Words & Photos: Noah Wallace
Last week I was given the unique privilege to get up on the Stubai Glacier for the first World Cup slopestyle event of the season. Even with the entire country of Austria currently in lockdown, organizers were still able to run the contest by creating a “bubble” for athletes and staff in the Stubai valley.
This zone featured a lot of COVID testing earlier in the week, and plenty of social distancing between the two main kinds of accreditation: Red and Blue passes. These passes weren’t just the golden ticket for getting on the gondola, but also informed organizers where you were allowed to be. Red areas were for athletes, coaches, and event organizers, whereas Blue areas were designated for media and additional event staff.
The feeling on the glacier was relaxed, but still a bit strange, with eyes always watching to make sure you were wearing a mask and maintaining distance. As with any event, there were closed-off areas for athletes as well as an open area for spectators. However, since the Stubai Glacier is closed to the public until at least the end of November due to a national lockdown, the only spectators on hand were those who’d begun touring up at 7:00am. Thankfully for those who put in the extra effort to watch in person, the contest turned out to be a great show.
Here’s a photo gallery showing some of the vibes from this strange start to the 2020/21 FIS slopestyle season.