17/11/2010 | by Uli Köhler
Published in Onboard Magazine Issue 117, November 2010
WORDS: TOM COPSEY
Snowboarding’s most clichéd statement is also its most accurate. “It’s all about having fun with your friends,” is a phrase you’ll have heard regurgitated by a never-ending cascade of fresh young riders, travel-worn pros and marketing managers, but despite having heard this mantra chanted over and over the pure truth of it remains, miraculously, untainted. It’s why we all started; it’s why we spend every spare moment chasing weather systems, kipping in cars and selling our bodies to science. A crew of buddies, a hill, some snow, and all of a sudden nothing else matters.
Sat in the bar after a day of pre-season shralping, it was this stoke of riding together that convinced buddies Alvaro Vogel, Rene Schnoller, Lisa Filzmoser, Filippo Kratter and Nicolas Wolken to pool their efforts and live that dream for the season. Their goal was to be able to spend the winter on their own terms – simply riding together for the fun of it regardless of snow and weather conditions that usually have to be perfect for shooting. They’d travel together, shred together, document their adventures and release the resulting movies online. It was to be the good old-fashioned DIY ethos transposed into 21st century web 2.0 internetosphering. True Colors was born.
With conditions far from good around their Austrian HQ, master organiser Alvaro set about finding somewhere with better prospects, one hand on the keyboard scouring the internet weather forecasts and the other pressing a cellphone to his ear, gassing with buddies across Europe about where might get the goods. The word from both the notoriously unreliable internet and more reliable local, Fillippo Kratter, was that northwest Italy was set to receive an express delivery of 50cms of god’s dandruff. And with that the first of their trips was on.
The internet said the drive was a quick one. Yeah right. Six cramped hours later and the crew rolled into the Aosta valley and the resort of La Thuille. “La Thuile is one of those small villages with one supermarket, a pharmacy, a couple of houses and one huge hotel with different blocks making it like a little village itself,” remembers Alvaro. “The first surprise was that we booked an apartment for six persons and we only had four beds. So our Italian buddies Filippo and Arturo (our filmer), who are always late, had to arrange their room in the kitchen.”
That didn’t stop most of the road-weary crew from getting a good night’s kip, so feeling refreshed the next morning they made their way up to explore the terrain. “The whole area looked amazing!” Alvaro grinned. “So many fun windlips, drops and kicker spots, but unfortunately it was just too windy and the forecasted 50cm of pow had a little delay.” Filippo, feeling a little rough still from the long drive and sleeping under the sink, decided the Baltic blasts and crappy conditions were a sign to bolt. “The snow is older than my Grandma,” you could hear him shout as he fought the icy gusts to make his way down. Undeterred, the rest of the crew headed lower, out of the wind and into the trees, where they set about breaking their project’s cherry – René bouncing down some small pillows, Lisa dropping between trees and Alvaro riding some tight tree runs.
Their luck with conditions showed no sign of improving on the second day. The strong wind wasn’t letting up and the predicted 50cm dump was still nowhere to be seen, but rather than bitching they made the most of what was there. “We found this natural iced bank next to the slope,” remembers Alvaro. “Riding close to the slope is always funny because you get all kinds of different people watching: little kids hyped from the action, old skiers complaining about something, probably just because we have more fun than them.” They also discovered a particular quirk of Italian ski resorts – they have police. Yep, it’s not uncommon for the 5-0 to cruise the mean white streets of Italy but fortunately for the crew the ones they encountered were on a ‘protect and serve’ tip. “Thank god they were really nice and managed the traffic around our spot,” Alvaro chuckled.
Although they were fortunate with the boys in blue, Alvaro was to bear the brunt of Lady Luck’s mood swings as he popped his shoulder handplanting the ice bank. Having only just recovered from his second shoulder surgery in the last 18 months it meant not only was his session over, a third surgery beckons and he’d have to take it easy for the remainder of the season. Though he’s one of the most positive people you could meet, recouping in the cramped apartment it was hard for the crew not to think that the trip was jinxed.
TURN FOR THE BETTER
Three days in things began to look up. With stomach’s buoyed by a fine Italian brekkie and the bitter gusts being replaced by a warm breeze they headed over to a spot they’d spied and shaped a jump over a tunnel with some serious Wu-Tang on it. Although the snow had still failed to materialise the warm wind and good weather gave the session that epic spring-like vibe and moods started to improve immediately. By the time they’d finished for the day and were enjoying fine pizza, finer wine and even finer Amaro, the skies opened and it started puking, turning up the crew’s motivation levels for the rest of the trip.
Come daybreak they awoke to find it had dumped all night and pow was just begging to be ripped. Finally, this was what they’d dreamt of back on the glacier. Hooting like draft dodgers on acid, they fired themselves at everything they found, taking untold faceshots and stomping into nice deep landings. By the time their legs gave out it was already dark, but you could still see the powder grins on everyone’s faces glowing like cats’ eyes in the gloom.
With three days in La Thuile under their belts, a change of scenery was needed. Blitzing the motorway Italian-style meant before they knew it they were in Bardonecchia and receiving a warm welcome from Poldo and Erika from Facciosnao, who’d arranged for everything to run smoothly on their arrival. “The snow was good,” Alvaro said. “Maybe not that much as in La Thuile, but the terrain and the bluebird made everyone one happy.” The warm up in La Thuile served them well and straight off the bat they were on fire, hiking anything they found and dropping everything in sight – natural terrain freestyling their way across the terrain of the Italian alps for the remaining days.
With the project’s first trip ticked off, the footage logged and cut, the edit documenting their efforts was uploaded to their website – truecolorfilms.com. “The internet’s the best distribution method,” Alvaro believes. “Doing it this way means we can reach the core audience as well as the nerds, and the riders get a lot more exposure than on a DVD.” It’s also instantaneous, feeding the need of armies of eager punters for whom waiting 6 months is not an option.
The pattern continued as they continued their adventures to Japan and back to Austria. Though it was a steep learning curve and a succession of injuries prematurely curtailed the project, they were stoked with the outcome and have already decided to do it again, adding a couple of riders and continuing to blog, post outtakes and full clips, all with the same M.O. – “It’s all about having fun with your friends.”