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Girls Own the Park – a Crew of Young Women Turns Obergurgl into a “Fun Mountain”

Snowparks of all kinds and variations have become a key element of modern ski resorts. In order to offer an everlasting spectacular and unique winter sports experience, the lift operators spare neither costs nor efforts. That’s why the so-called “shapers” – trained professionals who specialize in maintaining these snow facilities – are in great demand. What makes the Funmountain in Obergurgl in Ötztal stand out from the rest, is that the team that keeps the four parks and courses in top condition consists exclusively of girls.   

The six young women in their early twenties are in charge of shaping the facilities’ perfect lines. Following the ski resort’s slogan “Diamond of the Alps”, the girls call themselves the Diamond Girls Crew. Park designer Francine Boer from the Netherlands is the crew’s head and creative force. Designing and implementing all of the Funmountain’s facilities are two of her main duties.  She is supported by headshaper Lana Behla from southern Germany. She is the team leader who is also in charge of the coordination and the roster. There is definitely no time for boredom for them and their international team mates. This winter they had to fight vast amounts of snow, which resulted in the girls having to dig up the completely snow-covered facilities a couple of times and start building them again from scratch. These events were by no means a negative influence on their motivation and their optimism, though. “I’d definitely recommend this job to any girl,” Francine says. “It’s great to be outside, it’s great to get your work-out and to be able to build something that was in your head and make it become real and then ride it. It’s like the best feeling in the world!” Her sparkling eyes certainly leave no doubt. 

Winter of the Century in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
What makes the Obergurgl-Hochgurgl mountain railways happy, means a lot of work and extra shifts for the shape crew. Even though the work may seem enviable at first sight, it’s actually a tough job that most men wouldn’t be able to carry out. “It’s an exhausting job and you certainly have to love the mountains and working at night. It requires loads of power and passion,“ Lana says.  But there’s one thing the crew can definitely count on – the lift operators’ support. They back the young shovel wielding women in every possible way. “It’s important to us to show that the girls are just as talented as the boys,” Marie-Therese Riml, the marketing manager of the Obergurgl-Hochgurgl lift company, points out.

An Ever Increasing Number of Women within the Shape Academy
The girls are part of the “Shape Academy“, the world’s biggest operator of professional snow facilities. It currently boasts 240 employees, who are trained in everything from wielding shovels to operating snow grooming machines. They design, construct and maintain fun facilities just like the one in Obergurgl in 60 ski resorts in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland or France during all of the season. Even though the amount of men is still much higher within the “snow building experts” community, there are more and more young women discovering the appealing work and career opportunities. “I learned about the Shape Academy when I was working at a snowpark in New Zealand. For my first season I went to Alta Badia in Italy and now I’m happy to work as a park designer with my all-girl crew here in Obergurgl,” Francine says. To her, the life in the mountains is just as important as the sun and the creative freedom that comes with her job. “Since I’m a passionate photographer as well, there’s nothing more satisfying to me than putting a bright smile on the guests’ faces by creating creative and high-quality facilities.” 

Olympia Participant Lisi Gram Stops By
There are also a number of popular events taking place at the Fun Mountain Obergurgl on a regular basis. Lately the Girls Shred Session swept the area, when 30 girls were joined by the Tyrolean freeskier and Olympia halfpipe participant Lisi Gram and pro snowboarder Lea Baumschlager for a free freestyle training session. Both pros were deeply impressed by the perfectly groomed facilities and the shaperesses’ performance. “I’m totally amazed by the shape crew’s skills. Both parks offer something for everybody, which is just brilliant when it comes to events such as the Girls Shred Session,” Lisi praises the crew’s work. “Formats like the Girls Sessions are extremely important for the young generation of riders,” she adds. 

Alternatives to Riding the Common Slopes
The Fun Mountain Obergurgl adds a valuable contribution to this, as one will clearly notice when looking at the smiling faces of the guests. Innovative and sophisticated concepts such as the Audi quattro Funslope with its spectacular tunnels, steep curves, funny features like a big piano producing sounds when riding over it or figures that can be high-fived and plenty more playful elements sweeten even the youngest skiers’ and snowboarders’ winter sports adventure. There’s absolutely no time for boredom. If you prefer the more sportive and racy aspects of snowboarding and skiing, visiting the Funcross is certainly your best bet. This flow-laden and speedy course starts next to the snowpark and leads its guests through the forest via fast-paced steep curves and smaller jumps. For bigger jumps there are two snowparks to choose from, depending on your skill level. The Familypark offers the perfect training space for all the freestyle beginners, while the newly constructed Snowpark Obergurgl is the ideal place for the advanced riders to get their dose of airtime and jib-action. This winter, for the first time the snowpark will also be the location of the spectacular finals of the QParks Tour, Europe’s biggest freestyle contest series. 

The company behind the facilities and the Shape Academy is Young Mountain Marketing, based in Austria. As an agency for ski resorts and mountain railways all across Europe, it specializes in all-inclusive mountain concepts like the one in Obergurgl. 

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