Last October saw the 40-strong team behind the Design & Innovation Award 2016 descend on the picturesque mountain village of San Vigilio at the foot of the Kronplatz. With the rugged peaks of the Dolomites serving as a spectacular backdrop, pioneering ideas and innovations were held up and dissected, with the bike world’s best products ultimately being rewarded Here’s an exclusive look behind the scenes.

Having begun in Barcelona, Spain, the Award transferred to Latsch, South Tirol, two years ago. Keeping in the same region, it relocated once more for the 2016 edition – this time opting for San Vigilio, an idyllic village encircled by awe-inspiring mountainous scenery courtesy of the Dolomites. Such a location didn’t just grant the Award jury the optimal test conditions, circuits and challenges on which to test numerous road cycling and mountain biking products, it also delivered flawless infrastructure in which such an international event like these Awards can be carried out.

In traumhafter alpiner Umgebung fand das Team optimale Testbedingungen.
The team found the perfect testing grounds in this stunning Alpine scenery.

From nail-bitingly tough high Alpine trails rammed with rocks and roots through to mellow flow trails, the presence of such diversity was a perquisite for hosting the Design & Innovation Award in San Vigilio/Kronplatz, the Dolomites. After all, these Awards are to highlight the very best of cycling – from XC to enduro, the whole spectrum is covered. The right blend was nailed in this spot, with man-made flow trails, super diverse freeride sections on the Kronplatz and the unspoiled trails in the Fanes region.

Das schroffe alpine Gelände in der Nähe des Rifugio Pederü bot eine perfekte Foto-Kulisse.
Raw and imposing Alpine terrain near Rifugio Pederü provided the perfect backdrop for imagery.
Dank Shuttle-Unterstützung waren zahlreiche Abfahrten pro Tag auf den langhubigeren Bikes kein Problem.
Thanks to the support of shuttles, those long-travel bikes got tested on descent after descent.
Egal ob Enduro- oder XC-Bike, in der Dolomiten-Region hatten wir mit jedem Rad Spaß!
Whether enduro or XC, the Dolomites made sure we had a blast whatever the bike!
Und das immer eingerahmt von einer atemberaubenden Kulisse.
And who can complain when you’ve got scenery like this on every ride?
Einfach wunderschön!
Seriously spectacular!
Auf der Fanes-Hütte wurde nicht nur ausgiebig diskutiert …
The Fanes hut wasn’t just the scene for extensive discussions …
… sondern es wurden auch feinste Südtiroler Köstlichkeiten genossen.
… they also dished up some of South Tirol’s finest delicacies.

But it wasn’t just mountain bikes that came under the microscope during the Design & Innovation Award. The region’s many tarmacked mountain passes witnessed a host of parts and bikes being put to the test throughout the course of the Awards.

Location-Scouting auf vier Rädern.
Location scouting on four wheels.
Auch die Pässe der Region boten perfekte Testbedingungen. Bergauf …
Perfect test conditions on some nice uphill road passes …
… wie auch bergab.
… and then, of course, you’ve got to ride down too.
Bei solchen Aussichten macht man gern mal eine Pause.
It’d be rude not to stop and soak up the views when they’re this good!
Auf die wenig befahrenen Straßen nach Pederü begab sich das Testteam gerne in der Gruppe.
Largely free of traffic, the road leading to Pederü allowed the test team to ride sociably.

After lengthy —some might say exhaustive— testing sessions, the jury reconvened with a selection of international journalists and the rest of the Award team. Evenings were spent at the impressive MMM Corones, a stunning high altitude feat of architecture by Zaha Hadid, heatedly discussing the status quo of the bike industry, future trends and where potential can be recognized, which was high on the agenda.

Das MMM Corones designed by Zaha Hadid bot den perfekten Rahmen für tief gehende Diskussionen über die Zukunft der Bike-Industrie.
Designed by Zaha Hadid, the MMM Corones was the ideal stage for in-depth discussions about the future of the bike industry.
An dieser Stelle geht ein besonderer Dank an Andrea Del Frari vom Tourismusverband Kronplatz für die hervorragende Unterstützung!
And this brings us to the perfect opportunity to thank Andrea Del Frari from the Kronplatz tourist board for the outstanding support.
In den eindrucksvollen Räumen des Museums gab es genug Raum, um in kleinen Gruppen einzelne Produkte zu analysieren und diskutieren.
The museum’s impressive rooms had plentiful space for the Award team to split into smaller group for even more in-depth analysis of individual products.

Yet the time for interaction, analysis and in-depth discussions weren’t limited to the time spent in MMM Corones. Within the plush surroundings of the Hotel Excelsior, which hosted the entire team throughout the Award, there were yet more smaller meetings and expert discussions taking place.

Die Räumlichkeiten des Hotel Excelsior wurden immer wieder für Besprechungen und Diskussionen genutzt.
The facilities of Hotel Excelsior saw discussion after discussion taking place.
Lado Fumic und Alex Thusbass im Gespräch über formales Design und Ästhetik.
Lado Fumic and Alex Thusbass discussing design and aesthetics.
Subjektive Testeindrücke wurden dank der Unterstützung von Jury-Mitglied Lotte Kraus von GebioMized mit objektiven Messdaten abgeglichen ...
Subjective findings from the tests were fused with objective stats thanks to the valued support of jury member Lotte Kraus from GebioMized …
… und das nicht nur Indoor, sondern auch auf der Straße.
… and those stats weren’t purely indoor-based, but also gained from real road testing.
Auch Cyclo-Cross-Profi Cody Kaiser war Teil der Expertenjury.
Cyclocross pro Cody Kaiser was a member of the expert jury too.

The surroundings of San Vigilio proved throughout the process exactly why they were the perfect choice for the Design & Innovation Award. Thanks to the breathtaking scenery, unbeatable infrastructure, and excellent support and – last but not least – the delectable food, the Awards couldn’t have found a better stage. But work aside, it’s a location that we’re already planning to return to –and next time at our own leisure.


We’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to Werner Call from Hotel Excelsior, oman and Thomas Erlacher from Sport Hotel Exclusive, Martin Resch from Tourismusverein San Vigilio/San Martin – Dolomites, Artur Costabiei from the Kronplatz ourist board and Andrea Del Frari from the Konsortium der Seilbeförderungsanlagen Skirama Kronplatz for all their support!

Click here for further information on the Design & Innovation Award 2016

Words: Christoph Bayer Pictures: Christoph Bayer, Ross Bell, Trevor Worsey

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