The 14th edition of the Longboard Classic in Stuben/ Arlberg set a new record in visitors: 440 participants were registered, although numbers don’t really count for much at this event. Much more important is the get-together of the snowboard – freeride community, celebrating the past season as much as the good old times! Even Tom Sims was invited this year and had already confirmed his attendance before he passed away from heart failure last September, as most of you will know. So in memorial, the whole event was dedicated to him and he surely rode down the Albona face with all of us from high above!
And this infamous run was experienced even more vividly this year, thanks to the incredible weather and snow conditions. Like this participant accurate put it: “Even if you could have wished for perfect conditions, you could not have dreamed up more perfect ones!“ In the night from Friday to Saturday, right before the event, a good 15cm of fresh dumped on an almost untracked base. And since the sight has been so poor, no one had done the “contest” run down the Albona to Stuben in the previous days. So when the sun came out on Saturday morning it was clear immediately that you can hardly hit it any better!
The warm temperatures also forced the organizers to kick off the race bang on time at 12noon – but only after judging legend Dani “Kiwi” explained the course through his megaphone. With the Masters Men followed by Masters Girls starting in the first two rounds, all “serious” contestants were down the hill in no time, leaving the rest of the face to all the fun. And so the Old Schooler Men and Women charged, wobbled, rolled, slid and carved down the hill in a colorful bunch of about 300 shred heads that were greeted and high-fived by organizer Paul Gruber in the valley.
Afterwards the groups spread as they pleased. Some headed back up the lift to enjoy some spring slush or stack up on powder runs in the very top 500 height meters, while others worked on perfecting their chill-out skills in the sun. And also the families, who are becoming more and more frequent every year, were catered for and joined the frolic atmosphere, that spawned spontaneous side events such as the “Fun Shred – who can ride the longest without bindings?”. In the mean time the snowboard museum showcased a special exhibition on Craig Kelly, including all snowboard models he ever rode. And the test booths of the participating brands sported all kinds of BBQs and goodboards even cut a huge cake to celebrate the day – made by owner Maik himself! In the afternoon Paul Gruber rocked three songs with his band A NUDE A, before Muha took over the stage and had the tranquil Stuben headbang to their beats.
By 4pm the time had come for the inevitable award ceremony, which is always a highlight thanks to Kiwi’s authentic presenting. But even after that went down, people stuck around the event area until the sun disappeared and the LBC community spread apart. Only to reassemble in the festival tent a few hours later, of course.
Starting off with a video obituary on “the One and Only” Tom Sims by snowboard legend Bob Klein, as well as on Craig Kelly, whose death had shocked the snowboard world 10 years ago. Afterwards some special gems from Bob Klein’s and Paul Gruber’s private snowboard movie archives were screened. But video night soon turned into a raging party that, once again, lasted until the wee hours of the next day, thanks to the tunes of Mortal Kombat Sound and Ucee!
What’s left to say?! An event like Longboard Classic, with so much soul and such little commerce is hard to put in words. – It’s something you have to experience live and once you have, you will know why so many of the participants have centered their whole lives on snowboarding.
So mark down the date for the 15th anniversary of LBC ASAP, which will be back in Stuben at the Arlberg on April 5th 2014!