Schladming is a resort at the start of a new chapter in its mountain bike life and boy have we been anticipating this one. If you've been in to mountain biking for more than afew years you'll not need to ask why, Schladming is a legendary mountain bike destination. After a series of downhill World Cup's from 2004 - 2009, made famous by the total domination of Sam Hill with his four wins (and one epic 2nd with a crash). More recently with the plethora of edits released by riders of downhills golden era returning to Schladming to reminisce over this epic location and one of the greatest downhill tracks of all time! The lure of one of the worlds greatest downhill tracks has always been huge and now with the addition of what we think will become Europe's best lift assisted jump line alongside many new Enduro trails this place is making a comeback and it's serious.
The resort needs no introduction to long time fans of downhill mountain biking, but even if you've heard the name you probably have some things to learn about the riding and this picturesque old mining town in the Austrian Alps.
The top section of the Planai lift is where most of the new work has taken place. This was always considered the ‘fun’ part of the bike park, with the fast Blue and Red flow lines, with their open shale corners, jumps and berms here and still in all their glory. Nearly every instagram clip you’ve seen in Schladming over the years would’ve been taken on this section of the hillside. Now add into this the best new jump line we’ve seen in Europe, and a brand new flow line and you’ve got yourself a serious park. The jump line, 99 jumps, is part of a project to take Schladming to the next level. Realised and created by slopestyle guru Matthias Garber and local legend Markus Pekoll, the fun you’ll have up here is off the charts. Every lip and berm has been sculpted to perfection, the jumps all work in harmony and it’s something you could ride on anything from a slopestyle bike to a full blown DH rig and have a blast. Bring the noise.
Why ride Schladming
The legendary World Cup track has seen some of the most wild races over the last 15 years and a is a rider favourite for good reason. A full day is needed to learn what is actually quite a short run, what it may lack in length is more than made up for in difficulty. What makes this track special is the way that it flows down the mountain, gaps, transfers and technical sections litter the course and to get up to speed takes some skill and courage!
Schladming have also invested heavily in a new trail network in the Rieteralm riding zone, a fifteen minute drive from Schladming. Transfers can be arranged to ride this zone which is best ridden on an enduro bike. Lift assisted and predominantly gravity fed, the riding here is similar to many alpine bike parks, but far, far longer. Cleverly built flow lines are the main feature of the trail network, with fun to be had for most levels of rider from intermediate to expert.
There is far more to Schladming than the World Cup track! Most of the edits you see coming from the World Cup athletes that pilgrimage to this part of Austria are actually filmed on the incredibly fun blue and red trails above the mid station. The World Cup track starts at the mid station and is classified as a black top to bottom.
There are 9 official trails in Schladming bike park. The Flowline is the easiest of the downhill focused tracks which runs alongside the new jump line, called 99 Jumps. with tables and hips ranging from 3 metres to 12 metres in length, and over 3.5 kilometres long, it's one for the books!
Rookie and Downhill Pro & Downtown Line are all found above the mid station and are awesome fun, with the famous loose shale turns, high speed jumps and gaps of varying difficulty making this a playground for the downhill rig. there is a flow line and Northshore trail below the mid station for those wanting to take an easy way down.
Downhill World Cup is what most of you are here to read about. It's an incredible track, but it's not easy. Champery World Cup track is legendary, it's tough, but you can make your way down slowly if you have decent bike control and build your speed. This track is different, you either potter down slowly or go fast, there is not cruising. The gaps and compressions have to be hit at pace or they just do not work. It's fun, fast and scary! There is also the Downhill Advanced track built around the World Cup track, it takes out some of the gnarlier sections.
Big news is the building of the 10 man gondola that will get you to the top faster than ever, with the complete overhaul of the existing trail network including the World Cup track and the addition of the new lines, Schladming is putting itself right back on the mountain bike map as must visit destination
Rieteralm, Schladming's Enduro Zone
Schladming's riding has long been dedicated not only to gravity based runs, but downhill bikes were necessary to tackle them. Alongside the development of new trails on the Planai lift, heavy investment has been made in the Reiteralm zone. The riding here feels a little like a mix of Austrian alpine and some UK bike parks. It's well built and natural at the same time. You'll find the trails here well marked and accessible to most abilities.
There are 6 official runs here, 2 blue and 4 red. Though the red trails are on the easier end of the scale. The beauty of the riding is that you can hit the lines at any speed and have fun, and at the time of writing the trails are quiet and well looked after. There are more possibilities opening up in the area with development of trails that run all the way to the valley floor. Reiteralm is a short 15 minute drive from Schladming, transfers, taxis and bus services provide the link from Schladming.
Singletracks deep into the Austrian forest
Post riding in Schladming you’ll find one of Austria’s oldest towns tourist towns. Littered with Germanic and Slavic influences in architecture and culture. A former mining town, Schladming turned it’s hand to winter and summer sports to great effect, hosting both ski and mountain bike World Cups in it’s recent history. Eating out is easy, with many options from traditional Austrian such as schnitzels, the best of which is found at Stadtbräu, to steak houses. Though the bars are not many in number, you will find the restaurants and hotels very accommodating to sitting out on their terraces sipping on a cold beer after a day on the hill. You’ll also find Europe’s largest apres ski bar at the base of the Planai, the four level Hohenhaus Tenne.
Schladming town centre
Check out some ideas for a holiday in this incredible part of the world, with everything from tours to long weekends available.