What started out as a paid “vacation” to Austria turned into a bit of a headache when I learned I had to write this story (not as bad as the one I had on the flight home after no sleep and a few massive parties, though). At the time of the trip, I was practicing the kind of naivetÇ that gets you an amazing combination of jet-lag hangovers, substantial expense reports, not that many amazing shots, and only a fuzzy account of what actually transpired.
The event was held December 9 and 10, 2000 in a little Austrian village called Seefeld. This is just up the way from Innsbruck-the original home of the competition until the trampling deaths in 1999 that left the town weary of having a gigantic mass of stumbling spectators careening through the historic stadium again. Thus, organizers moved the contest. A huge scaffolding jump was thrown up on a hillside above Seefeld, sprinkled with homemade snow, and surrounded by bleacher-seating galore. There was a big ol’ hip at the bottom of the run-out, atop which sat a brand-spanking new Audi A3. (You can’t get these cars in the States, but if you could, they’d be very hip with high-school girls-it’s cool for you, though, Gimpl.)
I-like a moron-skipped practice in a futile attempt to rent a Mercedes and drive to Venice for espresso, thereby missing the only good opportunity to get photos during daylight hours. Fortunately, other photographers there were a little more serious about shooting the contest. (Not Jeff Curtes, though. He was all over the espresso idea, too.) Mike Michalchuk and Kier Dillon killed the hip that night. I was in the “hospitality tent” when RDM (Romain De Marchi) and company started jibbing, bonking, and generally f-king up the innocent little luxury automobile parked on the hip. The Audi corporate guys were so stoked, they decided to give everyone in the contest a free car … not really, they were actually quite dismayed at the thrashing. And apparently, it wasn’t even the actual car being given away. There was some talk of Romain having to pay for the damages.Kevin Sansalone abandoned his bread-and-butter backside-rodeo five, figuring the finals of the world’s biggest stadium jump, with a huge audience and a giant prize check was both the time and the place to learn a new trick. As you might guess, he didn’t land it. Dummy. Andrew Crawford took out a mile or so of protective fencing with his face and was busy apologizing to the workers who had to rig it back up after the debacle. Dummy.
Unfortunately, not everyone who showed up was allowed in the contest. Invited-rider Gigi RÅf handed over his spot to good friend Sani Alibabic when he found out Sani wasn’t going to get to ride. Nice guy-but what a dummy.Roger Hjelmstadstuen was all hammers that night. Even Romain De Marchi was convinced it was his buddy Roger’s future Audi he was scratching the hell out of. Hjelmstastuen’s frontside 1080 “out of towner” was almost enough to wins Seefeld’s heart, but Stefan Gimpl won the shootin’ match by doing a lovely Cab nine with a special grab he likes to call “the local.”
Results1. Stefan Gimpl2. Roger Hjelmstadstuen3. Jussi Oksanen4. Chad Otterstrom
Men1. Mike Michalchuk2. Wolle Nyvelt3. Romain De Marchi4. Tom Reiches
Women1. Pauline Richon2. Tina Bierbaum3. Michele Taggart4. Tina Basich