R&D in the land of schnitzel, spritzers, and space-age snowboard manufacturing
Words: Brendan Gouin aka Dr. B | Photos: Andy Wright
Originally published in the October 2017 issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine.
As our van rolls over the mountain pass leading into the Feistritz Valley, the clouds on the horizon part enough to allow us a glimpse at the region's terrain, leaving the crew in complete awe. Here, where the lands of Austria, Italy, and Slovenia meet, the Alps emerge from low-lying farmland expanding into snowcapped peaks above. This isn't the European Alps resort town you read about in luxury travel magazines. It's quieter. Hillside villages spill into the valleys; the mountains are towering and stoic. There is endless snowboarding to be done low and high in these mountains. As we descend into this valley, 4,027 miles away from Yawgoo, most of us first-time visitors to Europe, our collective jaw drops as we pull up to The CAPiTa Mothership. Dylan Gamache, Marcus Rand, Brian Skorupski, Scott Stevens, Mark Dangler, and myself will spend the week in the quaint region surrounding this space-age snowboard manufacturing facility.
"Everything Is Possible"--the words welcome us as we enter the hallway leading to The Mothership's production floor, and their meaning sets in as we get our hands dirty constructing a snowboard. "I've done this my whole life but literally had no clue what was inside my snowboard. So to see the whole process--all the steps--is seriously eye opening," notes Marcus. We aren't here to find new day jobs though, and I wouldn't say we're qualified to work in the factory either. The crew is anxious to start filming a new Yawgoons episode, so after picking up a couple of fresh boards we walk across the street to start riding and working on the new on-site park at The Mothership, Station 2: The Moonshot Facility.
This will be our go-to spot for the next week: one simple T-bar, a handful of rails, a bowl with two hips on the side, and a green light from the village burgermeister, or mayor, to grab shovels and build what we want. The fact that we have this setup is thanks to local legend and Austrian pro Friedl Kolar. Without hesitation, the cameras are out, and Scott Stevens has logged the first McTwist in Feistritz an der Gail snowboard history. Dylan Gamache is putting down lines in the bowl pocket, and Marcus blasts a one-footer with the Mothership looming in the background. Then the clouds part just in time for Brian Skorupski and Andy Wright to blend valleys and mountains in one photo. Oh, and in proper Austrian style, the hill has a shack at the bottom serving up schnitzel and ice cold beers.
With a few days of riding at The Moonshot Facility in the bag, we're ready to explore. A local crew has pointed us in the direction of a large lakeside park as potential venue for filming. They're right; it's amazing. On a trip of firsts we decide to check another more box, and Scott and Dylan log a clip on a ping-pong table.
The following day our desire to explore possibilities at higher elevations finds us at a tram station on the valley floor, equipment in hand, while thick clouds hang. The underground tram car will take us to the snow line. When we arrive at the top, the sun parts the veil, and the Alps are revealed in all their glory. A 360-degree view displays the region's largest peaks. This scene is mind-blowing for a crew of guys hailing from the East Coast. We put the pedal down, and Dylan, Marcus, and Brian demonstrate their unique carves, honed on Yawgoo's couple hundred feet of vertical, with a different backdrop, at higher speeds. Once in the lodge, we discover what proper European après is all about.
Thirty minutes down the road from The Mothership is Nassfeld, another large yet under-the-radar resort. Located on Austria's southern border, you can step into Italy at the top of the mountain. Joined by a local crew of newfound friends we've met throughout out week between The Moonshot Facility and through Friedl, Nassfeld is the location we'll shoot at for the last two days of our trip. Sidehits are endless, the terrain park is well-built, lifts are plentiful, and a top-to-bottom run takes 40 minutes even when nuking. This place, with this crew, is paradise.
Before packing up on the last day we head back for one more session at The Moonshot Facility. We slap goodbye high fives with a crew of young local kids that has been riding with us the whole time, each of them without even a year of experience on a snowboard. But Friedl Kolar is their English teacher, and they'll ride here every day now. They've never had a park this close to home. What we just helped to build is now theirs. This is their Yawgoo Valley.