Late April Powder & Private Pipe Session

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The Tracking Eero crew was cut down in size significantly when we rolled onto Saas Fee, Switzerland from Laax for our next stop on the European Tour. The drive took us six hours and was quite the excursion, we took two different trains that let us load our cars on them to get through the passes.

Our first train had us buy a ticket and sit on the train, which was nice to watch the countryside go by, as well as letting our two young riders Kazuhiro Kukobu and Charles Reid catch up on some much needed rest. The second train you stayed in the car once it was loaded on the train, creating quite the scene in our vehicles.

Once we reached Saas Fee, the first thing you do is park your car and call your hotel for pick up, no cars are allowed in the town, pretty cool and very eco friendly. The first few nights we would be staying at the Hotel Dom where the riders stay when they come to Saas Fee. This is the town Freddie K. the badass backcountry ripper you see star in the Burton films every year, calls home.

Greg Martin from Friday Productions had already reached out to the tourism board at Saas Fee about our arrival and plans to shoot. Knowing we had a big day a head of us, we grabbed a late dinner and crashed.

The next day we meet up with Anja Roy head of PR & Events for Saas Fee Tourism, and Anja was amazing to work with. She took care of our lodging and needs in town. We then met up with Prisca the Marketing/Events person for Saas Fee the ski resort for lift tickets and to discuss a private pipe shoot. Wednesday our last day in town, looked to be the weather day. So, we lined up everything to go down on Wednesday. The rest of our Monday was spent doing work and shooting some lifestyle with Kazu and Charles.

On Tuesday morning we awoke to bluebird skies, not wanting to waste such a great day, Sandy and I grabbed the boys and shot lifestyle segments around town for a few hours. Then we headed up the two gondolas and one cable car to the top of Saas Fee. Upon arrival each one of us was winded, it was hilarious, after gathering our marbles we checked out the scenery and charged the open powder fields beneath us.

Line of the day went to Charles, “This is amazing, I didn’t think this was going to happen this year… my first powder day and it’s April 21st.” Gotta say the kid is lucky and not so lucky. Preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games has taken the fun out of snowboarding for some, but thankfully for kids like Charles they get to go on late season trips like this and shred powder in the Swiss Alps.

We spent the rest of the day ripping pow, throwing backflips, airing off any cat track we could find and checked out the pipe. The pipe needed work, but we were told everything would be dialed tomorrow.

Knowing we had another big day ahead of us, we went back to Hotel Dom to check out (they were closing for the season) and check into our new place, Hotel Marmotte, where Anja had booked us next. The owner was quite nice and dialed us in for the evening while we grabbed a tasty and delightful dinner down the street at Don Ciccio. We highly recommend this place to anyone that wants a truly authentic Italian meal in the Swiss Alps… keep in mind Italy is just over the other side of Saas Fee.

Wednesday came up fast and we were stoked to charge it, but before we headed up it was time to shoot some funny lifestyle segments. We had Kazu dress up in the original 70s outfit for the hotel and drive the electric cart around town with Charles. We then went to the gondola and packed it full of our camera gear and Marius’ paraglider gear.

Upon reaching the mid station we met up with our good friend Mathieu the chef who would be driving his Arctic Cat for us to shuttle the riders to the top of the pipe. A quick segment for the show with Mathieu as the local chef and we were off to the top.

The pipe needed some more work after the mountain received another few inches of snow. One phone call into Prisca and the pipe shaper was on his way up to the pipe to make a few extra passes and get the snow out of the flat bottom. Just as we were waiting a guy comes down the pipe to stop and talk to us, but catches his heel edge and backwards scorpions, breaking his collarbone. Not sure who the guy was, we ask the Park Manager, Dennis and he explains to us that was our shaper.

What horrible luck, not wanting to sit there and be bummed, we grab shovels and racks to clean up the pipe by hand. Within an hour the pipe is looking good and Prisca has sent up a cat to push snow out and roll down the decks to look pretty for the camera.

For the next six plus hours Kazu and Charles destroyed the pipe with an assortment of tricks on both walls. You could tell they were stoked to ride a soft pipe in such insane surroundings as the Swiss Alps.

Kazu was doing nasty frontside alley-oops, 16 foot method airs, mctiwts, 900 melon grabs and 540 indy grabs. Charles not to be out done, charged for an extra 30 minutes to nail the paraglider shots with huge frontside alley-oops of his own, 15 foot tail grabs, rodeos, backside 900s and 1080s with grabs.

The shoot rapped up at sunset just before 7pm as we all cruised down the mountain with our guide Dennis. Our day had provided so much fun in the sun and we were all exhausted. But we could not rest yet, as we needed to pick up all the paraglider gear, back up at the hotel, get a ride to our cars and then hit the road for Zurich so everyone could head onto there next destination. On our way out of town we ran into Anja and thanked her for everything and that we would all be back again soon.

Zurich was a long drive and involved another train ride, but we were all stoked to be heading to new locations. Kazu was off to Squaw and Northstar to film, Charles was heading home to Canada for a few days, Sandy and Mark were headed back to the UK, while Marius and Greg were driving to the next shoot in Norway.