scenic mountain shot The Rome Lodge
The Rome Lodge Part 2
The Rome Lodge The Rome Lodge Diedamskopf group
THE DAYS Diedamskopf is a snowboarder’s dream—the natural lips, gullies, and berms provide endless opportunity. There’s some of the steepest inbounds rollers I have ever experienced and the snake runs always soften up by mid-morning making for quick, yet semi-forgiving turns. Living near the base of Stowe Mountain in Vermont, Josh Reid is adept at finding natural zones on the mountain just off the beaten path that yield method-ready hits, and layback-worthy carving, so following him around the resort made for a really good time. At Diedamskopf, the crew sussed out all the untouched and ungroomed snow that, by mid-day, would soften into slushly powder. It was the kind of snowboarding that leaves a permanent grin on your face. At the top of the gondola, a small key-accessed room was filled with a cornucopia of 2016 Rome boards and bindings. In between runs, it was simple to swing through the gondola barn and make adjustments or change out gear. While the normal testing process for snowboard hardgoods at regional demos is rushed and frenetic—two laps are all you get on a deck or a pair of bindings to feel them out—the three-day, relaxed riding model of The Lodge allows each visitor to sample at their own pace, trying out different boards based on conditions, preference, and experience. Most importantly, Rome’s in house and sales crews are always on hand to offer advice and assistance with set-ups. For Rome, where customization is key on products like the Katana binding, the extra time and attention is incredibly valuable to allow snowboarders to really familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of the product. For example, on the Katanas, the PivotMount strap can be rotated to various positions to provide completely different heel hold and drive options and with a guide to illuminate the possibilities, the personalization of the bindings takes on new meaning. I had tried out the new-for-2016 Women’s Katanas at the on snow post-SIA tradeshow in Colorado, but a few quick runs and I was flagging at their stiffness. Fast-forward to Diedamskopf, where Rome Digital Manager Matt Stillman and Max tweaked the highbacks and straps exactly for my style of riding and suddenly I was experiencing a whole new binding-to-board power and a ride I was stoked on. The day-to-day at The Lodge is a welcome Groundhog Day experience with a group of people with whom you immediately fall into a comfortable report with, much due to the vibe set by the Rome staff, whose dedication to not only their brand, but snowboarding in general radiates throughout the whole experience. “If it’s pow, there are all kinds of chutes, windlips, and extended tree lines to be had,” says Reid of riding Diedamskopf. “When the lower mountain fires, it will likely be the best resort day of your life. After changing up gear a couple times, we have a group meal (more meat and cheese) at the mid-mountain lodge, usually in the sun in true Alps style. Then the afternoon is more snowboarding and more product testing.” I arrived only a few days after the bottomless refills had gone on for over a week. Photos of faceshots and rooster tails populated my social feed, but what Diedamskopf lacked in powder during my stay it made up for in springtime groomers and slush stashes. Each day was the best kind of sunny session spent hotlapping with your crew, although at Diedamskopf, the laps were long, reminiscent of terrain you’d find off trail in the States and the crew was an immediately affable group of folks I’d only just met and quickly bonded with over just how insane the mountain was to ride. photos: Mary Walsh

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The Rome Lodge The Rome Lodge Diedamskopf group
THE NIGHTS The euros gained in returnables from The Rome Lodge could power, ironically, a small European country. Each afternoon the crew drove down the street to the market and returned with cases of Radlers, German lagers, and locally-made Austrian schnapps. Boots were removed, emails were checked (just to keep up back home), and the main room of the chalet, an open dining and kitchen area, filled up with happily tired people, eager to talk shop. In past sessions, product designers, as well as Rome Co-Founder Paul Maravetz were on hand to discuss technology and gear choice, allowing an intimacy of discussion that’s just not possible on the tradeshow floor. “Retailers can hear about the product directly from the people who create it—for more than five minutes in a loud, smoky environment,” explains Max Schulz. “At The Lodge, our product designers are there to have both formal and informal discussions about why we create things the way that we do. This personal, one-on-one interaction is just way more feasible when you are staying in the same house with people for a few days.” On a given night, crews sat in the common room, gathered around a laptop and watched event livefeeds from the US—Rome rider Staale Sandbech was competing in Red Bull Double Pipe during one session—or classic flicks, like an errant copy of “Whisky 2” that was unearthed, gathered around the table to discuss their countries’ buying trends, and shot the shit in the kitchen about the day’s turns. Bjorn Leines and Thomas Delfino, in town filming for Bucket List, arrived at The Lodge after shooting in the backcountry each day to hang out with the group. It was a slice of snowboarding paradise; a house where so many people who make the snow industry go round, all from different arenas, came together to celebrate what it is that draws all of us to strapping in and pointing it down hill in the first place. As rounds of schnapps and tins of snus were passed throughout the house, with an effortless work-to-party ratio, each evening an in-depth clinic was held in a showroom set up on the third floor of The Lodge. Every shop was given a dedicated time to speak with Rome’s in-house crew about the upcoming product line, which was all neatly displayed in Austrian lodge chic. Josh Reid led many of the sessions, along with visiting reps who eagerly contributed to the open conversation. NorCal’s John Graham was a staple making sure there were ample filled-to-the-brim shot glasses making their way through the clinics--at reasonable increments, of course. There’s business to be done, but it’s easy to have a good time while doing so.

"At the end of the day when we leave the resort and walk around into the next valley where Gigi’s uncle has a high-mountain lodge. We’ll have a few drinks there and then the fun starts—rodeling. Rodeling is European sledding, and here it is 3,000 vertical feet of sketchy, dangerous racing with 15 to 20 other people down a track that is the width of a single snow cat." - Josh Reid, Rome Founder

The Rome Lodge The Rome Lodge Diedamskopf group
The Rome Lodge The Rome Lodge Diedamskopf group
Gigi Uncle cabin The Rome Lodge rodeling one rodeling one
THE RODELING From the moment I arrived in Schoppernau, everyone kept talking about rodeling. This area of Austria is where Gigi Rüf grew up, and his uncle still owns a hotel and bar in a remote section of the mountains that can only be accessed by hiking from the resort or hitching a ride on a cat in an area warmly called, Gigiland. This was the magical place from where the rodeling happened. The anticipation for this part of the session got heavier each passing day until finally, the rodel was upon us. At the end of the afternoon on my final day at The Lodge, we traversed to a zone rider’s left on the north-facing side of Diedamskopf. The day before, we had headed past the same area to access hundreds of yards of steeps winding through the trees with untracked slush, but today we unstrapped and hiked over a ridge, which opened up into a whole other area of the mountains. A kilometer or two along a winding cat track and we reached Gigi’s uncle’s property, a rustic Alps lodge with a sunny deck and a tiny, indoor bar used just for ordering drinks that are to be imbibed outside. Three massive, copper-toned bulls wandered the snowy property, chewing cud and moving between a handful of females. Snowboards were stacked below the deck, next to dozens of wooden sleds with metal runners stacked willy-nilly in the snow. Gigi’s uncle’s place has its own storied heritage in snowboarding; it was the site of the European Nixon Jibfest years ago, and rails from the event still can be found on the property, leaned up against the red slats of the main building. When Rome’s Schulz talks about the place, you can see his eyes light up. It’s like a valued secret; a hidden hostel nestled in massive peaks with untouched, glistening white snow all around. And then it was time to Rodel. Written words can not do justice to what this experience was like, so bear with me. Snowboards were loaded in the back of a cat to be driven downhill; we wouldn’t be needing them where we were going. Instead, each person was handed one of the small wooden sleds, sturdy machines with a strap to be used for some semblance of downhill control. We ambled to the top of a cat track that snaked back and forth for a few miles down to the valley, massive drops into the woods always on one side of the trail. I was given advice: use your hands and feet to steer. Make sure you’re wearing mittens you don’t care about. Watch out for the drop off. And we were off. The corners came quick and the steering was loose. So loose. And so much fun. We swarmed down hairpin turns, washing out, barely holding on, and sometimes crashing. Spots of the trail shaded by trees ran so fast you feared slightly for your life. An errant runner off the edge and the tumble downhill was steep and unforgiving. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. As the crew collected at the bottom of the rodel run, tired, a bit soggy and very stoked, we made out way back through the sleepy town of Schoppernau to The Lodge for one more night of snowboards and schnapps. The air was thick with a contented exhaustion as boots were peeled off and seats were taken in the common room. Stories from the day were exchanged, gear experiences were discussed, laughs were shared, and dice were thrown. This is a snowboarding trip at its best. Thank you to the entire Rome crew, the riders, the shops, and everyone who at The Lodge for an unforgettable experience in the Austrian Alps.
The Rome Lodge Sveti