By Leah Stassen
The morning of my second day in Austria started early. Thanks to jet lag I woke up with the sunrise coming up over the Alps out my window. With two hours until breakfast, I worked for a while before stretching out. Nothing like a little Yoga to make me realize I was slightly regretting the drinks from last night.
Gary Samer, product manager at Atomic Austria, knocked on my door at half past six and asked me to be downstairs for breakfast at seven. The breakfast looked good, it was kind of a mix between lunch food and the continental breakfasts found here in the U.S. consisting of a buffet made up of bread rolls, cold meats, cheese, hardboiled eggs, cereal, yogurt, and a mixed fruit bowl. Over breakfast we discussed the future facing Atomic as a snowboard brand, knowing the popularity of Oxygen in Europe, yet lack of widespread recognition in the United States. Chris O’Donoghue pointed out that while the brand does have an increased challenge outside of Europe, the company hopes a new marketing drive from the U.S. will help overcome that barrier.
After breakfast, Jimmy and I assembled our borrowed snowboard gear and the with Chris and Gary hopped into the Atomic van, to head up to the Hintertux Glacier located about 20 kilometers from Mayrhofen. Once at the base area, Gary provided us with our lift access cards and we were off on gondola rides to the top.
The glacier is only accessible through three gondolas, and in order to reach the SPC Park you also had to ride a long T-bar surface lift. At the park kids were going off everywhere, there were several sets of huge jumps, quarterpipes, rainbow-rails, funboxes, and even a superpipe. Campers were able to take a break from riding, hang out, and enjoy the scenery in an area complete with a DJ, snowboard waxing station, picnic tables, and reclining chairs.
While the group rode around on Atomic boards, Jimmy held a photo session with the Atomic and Oxygen teams. Gary and I took a couple of runs down the glacier during the photo session. Although it is not good to test a snowboard in borrowed boots and bindings I did notice a few things about the board. The most obvious difference about the Atomic brand was the sidecut of the board, which both Jimmy and I commented on. Gary later explained it to be a “super-pipe” sidecut with a smaller radius in the tip in tail of the board, while still using a twin tip design with a directional cut. Even in boots that were a size to big, I felt a difference.
All good things have to end, and we left the glacier around one o’clock, as Curt, Gary, and Chris, Jimmy, and I had dinner plans near the Atomic Factory in a 1,000 year-old castle. It was crazy. The castle was built on this huge rock, basically on its own mini-mountain overlooking a river and into the neighboring valleys. Inside we ate a medieval type meal, and were only allowed a knife for silverware. What made the experience especially fun was attempting to follow all the rules/games in place. If you failed there were medieval shackles and jail for punishment. Needless to say, Curt Hulst was unsuccessful. First getting thrown in the jail for accidentally using the ladies bathroom instead of the men’s, and then getting the shackles for playing with his knife. Even so, it didn’t stop him from eating his chicken—turns out he was dying to find it all week—Hulst just slipped his wrists through the shackles.
The dinner lasted four hours. In addition to the five of us, there was a table of Danes who were also amused, but the group of 30 Chinese people present did not understand English or German. The language barrier left them completely confused by our antics. Overall, between the many broken rules, games, pranks, jokes, songs, and toasts it was a completely entertaining medieval meal. We all left with full bellies, ready to wrap up our trip with the tour of the Atomic factory in the morning.