of the team trying to throw an axe at a tree.
The next morning after gearing up, we were ready to roll. Axamer Lizum was our destination and Vans had the idea of splitting everyone into groups, nominally headed by one of the pros. Great in theory, but things fell apart quickly as 50+ excited but hungover shredders dropped in at the same time, arbitrary ‘groups’ were disbanded in seconds and I enjoyed the site of The Reason photographer James North tomahawking his way down the mountain.
Despite the lack of recent snowfall there was a decent amount of good snow and we made sure that we found the best of it. Sparrow Knox got a little line off a rock band and as the fresh got rinsed, the riders got increasingly creative with where to ride next, including a terrifying looking hike along a spine ridge to some untouched snow. A couple of days at Axamer Lizum checking out new boots and riding with the crew was just what we needed, but before long it was time for the Landline premiere in Innsbruck – two years in the making and with one fate heaviest hitting line ups we’ve ever seen, the venue for the world premiere was the Leo Kino in Innsbruck and the huge cinema filled up for not one but two showings of the movie.
As the foyer filled up and the stoke levels increased James North handled the mic while I manned the camera and we shot interviews with most of the cast of the movie and then it was time for the main event! I don’t want to spoil it for you but know this – it’s one of the best shred movies we’ve seen in years and it’s live on iTunes NOW
After the show we obviously had to go to Jimmy’s Bar – and Innsbruck institution for decades – and as we walked in, the staff turned the DJ booth over to Dillon Ojo who kept he party going big time, Eventually we got kicked out, we made our way back the hotel and that was it for the trip.
These few days with Vans in Innsbruck were all time. We’d ridden pow, we’d drunk beers with some of the legends and new rippers of snowboarding, we’d tried some killer new product and we’d seen one of the most exciting new snowboard movies for years.
Thanks to Vans for all the hard work and an amazing trip. GO BUY LANDLINE NOW! We already have!