The Epic Bikepark Leogang is the first Austrian bike park to celebrate its second decade; so many memorable experiences have been collected over the first 20 years. Today the park is one of the oldest and most well known bike destinations in Europe. Bikers from all over the world make their way to Pinzgau, year after year to enjoy the famous lines and trails of the Epic Bikepark Leogang. A look at the history quickly shows how passion and dedication for mountain biking has created a sustainable formula for success.
In 2001, when Epic Bikepark Leogang opened its doors to the public as the first Austrian bike park, the concept of a “bike park” was still being created. The mountain railroads, together with 33 shareholders, had invested €450,000 to get the bike park and lifts rolling. Initially viewed critically by the general public, however, additional payments had to be made until 2005. Then the mountain railroads took over not only the maintenance, but also the sole operation of the Epic Bikepark Leogang and within a few years operating sustainably.
When the park first opened, there were a total of four lines at the Asitzbahn. The Speedster and the Flying Gangster led from the mid station down to the valley, while the Four Cross and Dual Cross courses were located in the valley area. The trails, which were rather challenging at the beginning, quickly got known in the gravity community which led to more people speaking about the project and visiting the park. Riders in Saalfelden Leogang recorded 16,700 trips in the cable car in 2001. By 2002 there were already 25,000 and in 2020, mountain the resortreached to 195,000.
The founders of the bike park reacted to the increasing demand and engaged the shape crew of the Snowpark Asitz to create a variety of new and well developed tracks and lines. Over time, more and more alternatives suitable for beginners were created. In recent years, the Leoganger Bergbahnen, together with the tourism association, have once again invested heavily in the expansion of the bike park. Novelties such as the World Champs Pumptrack, the downhill track “Valis Hölle”, the natural trail “Knappentrail”, the Hot Shots fired by GoPro and the GoPro Landing Bag speak for themselves and complete the big variety of the park. Today, Saalfelden Leogang offers a trail network of eleven bike park trails and four single trails and puts a smile on the faces of bikers of all levels.
Kornel Grundner, Managing Director of Leoganger Bergbahnen, has been involved in the bike park since the beginning:
“It was a very courageous step at the beginning and everyone was curious to see the outcome. We were in the fortunate situation that we were able to launch the project with the help of 33 shareholders from Leogang. 50% of the investment was made by the mountain railroads. The first years weren’t easy, but from 2006 onwards the number of visitors increased year by year, and especially within the last five years it has become a completely different dimension again.”
For many years, the Epic Bikepark Leogang has been the venue for events and competitions in the MTB scenery. Unique concepts like the “White Style” contest – a dirt jump competition on snow – provide unforgettable moments and pictures. The annual Out of Bounds Festival combines the typical bike festival flair with participatory events and offers enough bike action for all participants. The 26TRIX Dirtjump Contest, which was held until 2017, enjoyed great popularity and offered scene greats like Andreau Lacondeguy or Greg Watts the necessary airtime for tricks never seen before, like a double backflip. The UCI Mountain Bike World Championships also found their ideal venue in 2012 and 2020 with the Epic Bikepark Leogang. The Downhill World Cup will now take place in Pinzgau for the tenth time this year.
In 2021, the organizers now dare to take the next step. For the first time, a double World Cup will be held in Saalfelden Leogang as part of the Out of Bounds Festival. In addition to the Downhill World Cup, the Cross-Country riders will also fight for the medals in Leogang. The final races of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup will be shown live on Red Bull TV and ORF. A limited number of visitors on assigned seats will be allowed, with an extensive Covid-19 prevention concept. Tickets for the grandstand seats can be purchased from 20 May at www.mtb-weltcup.at. Get a first impression here:
Marco Pointner, Managing Director of Saalfelden Leogang Touristik:
“A lot has happened here at the Epic Bikepark Leogang and I have huge respect for the people who had the courage to bring the project to life, 20 years ago. After initial challenges, the bike park kept growing and more and more people came to experience the tracks and the atmosphere. I have been a part of this project since six years now and it’s great to see the development.”
Header picture by Klemens König