WORDS: Abbie Barronian
The four members of Higaski, a freeski crew from Vienna, Austria, are no strangers to injury. They first bonded over bloody falls at a Danube River water ramp and were unable to film their first season together as a crew due to a broken hand, a torn ACL, and an avalanche. Last winter, however, proved to be injury free, and Higaski—Vincent Hamp, Robert Maruna, Florian Gsandtner, and Armin Rauthner—has released a series of self-produced edits over the past four months. All four members film, ski, and edit, and their most recent video, Dreams of August, dropped in mid-August. We caught up with 24-year-old Vincent Hamp, self-proclaimed spokesman of Higaski, to talk about where they come from and where they hope to go in the winters to come.
POWDER: Tell us the story behind Higaski.
Hamp: We are just a bunch of good friends who enjoy the same kind of skiing and happen to have the same vision of where we want to see the sport going. Although we have been skiing together for what seems like an eternity—almost eight years if I remember correctly—Higaski was founded only two years ago.
What’s up with the name? It sounds Japanese. Not Austrian.
The naming of the crew is a chapter itself. It took us the whole summer. We had every stupid idea you can imagine. Even names like ‘The Viennese Skiers’ were discussed… good lord! Finally someone came up with a name in latin or something and we started looking for names in every other language we could imagine. Somehow we got to Japanese and looked up what ‘east’ means. Turns out that ‘east’ is ‘higashi’. We just swapped that ‘h’ with an ‘k’ and there you go, higaski was born.
Seems like Vienna's a pretty prime place to be.
While most people think that snowboarding and freeskiing is huge in our country, it’s hardly known in the east. People in Vienna don’t get what we do. According to them, if you’re a skier you've got to race, period. There isn't really much of a freeski scene around here, sadly.
So how did you guys meet?
There is a nice water ramp right at the Danube, and this is where we all came together for the first time, practicing new tricks as bloody beginners. Right beside the water ramp there is a little restaurant where we usually consume a well-deserved beer after trying new tricks and landing on our faces once or twice too often. One day, when it didn’t stop at “one beer,” we enjoyed the thought of founding a crew. Of course, we filmed and took pictures now and then, but we wanted to step it up and do something a bit more professional.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
More filming, more skiing, more fun. We learned quite a lot about filming this season and I’m definitely looking forward to trying new angles, new ideas, new techniques. The winter in Austria was one of the darkest I can remember, with the least hours of sunshine since, I don’t know, 1950 or something. I wouldn’t mind skiing some big lines and hitting some cliffs above tree level and in the sun next year.
Say you're doing a two-week dream trip with the crew. Where do you go?
The dream trip would be AK without a doubt, skiing some of those lines you see in the big ski movies.
To check out more Higaski, go here.