By Laura Murphey
"Take it to the next village!" was the theme for the dealer-focused trip to Austria with Atomic Snowboards, March 16 to 22. Only 25 lucky snowboard buyers from select shops across the country had the pleasure of attending a full expense-paid week of snowboarding, partying, and a little business.
The adventure was organized by Atomic Snowboards General Manager Luke Edgar. To show the dealers his belief that there is a place in the industry for Atomic, Edgar knew what he had to do: take them to the factory and show them the time of their lives.
Edgar, known for his ability to throw some of the best dealer trips in the industry, definitely kept his reputation at the end of this event.
Edgar is hoping that his strategy will pay off: "Half of the dealers on the trip had not yet placed their order. They were waiting to see the factory and the outcome of the trip."
So far his hopes look good with a positive response from Shred Shop Owner Chris Bachman: "In having seen many brands come and go, I feel that Atomic will be a brand that big players will have to watch in the future."
The trip started with most arriving safely at the Salzburg airport in Austria on Sunday March 16. Despite a wing duck-taped to the plane, the dealers were ready to get to the hotel. After arranging a caravan of rental cars headed in the right direction, it was only another half an hour to the destination for the next four nights in Flachau. That is where it all began.
Anxious to experience real Austrian culture, the crew (aka the Weiner Alliance, plus two females) headed to the casino and then to a local pub for a long night of losing money and drinking beer. Some went to bed since a long day of touring the factory, making snowboards, and riding the local mountain lay ahead. Others, however, disregarding all advice, made it to bed quite a bit later and stayed there until 5:00 p.m. the next day, missing most activities.
Later that evening (St. Patrick's Day), everyone headed to eat at Hoagscht's, the Austrian version of Hooter's. After harassing the waitresses in leather shorts, the group split up and ended up meeting at Ema's Pub for all-night 2-for-1 Irish drinks. After flaming shots, Irish Car Bombs, and dancing on the bar, most people made it back to the hotel alive with only a few burn marks.
Luckily the next day (Tuesday) most people in the Alliance showed up for a morning of riding and an afternoon of product development feedback at the factory in Altenmarkt. The dealers were able to review concepts of future graphics for boards, as well as concepts for boots and bindings, and were asked to give their feedback.
Later that evening was a night of feasting at a family-run restaurant in the mountains, playing Austrian games, and drinking home-made schnapps. Some, who kept the party going late, even had a chance to party with local god, Herman "the Herminator" Meier at Ema's Pub.
Wednesday morning the Alliance traveled half an hour to Obertaurn for the best riding day of the week. To cool off at the end of the day, everyone put in some disco time at just one of the countless Apres Ski huts at the base of the mountain.
The next morning, after hiking out of the valley of death by taking a wrong turn on a mission to find fresh lines, riding valley to valley and village to village took up the rest of the day. Everyone then met up at a "hut" on the mountain (which wasn't so much a hut, but more like our own private hotel) to eat, drink, and stay the night.
Confined to our own bar in the afternoon and evening, Austrian sled-cross, roof jibbing, black jack, and drinking one liter mugs of beer passed the time well.
On Friday morning, riding and shopping finished off the last day in Flachau. Then it was off to Salzburg for a final big night in the city. Upon arriving at the hotel, built in 1399, most of the Alliance set out to shop for loved ones, along with a brief stop at McDonald's (the only place where everytthing on the menu was readable).
Dinner that night was dedicated to saying last good-byes, exchanging business cards, and acknowledging the MVP of the trip (hardest drinker, eater, and snowboarder), Gorio Bustamante from Seattle.
Following awards was a late-night party at club Republic, with Redbull Vodka's flowing from the bar like a waterfall. The night was a bit crazy–so crazy that some missed early morning flights for the long plane ride home to reality. Fortunately, everyone made it home safely at some point or another.