Each year several contests take place in the Absolut Park in Flachauwinkl — some for enthusiastic youngsters, some for the international free ski and snowboard elite. But what lies behind the scenes of such a sporting event? Probably more than you think…
At the beginning of January it’s time for the Jib King: a contest for freeskiers and snowboarders from the region and at the same time the first event of the season in the Absolut Park. This year’s event attracted almost 100 sports enthusiasts with glorious sunshine and spring-like temperatures to the perfectly shaped Jib Park, where they showed off their creative runs and demanding trick combinations. I was also present – however, not on the obstacles in the park, but as part of the event team. What’s required to plan and organise a snowboard and freeski event, so that it’s a great event for all? I’ll take you behind the scenes.
The procedure for a snowboard contest
Even though the Jib King is a relatively small event, plenty of organization is needed and a number of points have to be considered during planning and implementation:
Whether to be “slopestyle” or “big air” contest is not the only decision, with regard to the competition format that has to be decided. Should the event be open to everyone, should registration be necessary in advance, which categories are to be judged?
Anyone can take part in the Jib King for example, registration takes place in resort on the day of the event itself. In order to make the judging as fair as possible, in addition to freeski and snowboard, contestants are split into a further four categories:
- Kids (under 12 years)
- Rookies (13-17 years)
- Men (over 18 years)
Of course the best in each category are awarded great prizes, which also have to be organized in advance. But what else happens behind the scenes at the Jib King?
Shape crew and park setup
- The “shape crew“ are most important, they ensure that before and during the contest the park is in top condition.
- Various obstacles — such as kickers, rails, boxes etc., over which the contestants jump or ski – should also be available for varying ability levels, so that all participants can show a good run and are challenged yet don’t feel over taxed.
- A team consisting of three judges per type of sport (freeski and snowboard) is the rule, so in this case there were a total of six. They judge the versatility of the tricks shown in each run and how stylish and clean they were.
- Helpers at the start are important too, they pass on the name and bib number of the next starter to the the judges and take care that nobody sets off whilst someone is still on the course or the last run is being judged.
Here in the Absolut Park we set great store by professional photos and videos, which is why there is a large media crew present at even the smaller events. At the Jib King there were:
- Two people filming the best tricks and the contest in general.
- One person filming with a drone, filming the final from above.
- A photographer taking pictures of the best tricks on the various obstacles.
- A PR representative, who collects all important information during and after the contest (the tricks and ranking by the judges, commentaries about the contestants, photos and videos) and issues a press release on the same day.
Entertainment at the event
- One or two entertaining speakers, who commentate the event for the audience.
- A DJ, who ensures suitable accompanying music (in our case hip hop and electro).
- Turntables and loudspeakers, which are set up outdoors, to ensure a good sound.
- A team responsible for the accreditation, which hands out the bibs and noting the names, “stance“ and category of the contestants and passes this information on to the judges in good time and answers all the contestants‘ queries.
- Organizers to close off the park for the contest, to provide refreshment for the participants and to ensure everything runs (more or less) according to plan.
- Helpers to sort out the prizes and to hand them over at the prize giving ceremony.
- A cash desk team that is well briefed and sends the participants to the correct part of the park.
Event work is multitasking
Here at the Absolut Park most team members undertake several taks – firstly because we are a conpact team and secondly because we don’t like to be put into categories. We are real freestylers. My task, in addition to press work, is also the accreditation and a few other organizational things.
As I have already helped plan and experienced two Spring Battles — a contest with elite skiers, which lasts almost a week – a Jib King is easy peasy for me. The main thing is to remain flexible.
And if things don’t go to plan
In spite of all preparations unforeseen circumstances can happen at events. This time there was a major traffic jam on the Tauern motorway, which led to part of the team and the majority of the contestants arriving over 50 minutes late in the park.
In such cases you just have to improvise, change the time plan and pass on the information to all workers, participants and spectators. We are a well-rehearsed team, that doesn’t get easily rattled by small challenges and we finished the Jib King punctually with the prize giving ceremony in spite of the traffic jam.
The Jib King in pictures
You can see what a freestyle contest looks like in the photo gallery.
Photo credits: Absolut Park, Shuttleberg