Bernhard Braun at the end of the 22/23 snow season.

Shredding Snow and Sharing Stories: A Day with Bernhard Braun from the film ‘Sinner Fields’

Back in 2023, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Bernhard Braun, a captivating presence in the epic ski film ‘Sinner Fields.’ As he graced the screen with his freeriding prowess, we delved deep into his world, unravelling the mysteries behind his mesmerising accent and the cultural quirks of his Bavarian heritage. Join us as we share his thrilling tales of adventure, his summertime escapes, and the secrets to his energy-packed freeride days. 

The Radical Reels 2023 program is now available to stream online at adventurereelstv.com

When it comes to Bernhard’s awe-inspiring freeriding skills in the film, we couldn’t help but ask about his journey to greatness. We praised his humorous touch in the movie but were utterly floored by his prowess on the slopes. So, we probed into the balance between park practice and freeriding finesse. Bernhard admitted that in his younger days, he dabbled in the park scene, though it never quite clicked for him. While he yearned to master the terrain park, he conceded that his skills remained firmly grounded in what he affectionately termed “the basics.” Over the years, it became an 85-15 ratio of freeriding to park for him, with all his mind-boggling tricks honed in the untamed backcountry. The park did lend a helping hand occasionally for training, but the heart and soul of his talent was bred in the wild.

Then, we delved into the mesmerising scenes in the film, some of which resembled heli-skiing adventures. Did helicopters and sleds play a part in capturing these breathtaking moments? Bernhard’s reply was a testament to his dedication to the craft. He revealed there were no helis, no snowmobiles; it was all about good old-fashioned ski touring missions and lift access combined with a bit of boot-packing for good measure. Bernhard’s deep appreciation for the majestic Kaunertal mountains shone through as he underlined the sheer natural beauty and adventure found in this magnificent terrain.

If we could come to Germany or Austria for freeriding, where would you recommend us to go?

“First tip: Don’t go to Germany. Austria is the place to be. And in my opinion it’s Kaunertal Glacier in Tyrol around March – April. The good snow high up is waiting in the NE and NW aspects where the sun makes it around this time of the year. Without destroying it due to the flat angle. For high alpine skiing it’s just wonderful. Little crowds and great inbounds terrain and if you are keen to make a few metres on the touring setup – damn, we are talking!”

Have you ever been injured and lost out there in a remote place?

“What is remote, right? But there is one story I can share. Me and a friend once had to call the emergency once when we were younger, around 16 years old. Not because we were injured or located so remote. In fact it happened quite close to the ski resort. We just entered a gully full of boulders on a crazy deep powder day. We got around 1,5 metres of fresh blower powder in the two previous days and of course it happened on our last run down to the valley. After a pillow run of our lifetime we ended up on top of a 20 metre frozen waterfall. No way to make it down. There we realised that we must have entered one gully too early. We tried to bootpack back up but the snow was so deep and the boulders had pretty big hollow spaces in between them where we always broke into. So we couldn’t really make any metres. It became dark, heavy snowfall kicked in and after a few hours we were so exhausted. We realised that the emergency call is our only chance to not spend the night in -10° on 2000 metres of elevation. Due to the bad weather the heli couldn’t fly so we got rescued by 10 mountain rescuers sidestepping down the gully, compressing the snow so we would have a chance to hike back up on that track. It still took us more than two hours to get out of there. At that time I wasn’t even a member of the German mountain club and so I didn’t have any insurance covering rescue costs. In the end I paid the next two years every month around 100€ for that dumb mistake. That was the last time I dialled the emergency number into my phone. – Knocking on wood”.

'Powder' by Dominik Tauber.
‘Powder’ by Dominik Tauber.

Have you been overseas for skiing (Canada, Japan etc)?

“I always dreamed about skiing those magical places and yes, I have been to Canada and Japan several times. Season 22-23 was really bad in the alps so I spent three weeks in Hokkaido. I even got to visit Kashmir (India) to ski the Himalayas in 2018. I always admired the lucky people skiing these perfect powder pillow lines in the old MSP movies so I had to tick a few boxes for myself. The only thing left on my bucket list is a proper heli trip to the Alaskan spine lines. Fingers crossed that this big dream will become reality one day.”

On the exhilarating slopes of a freeride day, Bernhard’s focus isn’t on the culinary delights, but rather on conquering the majestic mountains. He starts his day with a hearty breakfast, a scene captured in the film, which fuels his adventures. Surprisingly, he’s not one for frequent snacking during skiing escapades. His adrenaline-fueled endeavours keep him so engrossed that thoughts of food often fade away until the evening hours. Yet, being prepared for any circumstance, he wisely keeps a few essentials in his backpack. Nestled among his gear are small candies and a trusty power bar, serving as his lifeline on those particularly exhausting days. These compact snacks, while modest in size, pack a punch, providing him with the energy needed to continue carving through the snow-laden slopes. And as the day winds down, there’s a sweet anticipation of returning to his van, where he hopes to find his girlfriend preparing a delicious, well-deserved dinner, a perfect ending to his adrenaline-charged adventures.

His charming accent has become a favourite among viewers, prompting us to inquire about its reception in Germany. Bernard shared his surprise at how his accent and accompanying humour have resonated not just with Germans but also with people worldwide. He revealed that the charm was initially tailored for his fellow countrymen, especially the proud Bavarians. In the grand debate of German vs. Bavarian, Bernhard shed light on the playful rivalry, insisting it’s more about the Bavarians versus the rest of Germany. Their deep love for their dialect, culture, food, and beer makes Bavarians fiercely proud, even if it results in good-natured banter with the rest of the nation.

'Sinner Fields' by Lukas Ian Cairns
‘Sinner Fields’ by Lukas Ian Cairns

Can you explain the sentence ‘do I spider how much can it snow’? We know about spiders, but not in this context, and not in the snow.

“Haha cool that you ask because it’s one of my favourite parts of the movie and I knew that only the German speaking audience would get the joke. So what it basically means is something like “I think I’m going nuts“ (I can’t believe what’s happening). In German we use the expression of “Ich (I) glaube (think) ich (I) spinne (going nuts)“. The fun part is that in German the word “spinne“ has two meanings. On one side it’s what I just explained: “going nuts“. And on the other side it means “spider“ (the animal). So if you would directly translate the German sentence into English and from it as a question it would be “Do I spider?“ – “Am I going nuts?”.

What do you do in summer?

“I spend a lot of time in the Austrian alps hiking and biking but a few years ago surfing became my big summer-passion. So I travel a lot to catch some good waves. The last two years I spent 2-3 months in Indonesia and in September-October I drove down with „Hubsi ” in my camper van to the Spanish Atlantic coast. I love it down there. No big tourism, tons of good surf spots and camping at the beautiful coastline is just stunning. I guess you guys in Australia are pretty familiar with this way of living. 

If the question was more meant like what do you work in summer / How do you make money? – I managed to make a living from skiing. Soon I want to start some other job or business but for now it just feels good to do what I love and enjoy summer. Since I was working hard in summer for many years in different jobs to afford skiing the whole winter season (building bike parks, industrial as well as carpenter jobs). I now want to enjoy the fact that I don’t necessarily have to do that anymore. At least for a few years.”

Image by Lukas Ian Cairns
Image by Lukas Ian Cairns

Why do Germans want so much foam on their beer?

This is a mix of quality control and science. First of all it is a sign of the beer being fresh and sparkling. It didn’t spend a lot of time at the bar waiting for delivery. The foam also prevents the beer from getting splashed over the rim of the glass. Since there often is a lot of action going on in the Bavarian beer tents when the party is on it definitely is a thing to consider. I think the whole world knows about the drinking etiquette at the Bavarian „Oktoberfest“. And last but not least the foam acts as an aromatic cover of the beer. Flavours, taste and also CO2 will stay longer inside the beer. For us in Bavaria it also just looks beautiful to have this lush crown of foam on our beer. Quality before quantity!

Can you teach us one Bavarian sentence we can impress with on a ski trip?

One for drinking a good foamy Bavarian beer:

“Ist der Ruf erst ruiniert, säuft sich’s völlig ungeniert! Prost!“

Means: Once the image is ruined, drinking becomes quite unembarrassed! Cheers!

One for dropping into a spicy ski run:

“Scheiß da nix, dann seid da nix!“

Means: If you don’t think too much, you will be fine!

And that wraps up our interview with Bernhard Braun, a big thanks to him for taking the time to chat with us all the way from Germany!

The Radical Reels 2023 program is now available to stream online at adventurereelstv.com where you can watch Bernhard’s film ‘Sinner Fields’ and so much more.

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