New for this winter the guys at Low Pressure Studios opened the Bataleon Mountain Lodge in the Austrian resort of Flachau. The purpose of the Lodge is to give retailers and media outlets a preview of next season’s kit and to allow them to test it out on-snow, providing a full-on brand experience. Report by SOURCE Editor, Harry Mitchell Thompson.
Bataleon have many strong stories to tell, ranging from their current marketing initiatives and board graphics through to the core structure of the brand, which is run by a close-knit group of friends and family who still love snowboarding as much now as they did when they started in the 90s. It’s in their lodge in Flachau that the brand feels they can best tell these stories.
Whereas a trade show can bring quantity, co-owner Dennis Dusseldorp tells me how the Bataleon Mountain Lodge was conceived by the company to help express just who the brand is to both media and retailers; providing the quality of a more personal experience. Dennis says that as fun the annual sales meeting is in Amsterdam, there’s a limit to how well you can get to know someone over a day of meetings and dinner in the evening. Point and case were the many chairlifts, lunches and lodge-downtime chats Dennis and I were able to share in Flachau.
Joining me at the Bataleon Mountain Lodge (BML) were UK snowboard retailer The Snowboard Asylum (TSA) who had a crew of team riders and shop staff there to shoot next winter’s catalogue. Representing TSA and also GB Park & Pipe were Jamie Trinder & Henry Shackleton to throw it down in the park and send it off backcountry features while Chamonix legend Tosh Mitsu was called upon to put down stylish turns and drop sizeable rocks in the name of “getting the shot.” All the action was snapped by the talented James ‘Northy’ North from the Reason Snowboard Magazine.
“Having the opportunity to be able to access some of the best riding terrain in Europe combined with getting your feet into new kit makes operations like the Bataleon Lodge the future for snowboard brands. What better way to build your range than being in the mountains and getting on boards before the buying season.” Jeremy Sladen, TSA Operations Manager
Flachau is an absolute gem of a resort with so much terrain on offer and we scored some incredible snow on the first day with just a short 10 minute hike off the back of the top chair. Northy was able to get some amazing shots of the TSA team for their catalogue and the end of day one saw a full compliment of stoked faces.
While at the BML, which is a top-notch new-build chalet just a five minute drive from the Flachau Winkl base station, there was plenty of downtime for conversation – between team riders (Jamie, Henry, Tosh & TSA’s Joy Dutch, representing the solo female on the trip), media (Northy & myself), shop staff (Chris Aitken) and TSA’s Jeremy Sladen & Bataleon’s Dennis – spanning a myriad of topics ranging from Trump to trade shows to discounting and inevitably always coming full circle to “what’s good for snowboarding.”
Some of the conversations got a little heated (as anyone who has ever had the pleasure of talking snowboarding with Jez will know), and it was refreshing to see a real melting pot of ideas and opinions that represented a diverse cross-section of today’s snowboard industry, from brand owner to retailers to media and professional athletes. The content of most the conversations is too sensitive to be written in a b2b article, but safe to say if this cross-section is reflective of the industry, then the ideas, beliefs and passion mean we are in safe hands.
“Having stayed away from that 30% a year growth mentality that has been the demise of many a snowboard brand, has allowed us and other retailers to grow our business with Low Pressure. This allows us to commit to the brand knowing that we aren’t going to get burned when that oversupply drives RRP’s down.” Jeremy Sladen, TSA Operations Manager
Back to the mountain and day two saw the young guns fire some hot laps around the impressive Absolute Park, which runs from an impressive set of wedges at the top of the park through a progressive set of rails and on down to a fun end section after a halfpipe. Leaving the rubber-kneed Trinder & Henry to finish off shots for the catalogue with Northy, Tosh, Joy & I set off to explore the rest of what Flachau Winkl had to offer with our knowledgeable tour guide, Dennis.
Dennis rode Bataleon’s 3D Pow Surfer both days; it’s the real stand-out board of their 17/18 line. It’s an aggressive looking pow stick with a gnarly swallow tail and the thing looks like a ton of fun, and surprisingly team rider Trinder even managed side-hit backflips with it, showing an unlikely versatile nature to the surf-inspired shape.
I chose the Disaster for day one without knowing we were in for a day of the deep stuff. At the top of the hike, hindsight told me I shouldn’t have gone for Bataleon’s noodley park board, but to my surprise, the cheapest and softest board in the line still gave plenty of float in landings and its softness combined with 3BT made for a loosey goosey fun day slashing banks and bouncing pillows. On day two I unleashed the new Evil Twin Japan edition and hindsight had no need for an appearance that day as this stick provided some solid edge-to-edge gunnery for our day of piste crushing.
On the way down the mountain Dennis took us to a schnapps bar set in an over-sized barrel, which sat at the side of the piste and we were served some local brew by a lovely local lady, despite her spotting British accents and fearing we may be partly responsible for Brexit – we assured her we were in the minority.
Once off the mountain and catalogue photos finished, we headed for the Dampfkessel, one of the craziest après bars ever witnessed to round off what had been a stellar couple of days.
As touched on above, while at the lodge there was a lot of chat regarding what’s “good for snowboarding”, and it was in the car on the way to the airport when reflecting on a what a radical resort Flachau is and what an amazing couple of days we had that Dennis surmised: “I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves how good snowboarding is for us.”