The park crew are especially good at introducing new elements in the pro lines. But what is there to do at the park if you are clueless when it comes to freeskiing and are just a normal “vanilla-skier” who has never dared jump a huge kicker? On a training day for the Mayrhofen Freeski Open, I visited the park with our editor-in-chief Elsabeth to take a closer look at the park.
Is "Backside Double 10" all jargon to you?
Good, then this is the article for you! First of all, I have to say that I am a classic skier. I started skiing at the age of 3 and, in my childhood and youth, would build kickers to jump over - I’m still pleased today that my parents knew nothing of this! Elisabeth, who also skis on the best “razor-sharp” carving skis, has a similar skiing background. Freesking á la Mayrhofen Freeski Open or the Penken Park is a step too far for us. What would we do in the park with our sporty ski clothes and hard racing ski boots? Surely, everyone would look at us as if we were an alien grandma and grandpa who got off the the wrong side of the ski lift! But no, not at all. It’s an utter misconception that freeskiers speak a language that we “classic skiers” no longer understand. Sure, when you get on the Sun-jet ski lift, the ski outfits of the skiers around you suddenly change. But, you’ll also discover a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. This is a place where the riders have turned the chill factor up high. And, something else is different. The park has its own sound system, not turned up really loudly, but the music has the effect of subtly changing your mood when you get off at the top of the lift.
The Pro-line is where it really goes down!
As I mentioned, we chose to visit the park on the training day for the Mayrhofen Freeski Open because the pro-line kickers are just a little bigger for the contest and the jumps a little higher and further. Elisabeth and I head directly into the pro-line and mingle with the international contestants. One after the other, relaxed and easy, they ride towards the kicker as if they were just out for a Sunday stroll. We wait by the kicker: a monster mound of snow, but shaped with such symmetry that its almost a work of art. Up close, we watch in awe as the pros fly at breathtaking height above our heads, doing amazing tricks and defying the laws of gravity.
Mobile out and camera on
What we witness is far removed from amateur sports. The freeskiers perform tricks such as double cork 360, x-grab and pretzel 270 on every kicker. For them its standard, but for us its sensational! Inspired and feeling brave, we also want to try out at least a small kicker. However, after a hard crash, we agree its better to stick to what you know! So, we get our smartphones out and shoot some video instead.
IS THE PENKEN PARK ALSO RECOMMENDED FOR NON-FREESKIERS?
Our conclusion is: yes, definitely! The relaxed atmosphere hits you at once. And, even if you don’t dare jump a kicker yourself, just riding through the park and finding a good spot to watch what these artists can do in the air, is totally worth it. If you’re lucky enough to have fantastic weather as we did, then it’s also a great place to take some holiday snaps and videos. Enter them into our photo competition and you could be in with the chance of winning something!