About contests… or: Why I’m riding – Open Faces *** Axamer Lizum 2014

Yesterday I got asked why I’m riding contests. Wouldn’t it be more fun to just ride, to not care about beeing judged, to avoid all the stressful situations caused by contests?


Fabian Lentsch, Mikaela Hollsten, Hanna Fisher, Lotten Rapp, Alex Hoffmann and Nadine Wallner – Keeping the Spirit up in Barcelona back from the El Dorado Freeride 2012

I was in Innsbruck, attempting to ride the FWQ Open Faces Axamer Lizum 3***, and the question was asked by the very nice roommate of the girl in which room I slept, without having ever met her before. I came with a friend, Marek Gazda, who himself came from Bratislava, so we’d share the ride.

That’s already the first reason. One meets people, sharing the same passion, is thrown in situations in unfamiliar places, is always surprised. On Contests a bunch of very different people with different background get together, sharing the same passion. Without Contests it would have been hard to get to know this international Crew of Snowboarders and Skiers who inspire me when snowboarding.

Traveling together to Contests abroad gives one an insight into other peoples lifes and dreams. One gets to ride different mountains together, gets to know other cultures. It’s always fun, some of the shared moments were the happiest of my life. Sometimes it’s also sad, because life is complicated and one meets each other only every now and then, when the schedule is allowing it.


Mikaela dancing in the sea in Barcelona 2012


With Raphael Bullet, Barcelona 2013


Riding after X-Over Kitzsteinhorn 2013, Sascha Hamm, Raphi Bullet and Saul Ferguson


Niklas Hollsten finding another impossible line to ride, 2015

The other reason is directly connected to my development as a snowboarder. I want to get better, faster, jump higher, ride more playful – just evolve. At a contest everybody is faced with the same terrain and roughly the same conditions, still every single rider has his or her own strategy to get the most out of it. Very often the snow conditions are not perfect, it’s different than in a ski or snowboard movie, where one only gets to see the highlights, a contest is real life, with all the rocks, sharks, bad conditions and bomb holes in the landing. One always sees amazing technical and radical lines one has never even imagined. It’s pure inspiration.

One of the drops of snowboarders which come to my mind immediately is this pretty crazy action of Flo Orley at the X-Over Kitzsteinhorn 2013, in difficult snow conditions, one can watch the video here (better turn the sound off, the speaker is horrible;)

Flo Orley_Kitzsteinhorn 2013

Flo Orley, X-Over Ride Kitzsteinhorn 2013, film still from the video linked above

For sure, the well published line of Fabian Lentsch at the FWQ Open Faces Obergurgl-Hochgurgl **** is another highlight, here.

And again, at Kitzsteinhorn X-Over Ride 2013 Lotten Rapp was sending it down in a crazy speed, her skies flying over the uneven ground. There is no video of this action, unfortunately.

These are just some of the inspiring moments which come to my mind.

The third and last reason is the most personal one. It’s the feeling of triumph when one archives something.

Sure, the most emotional moments are on the podium, but also riding through the finish arch if the line worked out as planned, is very fulfilling. It’s not the most important to be better than others, it’s the most important to push the own limits. At contests it’s most of the time not about taking crazy risks, but about making good decisions and execute them well in a stressful situation. It’s about planning the line and calculating the risk. It’s about knowing the own limits, about reading the mountain, about orientation and sometimes tactics.


Winning the Open Faces at Hochgurgl/Obergurgl 2014

Back to the initial cause of the post: Open Faces Axamer Lizum FWQ*** got postponed. Still, because of the reasons mentioned above, it was good to visit Innsbruck, go riding and chat with all those guys and girls I miss so much when I’m in the Viennese flat lands. On the day of the Competition we had spring conditions, but too strong winds. The cancellation of the contest was handled very professional by the Team of the Open Faces Organisation, we even got a voucher for a free day skipass at the resort of Axamer Lizum.


Afternoon light, Axamer Lizum





One response to “About contests… or: Why I’m riding – Open Faces *** Axamer Lizum 2014

  1. Pingback: FWQ Jasna 4**** – one week after | manuela mandl winterlife·

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