The wind gusts and the hairs prick on exposed forearms, emerging from a thick, red, Oakley hoody. Leaning over a set of 580mm handlebars in baggy jeans and white hi-top shoes, the ‘Goat King’ calmly surveys his estate before him, but the reality of failing on the 10-meter drop at the end of the woodwork is kicking in. The year is 2005 and Timo Pritzel, reigning champ of the event’s best style award, sits on top of what is now the biggest European contest feature to date at the Adidas Slopestyle in Saalbach, Austria. If he doesn’t get it smooth someone else surely will; the start list is a formidable one. Gracia, Berrecloth, Strait, McCaul, Bourdon, Vanderham, Zink… The list of freeride heroes in the making goes on and this is a leap of faith they all plan to take before continuing onto a huge satellite dish, a wall-ride, cable-car gap and a big line of doubles. Well, it’s time to put Europe on the slopestyle map... this one’s for Germany! Timo’s dropping in…






What does a man get alongside the luxury title of 'Goat King'? A very appropriate living, breathing, bleating, four-legged goat for a prize. In the end, King Pritzel couldn’t quite repeat the success of the previous year, but what had become of that special trophy? Having graciously accepted the miniature beast at the podium, Timo had the foresight to realise that farm animals of the Austrian mountains and city life in central Berlin are not the most sensible of blends. With that in mind, however soul-crushing, the decision to leave this furry little bundle of joy behind was made. Although Timo returned the next few seasons to compete, contact was lost and his ‘kid’, if you will, long forgotten. That is until he got the call from an old friend and resort ambassador Tibor Simai - did he want to explore Saalbach’s most rugged enduro trails and sample some of the backcountry beyond the bike park?



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


It was a no brainer... an offer he couldn’t refuse and who knows, maybe he’d have the chance to track down his long-lost goat. They say ‘never go full enduro’ - well nevermind the commenters and the memes - it was high-time Timo went ‘full mountain biking’ and there was no better place to test his Propain all-mountain machine, than the legendary ‘Bike Circus’ of Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria. As it happens his good friend, Tibor, was a judge at that very slopestyle competition some 10 years before, but the pair go way back much further than that, 26 years to be precise. As a famous BMX racer, built like a weightlifter before finishing school and with all the coolest gear and bikes, Tibor was an inspiration to Timo the grom.



Timo Pritzel


Several days and several phone calls later, myself, Timo and Tibor found ourselves high up above the tree-line, at the very back end of the Saalbach valley. It was dawn, shortly before 6am, as we approached the top of a sharp climb that followed the near 1000 height-meter shuttle we couldn’t say ‘danke’ enough for. Despite the head-start, our heavy breathing and clunking along in the dark was enough to startle a herd of chamois drinking from a lake and they set off at pace, their tiny black and white heads hurtling across the damp, steep moorland.



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


The wait for first light was coming to a close and when the sun finally broke, it came beaming over the distant ranges with its max wattage from under a big bank of cloud. It was to be a short-lived window, but we'd certainly take it. This is a part of the mountain few people get to see on a typical holiday to the bike park; an epic ridgeline of contrasting colours, backing onto multiple empty valleys of nothingness, bar rock and nature. Even fewer are up at this kind of time to see it lit up in gold. It was a great welcome to the Austrian wilderness.



Timo Pritzel


These were trails formed purely by mix of hiker and sheep, making for the kind of loose, unpredictable terrain, you can't get enough of following a summer of hard-packed braking bumps. As a second home to Munich local, Tibor, he was naturally the leader of our adventure and in this kind of wild landscape it seemed he could put the hurt into Timo and get ahead in this long-standing rivalry between the duo from years gone by.



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel



bigquotesI met Timo when I was 18 on a school trip to Berlin, waiting in line at a food truck at a motorway service station. The young kid came up to me and asked if I was Tibor the BMXer and we had a good chat about bikes and racing. That little guy was Timo. It must have been 1989. From then we would see each other at the BMX race, eventually competing against each other. It is great that we have stayed in contact despite how our careers took us to such different places. - Tibor Simai



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


bigquotesAlthough I'm a city kid, I have a lot of love for the Mountains! I am best known as a dirt jumper, but I always liked to just go out in the woods and have a cross-country ride... or you know, 'Enduro' as we call it today! It's important for me because I live in the city and I feel some quality nature time really helps me. I'll often head out for a quick ride in the morning before starting work as a yoga teacher in Berlin, but there are really no hills so it's amazing to come to Saalbach with Tibor and discover this stunning landscape beyond even what I had imagined was out there - Timo Pritzel - Propain




Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


After a short biscuit break, or ‘dried fig break’ as it is in the case of two guys sponsored by a health food company, we began the epic descent down to Lengau village. For a dirt jump guy, Timo was coping with the gnarly terrain surprisingly well, tackling the 'axle-scraping muddy rut into rocky switchback' scenarios with relative ease in his skate shoes and bare hands.



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo in pursuit on the long descent from Saalbach's upper ridge-lines.

Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


As we rumbled down the fire-road for the remaining few kilometres back to the village, gravel spitting up at us in mud-coated chunks from our tires, it was clear he’d passed Tibor's unofficial backcountry test. A steep, gullied stream crossing and a couple of burly root sections that wouldn’t look out of place between the tape at Val Di Sole World Cup had sealed it.


Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


Any athlete will tell you the importance of a good diet and after that kind of morning, we needed to think big. A trip to the famous Spielberghaus did the trick and we were soon scoffing the finest locally produced Leber wurst and most delicious, crispy, fried potatoes in town. The sun was back so we couldn’t spend too long in the deck chairs and on the radlers; despite Timo’s best attempts at stealing a regenerative nap, we had laps to do; this time, some lift assisted sessioning of the Panorama trail and Milka Line.



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


That really marked the point when Timo came into his own. Chasing Tibor through the flowing berms and jumps of the bike park was like a trip back to the BMX crazed 90s for the pair. Tibor for sure knows how to handle a bike, but as soon as there was any hint or suggestion of airtime no matter how small the lip, Timo was able to show off his enviable style and we got to see his timeless, signature one-foot table.



Timo Pritzel


Next up on Tibor's itinerary to continue the good times behind bars, we were headed to the Schattberg Express gondola to make some laps on Saalbach's main DH trail, X-line. It was obvious Tibor knew the track like the back of his glove, slashing rough turns and gapping the roots, but once again Timo stole the show on every jump, whether the kicker was real or imaginary, finishing with the big ladder drop on his enduro bike. A quick refresh in the ice cold water of the river at the bottom and Timo had his zen back on track and we were good to go.



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


Not satisfied with merely the 6am summit and some post-early bird laps that afternoon, Tibor had a sunset plan for us. From Saalbach centre, we hopped on the Schattberg X-press gondola and began the remainder of the fairly huge ascent to the top of the Westgipfel mountain. It felt huge at least, at over 2000m altitude. We rode into the top of the Hacklberg trail, equipped with its awe-inspiring backdrop; the giant snowy triangle of the Kitzsteinhorn ski area, before dropping into one of the most technical trials of the whole Saalbach Bike Circus - the Bergstadl trail.



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel

Timo Pritzel
Epic beginnings on the Hackleberg trail infront of the Kitzsteinhorn peak as the two begin the 1000m descent back to the valley floor.

Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
The Bergstadl trail's deceptively gentle beginning eases you in, before things turn a bit more savage later on.

Timo Pritzel
Tibor leading out Timo across the heather into Hinterglemm valley below.

Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Sending over the countless rocky turns, but still keeping the flow; Tibor keeps on charging.

Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


Initially fast and flowing to fire-up the reactions, the Bergstadl soon turns aggressive and a lot more white-knuckle as we dipped below the tree line and the sun started to dip below the horizon. We definitely got the best of the final moments, arriving at a section of insane highland colours, as the rocky trail meandered through orange heather with big clumps of yellow and green bracken. After a top day on the hill, over dinner at the Bergstadl mountain restaurant, Tibor dropped the bomb; he had found Timo’s goat, so he thought and had arranged a reunion for the next afternoon.



Timo Pritzel
Last light creeping over the ranges and you can imagine the smiles on these silhouettes.


With the bikes packed up, there was onIy one thing left to settle back in Hinterglemm village; the long awaited reunion Tibor had promised… It was a nervous time for us all, not least Timo, as the 'father'. Could it really be the goat awarded to him so long ago? How would the beast look if it was still alive today? Do goats live for more than 10 years? So many questions! Thankfully the suspense wouldn’t last much longer. Tibor took us to the very spot where the 2004 slope contest was held under the Reiterkogelbahn lift, apparently just too obvious a place to look previously… Tucked in the corner below the trees was a goat pen and from the herd of many, there was one fine specimen that truly stood out.



Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel
Timo Pritzel


bigquotesThis huge goat was an impressive animal... I guess he was the boss of all the goats they had there. Taking this guy out for a walk was intimidating at first, but I think it was important I didn't show fear and acted as the father that I am and, in the end, he was ok with it. We had some moments off 'reuniting' and some quality time spent comparing our goat beards in front of the Goat Stall bar after all these years...! Fair play to my old friend - he won - Timo Pritzel - Propain Bikes




Timo Pritzel



And so it was - reunited after 11 long years of thick and full beard growth. Despite looking a spit of the goat pictured on the podium so many years ago, it wouldn’t be possible to determine the goat’s identity definitively without rigorous DNA testing… But of course, what mattered most was the obvious and immediate bond between the pair; something that Tibor and I spotted the moment that lasso slipped over his horns. All you need is love, and more than a decade after being crowned the Goat King of Saalbach it’s clear the great passions of Timo Pritzel endure – four legs, two wheels and great beards for life.



MENTIONS: @PritzelTimo / @natedh9



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24 Comments

  • + 34
 I need a new camera. And a plane ticket. And a nanny to watch the kids. And time off. And a green light from the Mrs. Since those things aren't in the cards right now, I'm always stoked that I can live vicariously through this site! Thanks PB.
  • + 3
 True that.
  • + 4
 Never visit PB when you are out of riding on your couch after acl knee surgery....

No, quite the contrary, you made my day! Now I am looking forward even more to visiting the Leogang DH worldcup and take a stop in Saalbach for a day or two come summer Smile
  • + 5
 Pinkbike, if we can learn anything from this, add more goa . Always more goat.
  • + 6
 EPIC!

But I will never understand Timo's choice of shoes Big Grin
  • + 3
 Berlin...
  • + 2
 this shoes are made for walking that is what they do...
Flats are Ok, but I prefer not the Disco shoe model Wink
  • + 3
 @natedh9 awesome edit! Peeked at the Japan edit too jeje, RESPECT! You are truly and inspiration to a photographer like me, awesome style! Thanks for sharing! Cheers!
  • + 2
 Good story and such a beautiful place, I was lucky to spend ten days there last year and loved the variety of trails and being able to ride over the mountains to Leogang. Hope to get back when I recover from knee injury.
  • + 1
 hold on here a second @natedh9, are you even allowed to include that many amazing shots in one post? stunningly beautiful! maybe you should have backed off a little bit, it was a little overwhelming all at once Wink
  • + 2
 Wonderful, stunning photography Nathan ! I was rooting for a table-top one foot from Timo ! He didn't forget that one !
  • + 1
 Well, after reading this article, I had to play Timo's part in NWD4 where he was trying double-backflips Smile
  • + 2
 Great story and wonderful photography of two really likeable guys.
  • + 1
 Can't agree more. Really, really well written article with cracking pictures. Brings back some memories for sure!
  • + 2
 POD's everywhere ! Great shots !
  • + 1
 That very well done article made me realise how awesome it is to live less than two hours by car away from Saalbach ????
  • + 1
 Great story to read, brings back memories. Stayed at Spielberghaus last year, had a blast! Hacklbergtrail is epic.
  • + 1
 Great story, enjoyed that,Hail the beard of the great goat. hurrah for beards.
  • + 1
 Great story and even better photos. Big thanks!
  • + 1
 that`s an impressive story !
  • + 1
 which brand of helmets they are wearing? great story.
  • + 1
 Timo is wearing a TSG Trailfox helmet. Check it here: www.pinkbike.com/u/ridetsg/blog
  • + 1
 Amazing article, story and pics!! Beer
  • + 1
 well done, much appreciated

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