"This is now my 54th season in Zermatt," says Peter Kronig. He has been working for the Swiss Ski & Snowboard School of Zermatt since 1957. He speaks with care, in a confident tone. Even though he is now a man of mature age and looks like a well-trained sixty-year-old, he epitomizes a ski instructor: handsome, charming, courteous, always correct. He has a lot of technical knowledge about skiing. But he would never divulge too much of this to anyone. He is the type that motivates as opposed to stipulates.
Private guests that have been coming for decades
Peter Kronig is one of those ski instructors that rarely works directly for the Swiss Ski & Snowboard school in Zermatt, on the contrary, he brings guests in: "I have already brought many guests to the ski school," he says. He has regular customers who have been coming to him every winter for decades. "A Frenchman has been coming for 30 years, now he comes with his children and grandchildren," he says modestly smiling, and one can sense that there is a friendship there - not just a relationship between a ski instructor and a client. Peter Kronig looks after the Germans, British, Americans, French and Russians. "I learned to speak English in England with seventeen and French in France with eighteen, each a summer long, he recalls. But it is not just an understanding of languages that is required, but also manners. He knows that "Whoever is not correct and hospitable, soon has no more guests." The instructor is often not just a teacher, but also a companion, someone to chat with, good company.
On the slopes with the celebrities
It took a little time until Peter Kronig admitted in a modest tone: "Yes, I taught David Bowie how to ski." However, he would never disclose any details. He has also introduced film directors, musicians, and bankers to the art of skiing. He is still in regular contact with some of them. It is phenomenal how charmingly he circumvents the subject to reveal as little as possible about his famous guests.
If his protégés request it, he will also ski elsewhere. In Gstaad or St. Moritz. Courchevel and Val d'Isere in France, in Aspen or Vail in Colorado, Whistler in Canada, Dear or Squaw Valley in Utah and California. He even went heliskiing in Canada, "but during the pioneering days, the late 60s," he says.
Zermatt: The ideal ski resort
When Peter Kronig makes an appraisal, then one is inclined to believe him unconditionally. When it comes to the ski resort of Zermatt, he states with deliberation: "From a skiing point of view there are many good resorts in the world. But because of the panorama and the mountains, Zermatt is just unbeatable", he says enthusiastically. He can also cherry-pick for his guests. Then he recounts the best places to go for certain conditions. For technically good skiers it can also be Val d’Isère / Tignes, Courchevel / Méribel / Val Thorens, and for those who enjoy the social side it is also Lech or St. Anton. But he adds: "It depends on what the guest wants."
Skiing, it’s a matter of feeling
Peter Kronig was one of the pioneers of ski instruction: "We had taught ourselves through the sense of movement on the skis and through imitation the things we used to teach", he recalls. When he graduated from the official ski instructor course at the age of 19, he had to "first learn what I already did", he says mischievously. Of course, he trained further and put a lot of thought into how to communicate what he knew. That is how he got to know a tennis teacher in the United States in 1975, he says. He was the famous best-selling author in coaching, business and sport-performance literature, Timothy Gallway, who has written books such as "The inner game of Tennis", " The inner game of Golf " or "Inner Skiing". For Peter Kronig, the central issue is still: Having selfconciousness for the edges of the skis, for the snow and the pists. Being led by a good ski instructor one can learn how to ski in realivly short time.
He knows about the developments in skiing: "The big change came with the short carving skis," he says. "It has simplified everything. But one can not ski with its mind, only with the feeling. Out of the feeling one enjoys and gets the largely praised rhythm, also called breakthrough. The dance on the skis". Of course he would say as much to a guest with far more diplomacy and tact, at the right time in their training.
Will you never tire of being a ski instructor? "No, being a ski instructor is a beautiful and challenging profession. You are always engaged with different people", says the man born in 1937: "But today I prefer to ski only for enjoying skiing and the mountains."
The pioneers are in Zermatt
There are eight ski and snowboard schools in Zermatt that offer their services. The Matterhorn Ski & Snowboard School in Zermatt / Schweizer Skischule was founded in 1929. That makes it a pioneer and Switzerland's oldest ski school. It brings together over 260 free ski instructors, most of them from Zermatt itself. They all wear the famous red uniform of the Swiss ski teachers. The school is run by Ralph Schmidhalter and Alex Läx Taugwalder. Läx Taugwalder won gold in the giant slalom at the Ski World Championship at the end of January 2013. The ski school has the best instructor in the world. No wonder!