Sometimes the stars align and you realize, without even knowing it, that something was missing in your life. For me, I always thought of skiing in Europe as something that would be a great experience, but I didn't really know what I was missing. I kind of thought it would just be a gnarly long plane ride to do something I could do right in my back yard.
I was wrong.
From the jagged (skiable) peaks, to the incredible apres scene, skiing in Austria is something I won't soon forget.
I was lucky enough this past week to go to Austria with Fischer skis. I was invited by Matt Berkowitz and Erik Anderson at Fischer US to go with them — along with dealers and reps — to talk to the good folks at Fischer HQ in Ried, Austria about the 2012-2013 line, tour the factory, and spend two incredible days in the ski town of Obertauern, Austria.
While at HQ, we were privy to a demonstration of the new Fischer Boot Vacuum Fit technology.
The Vacuum Fit technology is designed to mold the actual shell of the boot to the skiers foot. Fischer developed a special material, NOT a traditional PU plastic used in other boots, to create the shell. This material is able to be heated and molded up to five times without losing any performance integrity.
This allows for any "problem" feet to be accommodated right from the get go without having to punch, shave, blow out or otherwise reduce the integrity of the boot.
The person who participated in the demonstration, for example, had heel spurs that more resembled golf balls protruding from the back of his foot. Once he stepped into the liner, the boot and had the shells heated and then cooled, the boots had a visible bump on the back, right where his heel spurs had been. Comfort and integrity saved by a mere fifteen minute process.
From there, we looked at new vacuum boot models we'll see in a year aimed more at the freeride market, checked out next years new ski line and graphics and had ourselves a tour of the incredible Fischer factory. What makes it incredible? For one, you will see absolutely no scraps or dust anywhere. Everything in the factory is 100-percent recycled back into power for the machines making the entire process a tight little unit. Not only that, but watching the numerous factory workers make world cup skis by hand is truly an inspiring process.
This guy knows what he's doing.
Once we saw how quickly the locals were able to whip up a pair of high-performance skis, we were given the opportunity to do so ourselves. We were slow, to say the least. But layering base, edge, glue, rubber, glue, wood, glue, fiberglass, glue, topsheet and then inserting it into the press and pulling out a pair of skis I made myself is an experience to be cherished for any lover of the sport.
Our stay in Ried complete, we took off to Obertauern where we were greeted by 20 cm of fresh snow to make sure we were able to truly appreciate everything the Alps had to offer.
No one in Europe skis off-piste (said in strong Austrian accent) so there was no hiking necessary to shred thigh deep pow. Exploring new ski areas is always fun, but exploring new ski areas in the Alps one ups it.
Speaking of one-upping… Austria knows how to apres. I think they may have invented apres. Think beer steins, shnapps, techno, dancing in ski boots on bars, swinging from rafters, karaoke, and hitting nails with a hammer all rolled into one yurt, and you'll have an idea of apres in Austria. One. Big. Party.