You could be forgiven for thinking Innsbruck was a quaint little city. From the pretty cobbled streets in the old town to the dashing young waiters serving local beers in their lederhosen, the city epitomises Alpine charm. But take a trip to the Bergisel ski jump stadium this weekend and you will see a whole different side to the Tyrolean capital. The dashing young waiters are swapping their lederhosen for baggy pants and a beanie: Air+Style is in town.
Since the first contest in 1994 (when thousands of fans turned up to see their favourite riders, instead of the expected few hundred), Tyrol’s biggest ski and snowboard competition has grown to one of the most important in the freestyle calendar. The event has been tried out in other much bigger cities, like Munich, Beijing and the upcoming contest in LA, but there’s something special about Innsbruck that means the organisers keep coming back, this year for the twelfth time.
So what is it about this small city that makes it the snowsports capital of Europe? Well the proximity to the mountains is an obvious factor. With the Nordkette funicular you can go from the city centre to the pistes in roughly twenty minutes – about the average waiting time for a gondola in some resorts! Many of the big names of freestyle snowboarding and skiing, including Armada and snowboarding pioneers Burton, all have their European headquarters in the city. And the large university means there’s always fresh blood hitting the local slopes, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with a second hand board and a self made kicker and creating new styles in the process. Spend enough time in the Nordkette fun park and you might just see the next Shaun White or Travis Rice in action.
It’s this spirit of adventure, sitting comfortably alongside the city’s more traditional characteristics, that makes it the perfect venue for Air+Style. It combines the convenience of a city with the free living attitude of the mountains, so no matter which larger and grander cities come long, there will always be a spot in the Air+Style heart for Innsbruck.