The Longboard Classic at Stuben, Austria
Words and Photos: Bob Klien
As a community of like minded people, snowboarders love to talk about passion and a love of snowboarding. We like to talk about riding with friends, and pushing ourselves to ride as much as possible, all while having the most fun we can. There are some events conducted around the World that reflect all of those feelings, such as the Mt Baker Banked Slalom, Tailgate Alaska, The US Open, The Holy Bowly and more.
There is one event that has taken place in Stuben, Austria every year for the last fourteen, The Longboard Classic. It is billed as "The Woodstock of snowboarding." Haven't heard about it? Maybe because it is the least hyped event of all. Upon first glance, it appears to be a pretty serious endeavor. Serious because when you sign up for The Longboard Classic, billed as a 1000 vertical meter Chinese downhill and you have to ride a 172 or longer, or a board built before 1990, you sign up for what appears to be a possibly dangerous run down a steep mountain with no rules. But how serious can it be? Stuben is a ski area connected to the St Anton-Lech ski area network, so it is part of a huge lift system, covering lots of acreage. It is located in the Arlberg region, also known as THE pow hotspot in the Alps. Every year we see epic photos and videos taken in the Arlberg from all the best riders. This place definitely has the goods for any serious shredder. The mountain is a 1000' meter vertical drop, or to us Yanks, 3000 vertical feet. Lots of great terrain, from open bowls to gnarly chutes to sick tree lines. Stuben is a dreamland! Most tourists don't venture over to Stuben, as it looks small on the map and is serviced by three double chairs. That's right, fixed double chairs shuttle you up the mountain. No fancy six pack or bubble chairs or tissue stations. Just a great mountain with chairlifts and excellent Austrian restaurants in town, at the midway station and on top.
This year marked another perfect event. There was some powder earlier in the week and by Saturday morning, the sky opened to warm temps and sunny weather with light winds. This was my fifth running at The Longboard Classic and while I didn't win my division, I felt every bit a winner because I had one of the best runs of the year, sharing my turns and smiles with at least 50 riders who brought their old "firewood" to ride. I chose a 1987 Sims Blade, mainly because the stance works well and the board was perfect for the conditions, but really I chose the Blade because this year's Longboard Classic paid special tribute to Tom Sims. The best thing about the LBC is how UN serious everyone is. Sure, we are racing and racing to win, but the reality is we are there to share in our spirit as snowboarders. Paul Gruber was a big name pro back in the 80s and early 90s and he's one of the founders of Crazy Banana Snowboards, which eventually turned into Rad Air. Paul doesn't work in the snowboard business anymore, but his spirit is still so strong, he takes on the organization of the LBC. It is his event and his excuse to throw a huge party every year. Five years ago Paul wanted to get Terry Kidwell to the event. Once he realized Terry was part of a semi metal band, Paul extended an invite to the entire band. Shawn Farmer was the singer and I was the drummer and all we needed were passports to make the trip. The Longboard Classic began a tradition of inviting "legends" and as it appeared to us, many of the old school European riders not only show up, but revel in the old school atmosphere of the event. US legends such as Mike Ranquet and Mikey Basich have made appearances and next year it is rumored that Chuck Barfoot is going to make the trip. It will be a major celebration for the 15th running of the LBC. Plans for an even bigger party are in the works, we're hoping to break 500 entries. This year we had over 400! The scheduled date is April 5th, 2014. Be there or be square!
But the LBC is not just a retro legend event. There are plenty of young riders who show up to end their season in good snow, great weather and the most chill party you will run across. Most of the old schoolers bring their kids, so we see three to four generations of riders all having a blast, ripping turns together and laughing the whole time. There really is nothing like watching more than 200 riders drop in together and find their line down the mountain. The finale of the event is the old school movie night and huge party in the main tent, set up in downtown Stuben. Conforming to the theme this year, a tribute video was shown, honoring Tom Sims.
Additionally, some unbelievable old snowboard footage was shown, obscure Swiss and German television shows from the early 80s showcasing the crazy new sport called snowboarding. You can see a wrap up video as well as the Tom Sims tribute video by visiting the LBC website: www.longboardclassic.com