Legends meeting, Jochpass, Germany.
An atypical noise filled the German village of Bad Hindelang in the usually quiet recreation area of Ostrach Valley on Saturday October 6th. The noise was produced by around 240 cars and motorbikes, that started in the village centre of Bad Hindelang for the annual Jochpass Memorial Race.
The race takes the participants 7 km up a mountain road with an incredible 104 turns! The mountain pass called “Jochpass” was blocked to regular traffic for the whole weekend, so the Longboarders and Lugers of the surrounding Allgäu region took this chance to organize a Longboarding event on the side of the car race.
For the 8th time, they agreed with the organizers of the car race to use the breaks of the race to freeride one of the most beautiful
mountain passes in Germany – downhill of course. And the opportunities to skate this road are very rare. Usually, heavy traffic and blind corners make skating here very dangerous. We Longboarders only play a minor role at this event and are more considered
part of the show program around the Jochpass Memorial, therefore only 3- 4 runs per day could be skated. But they were totally worth it.
Stand up riders can go down 6.5 km including 8 hairpins with around 40-50 km/h without actually breaking. On the final 500 m straight the riders can accelerate up to 82 km/h as reached by Max Stamler in 2009. But only, if the riders are still able to do so. After 6 minutes tucking down the road, with only slightly carving in front of the corners, most riders are not capable to hold the tuck for the final 500 meters. At least not in the 2nd or 3rd run of the day. However, no one is interested in breaking speed records at this event. It was just too much fun to find good lines and surf down the road while enjoying the beautiful Alpine landscape in the surprisingly hot autumn sun. No need to mention that all 30 riders were totally stoked at the finishing line after these runs.
The time for longboarders on the track is limited and safety measurements were fit for cars and not for Downhill skateboarding. Therefore the organizing Allgäu Longboard Club usually invites a limited number of experienced riders to participate in this freeride. This year the club’s president Mathias ‘Matz’ Fink had something special in mind. He invited mainly very experienced riders. And by very experienced riders I mean riders who already took part in the first set of Jochpass Freerides that were held 8
years ago. There, some similarity to the car race showed up, where only cars or motorbikes built in 1979 or earlier were allowed to take part.
Hardly any skater or luger that was born after this year could be found among the participants. The average age was estimated to be around 35, an age that would hardly be reached at any downhill event these days.
Some of the riders had more than a decade of downhill experience. And next to some legendary race cars on the Jochpass Memorial Race, some legends of downhill skating and luging could be spotted at the Freeride. Riders that are not active at today’s race circuit anymore, like the 2002 stand up IGSA world cup series winner Werner Bücherl and 2008 street luge world champion
Luckily Matz Fink was still in contact with most of his skating buddies from back in the days. Back then, there were hardly more than 30 people practising downhill skateboarding and luging. Therefore this years ‘meeting of the legends’ was like a family meeting. Most of the riders hadn’t seen each other for a long time and used the long breaks between the runs to laugh about common memories and update themselves on which directions their old buddies lead their lives. And there was much to tell and remember, as the common memories in some cases went back until the legendary Kaunertal Races in Austria. But still, the greatest pleasure for all riders were the long runs with old friends on one of the most beautiful tracks in Germany.
Words: Sebastian Altenhöfer & Gordon Timpen (originally published in German www.langbrettmagazin.de)
Pics: Mr. Bookwood / www.mr-bookwood.com