Snowboarding in Bavaria
Think of Munich and it's likely that lederhosen and giant beer mugs come to mind. But by hosting the X Games for the next three years, the home of Oktoberfest also seeks to be known as Germany's premiere action-sports city. The first X competitions sold out immediately and you can feel the anticipation as the event draws near. Although skateboards and bikes will be the focus next week, let's not forget about another sport that has chosen Munich as its German capital: snowboarding.
Basti Rittig, Bavarian Backcountry
Bordering Switzerland, Austria and France -- the three most popular winter-sports countries in Europe -- Germany is often forgotten when it comes to powder and halfpipes. Considering resort sizes and elevations, the statistics do favor its neighbors, but Germany has a long tradition in snowboarding and a respectable scene that should not be underestimated.
When it comes to numbers, the Zugspitze, at 2,962 meters (9,717 feet), is Germany's highest mountain. (To be fair, it is situated right at the German-Austrian border and also has a gondola going up from the Austrian side). Located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, only an hour from Munich, it is often called the city's "home mountain."
Werni Stock, Zugspitze
The Zugspitze played an important role in pushing snowboarding in Europe by hosting the GAP 1328 Summer Camp from 1998 to 2005 (GAP being the abbreviation for Garmisch-Partenkirchen and 1328 being the founding year of Augustiner beer.) Offering one of the best halfpipes and terrain parks back then, as well as legendary parties, it drew local Munich legends like David Benedek and Nicola Thost (snowboarding's first Olympic gold medalist), as well as young up-and-coming international riders like Eero Ettala.
Alex Tank, Oberstdorf
The end of GAP camp was a rough blow to the local scene, especially because it meant the loss of Germany's only halfpipe, which sent riders into exile in Innsbruck, Austria. But two years ago PipeAid, a non-profit started by snowboarders, managed to bring a pipe back to Germany. It is now located at Nebelhorn, Oberstdorf, roughly two hours from Munich, where there's also a respectable street snowboarding scene. It's no surprise that Alex Tank, one of Germany's best jib kids, grew up there.
Michi Zirngibl, Duisburg
The serious lack of resorts in the northern part of Germany doesn't keep people from snowboarding. During a good season, southerners, like Munich's Michi Zirngibl, will travel there to explore urban features in winter-sport-resistant areas like Duisburg.
André Tröltzsch, Munich
With a decent snowfall, Munich itself offers a plethora of urban snowboarding features. Locals often hit spots in their neighborhoods, despite the fact that Bavarian police are well known for keeping the city ber-safe. (Just recently I got a ticket for speeding -- on a bicycle!)
Marco Smolla, Munich
Marco Smolla, a Nitro and Red Bull pro, set up a whole weekend of street snowboarding in his hometown of Munich in 2010, hitting pretty much everything from historic buildings to the Eisbach river. (Yes, the one downtown with the standing wave that people surf.) This photo is from that shoot.
Xaver Hoffmann, Raisting
Xaver Hoffmann, German snowboard pioneer, pipe legend and Garmisch local, explores Munich's outskirts after a big snow dump.
Markus Keller, Zugspitze
Being strategically located near the Alps and offering an international airport, Munich is home to many European brand headquarters like Nitro, K2 and Ride, as well as the three biggest German snowboard magazines (Pleasure, MBM and Onboard). It is also host of ISPO, the international winter-sports tradeshow, which draws more than 2,000 exhibitors, media and riders. There is usually a huge snowfall around the same time as ISPO, which is nice.
Basti Rittig, Spitzingsee
As there are half a dozen small and fun resorts near the city (such as Spitzingsee, within a one-hour drive), there are many options to go for an early-morning shred session and make it back to work before lunch -- not only for tradeshow visitors, but for every Munich resident.
Benny Urban, Munich
In closing, Munich isn't so bad as a winter destination. Luckily it's also well prepared to host the X Games, as it's Europe's city with the most skateparks, and -- being the first and only X Games location that features mountain biking -- also offers fun, small mountain bike trails along the Isar river that start right downtown. And for those who still want to stick to their snowboards in the summer: If you're prepared to jump in the river, Munich is even good for a real summer shred. (Just make sure the rowers don't get in your way.)