It's Friday, the sun breaks through the clouds, the snow crunches under your boots, Sebastian Goller stomps to the chairlift. The young freeskier should not and may not waste any time, it is the last day of practice before the infamous "Sick Trick Tour" contest starts in Kitzbühel. Why is he not at school on weekdays? Well, that’s exactly where he is. The Pinzgauer from Neukirchen, a village located in the area of the Großvenediger, is professionally trained in the field “freestyle” at the ski school in Saalfelden - during winter, the mountain is his classroom... "Sebi Goller is a great guy, he's one of the youngest riders in our ski club. I've known him for quite a long time; as I have already observed him earlier, I’ve seen his potential right away. Two years ago, it was finally time to bring him to our club. I’m satisfied with the training progress over the past years… there is still more to come! He is now 17 years old, a good age for achieving an international rider level." Patrick Hollaus, freeski coach of the Kitzbüheler Ski Club (K.S.C.) proudly tells of his protégé. The former pro rider and triple Austrian freeski champ is still active in the scene between Salzburg and Tyrol. His focus today, however, is to promote young talents in the region around the Snowpark Kitzbühel. He himself had little help: "During my time, there were no coaches... it was a bit different back then. We were just like friends, snowboarders and skiers. Today, the riders are focusing on the competition. I think that coaching is a positive development in the scene, because when I was injured at the time... this accident might not have happened if I had a coach." After his injury break, Patrick Hollaus turned away from active riding into coaching. Anyone stepping into this scene without a coach cannot go much further nowadays. Freestylers need a perfectly shaped park and a coach to succeed in their career as sure as eggs is eggs. Sebastian is already lapping through the park. As he aims at winning the comp tomorrow, his expectations are high. However, he does not really seem to be under tension at all. „For me personally, park riding is just fun, I live for the moment and forget everything around me. This gives me the freedom to be myself, ride how I want to and to have my own style. I like being outside and not only sitting indoors playing computer or anything else. What I love the most is being outdoors and transforming my hobby into a career.” Yet, the last day of training is not an ordinary session with friends. Sebi fine-tunes his tricks and picks up tips from his coach. "Safety first" is his advice for solid runs. "On a training day I always try to be as early on the mountain as possible and benefit from riding the whole day in order to collect as many runs as possible and to get more and more confident. Today I will be focusing on kickers. To check whether they are poppy or flat, I will practice some straight airs and speed checks. I need to find the right tune so that there is no danger for me. Then I do some 3s and after some time, the tricks will get better and better." The greatest dream of the 17- year-old is to make an international career as a freeski pro. But everything in the right order, it’s now time to concentrate on tomorrow’s contest.
Sick Trick Tour’s called on!
In the morning, still surprised by snowfall, the sun comes out again soon at the Snowpark Kitzbühel. Organizers and shapers have been working for a few hours and both the contest setup and the rest of the infrastructure are perfectly prepared for the riders. The origin of the "Sick Trick Tour" was for very different reasons and without the professional background of today. It was the first time that a snowpark came into existence and the "setup" back then was specifically built for the contest. "We shoveled our first kicker into the snow with the help of 10 people. Nobody thought of building a landing back then, this has changed a lot in the last years. The kids of today can consider themselves very lucky to have such an offer of diverse playgrounds. I hope that they will not seize to just go out into nature to build small kickers." Co-organizer Lisi Obermoser's eyes still sparkle like on the first day when she talks about the tour that she launched 15 years ago together with Flo Hasenauer and Max Schirmeisen. "At that time, the aim of the contest was mainly to spend time together, have fun, organize a barbecue in the mountains, perform a nice jump and maybe get a few pictures of it." While Lisi is stomping through the backcountry, Sebastian is already standing in the line-up with his friends, discussing the tricks he wants to stick today. The contest setup consists of three kickers (9m, 11m, 13m) that guarantee great jumps on the kicker line. On the rail line, optimally shaped obstacles, such as an elbow (9m), a flat-down (8m) and a down rail (8m) are waiting for the riders. His starting number 191 is supposed to bring good luck – and to get closer to his dream of a professional freeski career. The judges at the tower oversee the whole Snowpark Kitzbühel and thus show no mercy at their duty. Every mistake is noted and recorded. Sebastian is not entirely satisfied with his performance on the rails, a little bit disappointed, but still relieved at the end of the day: "Now I feel good. Fifth place in the championship, runner-up in the Kitzbühel Ski Club ranking and I won the award for Best Trick. My run was actually quite good, could have been better, because I could not stick my tricks on the rails. Next time, I’ll do better. It’s definitely been a lot of fun." Well, and that's what it’s all about – now and back then…
Whether you are working on a career as professional freestyler or maybe just want to ride the park, please check out the information on the Snowpark Kitzbühel website, the Facebook Page and via Instagram. Feel invited to discover even more (shredweather, setup information, updates, pics, videos) in the snowpark app for iOS and Android.
All Fotos by Roland Haschka and Alex Mattersberger; Video by Sebastian Funk.