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Shapers and their world

Building obstacles, ensuring safe skiing and snowboarding fun or organising events: the crew at the Snowpark Grindelwald – First works day and night so that the snowboard and freeski community can take off.

Gian Simmen: Olympic champion with a dream job

To coincide with the winter season, Gian Simmen will be the general manager at Snowpark Grindelwald – First: "It's a dream job. There are perhaps one or two jobs like this in Switzerland," says the man who became the first Olympic halfpipe champion in 1998. With his new job in Grindelwald, not only can he use his snowboarding skills, but also his skills as a marketing specialist. "I would like to make the park more interesting for every skill level and to communicate the great events in the park even better," says Simmen. He sees his own name as a door opener, but also as an obligation – he has never rested on his laurels.

Reto Marolf: experienced headshaper

When Reto Marolf began working at Snowpark Grindelwald – First in 2008, he was mainly used by snowboarders who wanted to go high up: "We mostly built big things," remembers the headshaper, who is responsible for all obstacles and their safety. More and more freeskiers continued to come, and since then the crowd has been mixed: families trying their first jumps, clubs doing their training sessions, and even advanced skiers don't miss out on the fun. Marolf and his team of five make sure that everyone gets their money's worth. On the Oberjoch, the shapers build a park with warm-up elements, and on the Bärgelegg they create a world for advanced skiers and experts. In the evening, he and his team maintain the elements with shovels and rakes before the PistenBully mills the remaining areas. Every morning, Marolf checks all the elements before opening the park.

Pascal Hallauer: PistenBully driver with passion

Even as a child, Pascal Hallauer could watch as the PistenBullies prepared the descents. Now, he sits in the vehicle every day. In the evenings, after the last guests have left Snowpark Grindelwald – First, he and his PistenBully colleagues prepare the halfpipe with special equipment, push snow around for new obstacles or level out well worn areas. Using the colossus weighing around eight tonnes, he can do a fine job. "When needed, it is accurate to the centimetre," says Hallauer. As a freeskier, he knows exactly what is important when jumping off and landing. He remembers his first day in the PistenBully very well: "I was completely overwhelmed by all the buttons and levers," says the trained carpenter. But not for long. In the evening of the same day, Hallauer prepared his first run.