The Freeride Festival in the heart of the Austrian Silvretta
Once again, the “Back on Track – Feel Free Ride Contest” at the Saarbrücker Hut in the Silvretta exceeded all expectations!
38 skiers and snowboarders met in Partenen at Friday morning to hike together to the high alpine mountain hut, which was very well prepared for the weekend by hosts Sabine and brother Bertram.
Since the Back On Track is not only about the contest, but rather to spend time with a community of like minded people, riders afterwards gathered in small groups to shred different lines around the hut as warm-up sessions for the following day. The riders who took it a bit more easy, enjoyed the view of the Litzner Glacier and participated in the LVS Safety Session powered by Pieps.
Despite the meager winter the organizing team together with Montafon Mountain Guides Lukas Kühlechner and Jonny Marinac managed to select a new and above all secure contest face. The Winterberg near the Litzner Sattel offered perfect conditions and thus became the fifth slope within 5 years!
At the presentation of the face and prior safety meeting, the anticipation of the riders grew and excited discussions to the best lines followed. Beside all the excitement, tension was in the air as the riders would only see the contest face for the first time the following day.
The challenging face impressed
On Saturday the contest was on the agenda and the weather report held what it promised, bright blue skies over the whole Silvretta. After an 1 hour ascent to the Litzner Sattel it was time, the winterberg was directly in front of the riders. The challenging face impressed: rock-pierced passages alternated with steep chutes, long- drawn ridges and wide snow fields.
Before the participants continued to the start it was time for the riders meeting and face check where hazardous areas were pointed out and out of bounds zones were explained. After another hour of ascent, all 38 starters were on the summit of the Winterberg and the contest could begin.
The riding level was extremely high this year and so an outstanding freeride spectacle followed with fat powder turns, creative lines and big jumps. Each starter got cheered on by the spectators and the other riders at the start and finish, vibes were definitely really good.
Unfortunately, the first helicopter rescue mission in 5 years took place aswell. A skier crashed in the lowest part of the face and sustained injuries to the upper body. The professional organization however allowed for a quick initial treatment by the members of the Partenen mountain rescue team and the two mountain guides as well as a smooth transport.
In the evening the organizers had a big surprise for the riders when they announced that this year the judging will be held by the riders themself. So all the lines of the day were screened on the big wall, rewatched and judged. The mood was peaking and they celebrated each other extensively!
Riders Judging as a big surprise
In the end Franz-Josef Meyer (ski) and the local boy Thomas Kessler (snowboard) left the strongest impression among all competitors.
In the first time ever ladies overall category (ski and snowboard) Hanna Finkel saved the top spot ahead of 7 other girls.
The organizing team around Bernhard Fink, Raphael Öttl, Samuel Schuler and Andreas Portenschlager would like to thank all participants and contributors for their incredible commitment and the unique atmosphere, they make the Back On Track the very special event it is!
Many thanks also to the loyal sponsors Intersport Montafon-Rankweil-Dornbirn, Arc’teryx, Jones Snowboards, Black Crows, SP, Pieps, Clif Bar, Contour, Raiffeisenbank Bludenz- Montafon, Rhomberg, Illwerke Tourism and Montafon Tourism for the great support, Without them this event would not be possible!