When it comes to selecting the range of equipment we offer, it won’t surprise you to know that many hours of decision making are involved. Back and forth, everything from technical specification to colour ranges are considered, to make sure we deliver the best possible selection.
A few weeks ago, Mark Harries (snowboard Hardware Buyer) and Mike Goff (Online Content Manager) headed over to Kaunertal in Austria with a number of our friends and colleagues, to test out all of next season’s 2012/13 kit. Sounds like an easy life, right? For many, this would seem a dream job… But is it all play and no work?
“It’s a great event for staff to get clued up on what’s new and wind down from a long season selling kit in store and online,” says Mark. “It’s important that after talking about snowboarding all season long you get some snow time in, test the new technologies and gather as much info as possible from the brands”.
Day 1 of the trip got off to an overcast start, with the guys taking a car drive (backed by a soundtrack of Elvis’ Suspicious Minds) to the mid station before getting a lift the rest of the way. Once at their destination, they were able to take a good look at around 5 boards – Mike concentrating on the Ride and Burton stands whilst getting his boarding legs back. In spite of the weather, you can’t go to a place like Kaunertal without being struck by the geography, as Mike explains.
“Taking the gondola to the top of the hill, you leave Austria for a small moment and stand in Italy. Once strapped back into Austria, there are some really nice long runs down to the mid station, the wind really blowing the cobwebs out of you!”
The Kaunertal trip is an event set up for UK retailers and most snowboard brands are represented. So what were the stand-out products as far as the guys were concerned? For Mark, the K2 Slayblade was a highlight; Mike fell in love with the Ride Buckwild – “a super fun and stable board; aimed at the intermediate to advanced, it will take everything you throw at it. I wanted to ride it all day!”
Day 2 looked much more promising, as far as the weather was concerned. Glorious sunshine greeted our intrepid testers as they viewed the webcam footage on the television, the perfect start to a day spent off piste with K2 boards strapped to their feet. Clearly they had a great time of it – using the Slayblade, Mark’s GPS reading showed a speed of 64mph at one point! The feedback was unanimous – if a rider wants something to get them from A to B as fast as possible, this is the board for them.
And so it was that Day 3 crept up… with more Elvis accompanying the lads up the hill for a final time. This last day was a chance to get in some serious boarding time; DC were putting on a slope style comp elsewhere on the mountain, so they had the hill virtually all to themselves.
Having also managed to squeeze in time for a few cheeky après beers by way of seeing off another winter season (well, you would, wouldn’t you?), thoughts soon turned to adventures yet to come. The question is, what’s next
Mark says he plans to make another trip to Japan because it’s such a great overall experience and “the powder is simply incredible and there is a certain magical aspect about the place”.
As for Mike, he’ll be getting on his bike this summer, before looking to get away for the winter, either in Austria or France.
Keep an eye out for new releases in coming months, both here and on our Facebook page; we’ll be sharing more pictures and insights ahead of the new season just as soon as we can!