Saturday night, an enthusiastic crowd of 10,000, a brightly lit track right through Bad Gastein and eighteen top-athletes going wild is what took place where Emperor Franz Josef and his Sissy once used to promenade. In the course of Salzburg’s absolute winter highlight, Red Bull PlayStreets 2011, the world’s foremost free skiers jumped into the track, took off from corners, jumped road gaps and slid over rooftops eager to show off their skill. Carried down by the cheering crowd, Elias Ambühl (SUI) spectacularly won the event. Best Austrian skier on the track was Luggi Brucic who came in fourth.
Franz Josef and Sissy wouldn’t have believed their eyes: free skiers from all over the world, from Australia to the US, heeded the call to take part in the Red Bull PlayStreets 2011 in Gastein. Right in the centre of the historical town a proper free skiing playground complete with step downs, corners, kickers, gap jumps and slides was prepared for the fearless riders. 500 truckloads of snow equalling 20,000 tons were needed to get ready for the event beforehand due to the mild weather.
After the qualification rounds, the best eight competed in “head-to-head” modus and, urged on by thousands of spectators filling the streets to the brim, showed off everything they had. The riders demonstrated unique skill and did breathtaking tricks for the crowd and judges, who assessed them according to style, creativity and execution of the runs.
After an exciting competition, Elias Ambühl from Switzerland triumphed over Antti Ollila (FIN) and Jossi Wells (NZL). Besides a Suzuki RMZ-450 Motocross Bike, he also got his own personal star on the Red Bull PlayStreets Walk of Fame amongst the winners of the previous contests. The other Austrians, Fabio Studer, Tobi Tritscher and local hero Patrick Hollaus, didn’t make it past the qualifying.
After the successful contest and the award ceremony presided over by vice governor Dr. Wilfried Haslauer, who attended the event despite an injury, the after-contest party in the Silverbullet and the surrounding pubs and clubs kicked off.