Planai-Schladming has a small-town feel about it. But this is a stunning place, with views out over the valley to the Dachstein Mountain Range, craggy grey rocks that launch out of the green rolling hills as if they have somewhere to go. The last major race event was the UCI Downhill World Cup in 2009. It is often referred to as “Hill’s Hill” due to Sam Hill’s total domination on the UCI circuit – 4 times victorious on the Schladming DH World Cup course. There is one gondola to access the trails, and each cabin takes one bike on a hanger on the outside of the cabin. It is modern and fast moving, but even so it still takes 20 minutes to get to the top station as there is over 1000m of vertical to gain! And you can see so many trail sections running down under the lift as you go up. There is a mid-station, but plenty of great trails above so not worth getting off unless you’re pushed for time.
From the top of the mountain there is the “Rookie Trail” and the “Pro Downhill” trails. Both do ‘exactly what it says on the tin’. Things get a lot steeper below the mid-station, where you also get a couple more trail options. The downhill is trail is joined by the “Downhill Advanced” and “Downhill WC” (WC for World Cup) trails. The WC sections consist of steep roots and can by bypassed on the advanced DH which consists of steep machine-built berms instead. Off to one side of the hill is the new “Flowline” trail which is smooth and typically ‘flowy’, with a few sections of optional northshore.
Easier than the DH tracks but this course does not run all the way to the base and merges back with the DH tracks later on. At the base, and part of the main ‘Talstation Planai’ gondola building, is the Alpreif Bike-Center run by Sebastien, which provides quality Lapierre rental bikes. Guiding and lesson packages are also available for those new to bike park riding. It’s a pretty cool set up here, easy access, a cool vibe in town, and great trails with a huge altitude drop from top to bottom. There is planned expansion but no firm details yet. The money that is being invested thanks to the Ski World Champs in 2013 is really developing the general infrastructure. Planai-Schladming bike park could really establish itself as a big player in the European bike park scene. Time will tell.
May 28th to October 2nd 2011 (continuous) and October 8th, 9th, 15th, 16.th 2011: every day from 09: