Reporter Florian Kinast and photographer Thomas Linkel met the cross-country skier, who has been awarded eleven Olympic medals, on and off the cross-country track at Winklmoos-Alm
The cross-country skiing legend
Sometimes Tobias Angerer does his rounds on the Hochberg. On his home trail in Traunstein, a 12.5-kilometre loop that they also named after him, the Tobias-Angerer-Loipe. Time and again he is out and about on the many cross-country trails down in Reit im Winkl.
But he is particularly often drawn upwards on days off, to the sunny high plateau of the Winklmoos-Alm. "My absolute favourite place," says the former world-class cross-country skier over a midday half-sip of a bike in front of the terrace of the "Traunsteiner Hütte". Winklmoos-Alm is "the place where I feel at home, in harmony with myself and with nature."
Winklmoos-Alm: Sun Terrace of the Chiemgau
The sunny terrace of the Chiemgau lies at an altitude of just under 1,200 metres. Rosi Mittermaier grew up there, the Golden Rosi, one of the most successful German skiers of all time. As a child, he himself was more interested in cross-country skiing than in alpine skiing, Tobias Angerer says.
As a four-year-old, he had already escaped and stumbled into the eight-kilometre cross-country ski trail behind his parents' house in Traunstein. How great the anxiety was among the worried parents who then found him after dark and retrieved him. Soon they were no longer worried. Soon they knew: Tobi can do it.
Tobias Angerer became one of the world's best cross-country skiers. He won the overall World Cup in 2006 and 2007 and won eleven medals in his long career between 2001 and 2014 at the Winter Olympics and World Championships, six times silver, five times bronze. For years he travelled around the world for his competitions, from Sapporo to Salt Lake City.
"They were great successes and great experiences," says Tobias Angerer in retrospect. "But a great moment of happiness for me was always when I saw Lake Chiemsee again for the first time on the way home from the airport at Bernauer Berg. Then I knew and felt: now you're home again."
"And it was quite clear that we would take our rubbish back with us."
Respectful treatment of nature
As much as he is connected to his homeland and rooted here in Chiemgau, it was a matter of course in his parents' home to treat this so beautiful and paradisiacal nature with respect.
"As a boy, I spent a lot of time in the mountains with my parents, whether in summer or winter," says Tobias Angerer. "And it was very clear that we had to make sure that we took our rubbish back with us and didn't leave anything lying around. It's incomprehensible to me that some people just leave their stuff by the side of the path after a snack. Sometimes you really have to wonder why." Because it not only pollutes the environment, but "because aluminium and beverage cans, paper and plastic are also a real danger for the local flora and fauna.
Especially at the Winklmoos-Alm, nature was always a great adventure playground for Tobias Angerer, where there was a lot to explore and discover. They were often there because his uncle was a carpenter at the time, rebuilding and renovating the "Traunsteiner Hütte". Sometimes they sent him on a mushroom hunt, so Tobias Angerer learned early on which mushrooms were called what, and under which tree the most stately porcini grew.
Teaching children nature awareness
With his wife Romy, their daughters Karlotta and Ioanna and son Jonathan, Tobias Angerer takes every opportunity to go out into nature, even in winter. To teach them how unique and valuable it is.
"We only have our world once," says Angerer, "so we all have to do our bit to leave it as healthy and intact as possible for the next generations." Hardly any sport fits these values as well as cross-country skiing, says Tobias Angerer, where the designated trails lead gently through the landscape without disturbance and also without any necessary construction work.
Cross-country skiing: Sustainable winter sports
"An extremely nature-friendly sport that is only fun on the groomed and designated trails," says Angerer. "Who likes to run across country and off-track through the forest on thin cross-country skis. That gives neither the cross-country skier nor nature any pleasure."
Of course, the Angerers go cross-country skiing all the time to exercise, to keep body and mind alert and to actively strengthen the immune system. Cross-country skiing is the ideal sport for this, says Angerer. "Whether in the classic style or in skating, it's an optimal training for basic endurance. For the cardiovascular system as well as for the muscles in the arms, legs and upper body, for coordination and motor skills".
Fascination of the mountains
Tobias Angerer could never imagine living anywhere else. "I need the mountains," he says after a last sip of Radler (beer with soda), "even if I was never the great climber and peak conqueror who always had to go up. Ski tours have never appealed to me either. It has always been enough for me to simply look at the mountains, which have been standing like that since time began and yet look different every day, depending on the light and wind and weather. I will never be able to escape this fascination."
Tobias' four cross-country skiing rules
- Beginners should always start with the classic parallel style, preferably in a course with a ski instructor. "That way they learn the right techniques to get as far as possible with as little effort as possible. Only when you feel safe and stable there and have found the right feeling for the ski and stability, do I recommend starting with the skating technique.
- The right clothing is important. Breathable cross-country skiing clothing that you can use in any weather is best. They must fit well, should not be too tight, but also not too loose and baggy. You shouldn't be too warm, as you will quickly start to sweat.
- To make it fun, everyone has to assess for themselves how far they can go. Especially for long distances or large circular loops, it is better to take a break early on and turn back before you run out of steam and the way back becomes too arduous and difficult.
- Most trails are prepared late in the afternoon or evening, so that they freeze overnight. Therefore, please do not get on your cross-country skis in the evening after preparations are completed, as this will leave the cross-country skiers with a trail in poor condition the next morning.