The 49th Mountain Guide Ski Championships that took place from the 25th to 28th of April 2024 welcomed around 119 mountain guides (from the USA, Italy, France, Austria, Spain, Germany and Switzerland) and their 48 partners to this traditional event in the Saanenland. Unfavourable weather forecasts forced the organizers to change the programme at short notice.

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Organize, act, react and improvise
These were the key words used by the OC President, Arnold Hauswirth, to describe the development of this event at the opening last Friday. Everything was organized and ready to hold the races in the Glaciers 3000 area. And then the Föhn came into play. Due to the predicted strong gusts of wind on race day, it was not possible to hold the race in the glacier area. That was on Tuesday evening. They had to react immediately and improvise so that the event did not have to be canceled. They contacted those responsible at BDG (Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad). Thanks to their flexible approach, the various competitions were able to take place after all. Thanks to the great efforts of BDG employees, the Lochstafel ski lift on the Hornberg, which had already been shut down, was reactivated. The ski lift brackets that had already been dismantled were hung up again, the snow groomers were started and the slopes prepared. A big thank you for BDG's commitment.

And now to the event...

Ski tour on Thursday
Representatives of the IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations) met in Gstaad for five days. To break up the administrative work, they undertook a ski tour with local mountain guides in the Col du Pillon Arnensee area last Thursday.

Ski tour on Friday
On Friday morning, ski tours were offered in three levels of difficulty. This offer was also very popular. Witteberghore with Armin Oehrli, the Walighürli with Adolf Schlunegger and the Walliserwispile with Hansueli Marti.

Parade on Friday
Friday afternoon was the day. The mountain guides,  gathered for the opening ceremony. They set off from the sports center to Kapälliplatz. The procession was led by two two-horse carriages with the guests of honor. They were welcomed with the sound of the alphorn. The ceremony was then opened by the OC president, Arnold Hauswirth, in German and Jeremy Pernet, mountain guide Gstaad-Lenk, in French with the above-mentioned key words. Toni von Grünigen, Mayor of Saanen, addressed those present with a quote from the Austrian singer-songwriter Hubert von Goisern: "When mountains are there, I know I can go up there to get a new perspective on life from the top". The speeches were concluded by IFMGA/IVBV board member Hampi Schoop, who announced that "the games of the International Mountain Guide Ski Championships in Saanenland are open".

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Competitions on Saturday
For the race day, the OC organized shuttle transports from the Saanersloch parking lot to Lochstafel. The terrain was perfect for the races in the various categories (giant slalom, fun event and ascent race). Although the running times were a little short, the winners were those who are always at the front anyway!

After the races, the participants were treated to a delicious meal in the Lochstafel restaurant, which was also opened spontaneously by the mountain guide association. With musical entertainment, a cozy get-together, talking shop and lots of laughter, the race day came to an end far too soon for many and they had to take the shuttle bus back down to the valley. Because the gala evening was coming up.

Incidentally, the weather forecast with lots of wind came true. The lifts at Glacier 3000 could not be put into operation on Saturday.

Rankings at:

Gala evening at the end
The 49th International Mountain Guide Ski Championships 2024 concluded in style with a gala evening and the ranking ceremony in the festival tent with around 280 participants (including sponsors and helpers). Armin Oehrli, standing in for the president of the OC with an ailing voice, led the evening program in a confident manner. Between courses, the mayor of Lauenen, Ruth Oehrli-Pekoll, addressed the attendees with sympathetic words and the Walker band played musical entertainment from time to time. After the ranking announcements for the various categories, the OC president received a gift from Hampi Schoop, IFMGA, as thanks for the excellent organisation. It was then time for Arnold Hauswirth to thank everyone once again. First and foremost to his OC colleagues, sponsors, helpers and in particular to all those who had contributed to the worthy event in a flexible and uncomplicated manner.

A visibly relieved Arnold Hauswirth concluded: "I am very pleased that we achieved the goal we had set for the OC to our complete satisfaction despite the capricious weather. "
Just: abnormal and unbelievable.

Marianne Tschanz-Rieder