Until now, the cross-country skiing season in Engelberg began sometime in December - when, for example, people in Davos have already been training on the four-kilometre-long "snowfarming trail". But if Mother Holle has her way, the season in Engelberg will also start earlier this year. The Titlisbahnen are endeavouring to open the training track on Trübsee as early as November. This is open to hobby skiers as well as ambitious athletes.
Engelberg is on the move
In Engelberg, the Nordic Commission, which was set up two years ago, is campaigning for the cross-country skiing. Roger Bütler and Eskil Läubli as co-presidents are the big drivers. When they hear the word commission, many people expect a rigid structure in which long discussions are held and little is achieved. "We are all members with a lot of emotions and enthusiasm for cross-country skiing. We want to promote cross-country skiing in Engelberg," counters Roger Bütler.
Swiss Championships on the Gerschnialp
And indeed, what the commission has achieved in just two years is something to be proud of. The course on the Gerschnialp was newly homologated so that it is FIS-compatible. Already for the coming winter (2/3 February and 29-31 March 2019), the commission was able to bring the cross-country skiing elite Swiss championship to the attractive course. "For sporty guests, this completely new route is a very exciting affair. You can train where the Swiss cross-country skiing elite also compete," says Nadia Christen, Technical Director of the Swiss Ski School Engelberg Titlis AG.
Cross-country trail in the middle of the village
Webcams have been installed on all Engelberg cross-country trails, giving cross-country skiers an impression of the snow conditions already at home. "We were also able to expand the night trail and improve the lighting," says Bütler, listing another improvement initiated by the commission. With Walter Hurschler, the former Nordic combined athlete, a technical manager for Nordic was hired to act as an interface between the municipality and the trail users. In addition to the improved network of trails, a completely new, short section of trail was added in the Kloster/Erlen area - which every guest sees immediately when arriving in the village and makes cross-country skiing palatable.
Everyone joins in
The local ski schools, sports retailers and hotels also join in and push the sport. You can feel an enormous amount of passion for cross-country skiing among everyone involved. How well the individual stakeholders work together in cross-country skiing can be seen, for example, at the Nordic Opening. This event on Sunday, 9 December is intended to really launch the cross-country skiing season. Local sports retailers will offer a free cross-country test and cross-country instructors from Prime Mountain Sports and the Swiss Ski School will give tips and instructions. In addition, those interested can try out biathlon, and hotels offer overnight packages.
Olympic skier as figurehead
And the village will also cater for the next generation. While Lena Häcki, biathlete and Olympic participant with two diplomas (8th in the pursuit, 6th in the team), already knows how to hold her own at the top of the world, around 90 children train in cross-country skiing and biathlon at the Nordic Engelberg club. Some talents are already on the verge of a breakthrough - but the joint Engelberg commitment to cross-country skiing should inspire many more children and adults to take up the sport.
Andrea Hurschler started cross-country skiing about twelve years ago. Because the sport was anything but cool back then, she mainly went out on the cross-country track in the dark. Today, she no longer has to hide and enjoys meeting up with friends for cross-country skiing. She is therefore very pleased that Engelberg is increasingly becoming a cross-country skiing destination.
Photo: Oskar Enander