Josef Schandl and the cross-country ski tracks
He has the most beautiful workplace in the world: Josef Schandl is a snow groomer in Leutasch. He and his team are the invisible heroes who provide the best trails. Even before the sun rises, they groom the perfect trails. Josef told us why he wouldn’t want to trade his job for any other one.
Tak-Zisch, Tak-Zisch, Tak-Zisch … In this rhythm the cross-country skiers in Leutasch make their rounds over the cross-country tracks. In tact, they glide through the snow-covered winter landscape. Josef Schandl, on the other hand, hears a completely different sound as he drives over the trails: a soft hum. He doesn’t stand on 42mm wide skis, but sits in a 7-ton snowcat. The 253 hp machine is busy working its way forward – leaving behind the perfect track.
“Preparing the perfect cross-country ski tracks is true precision work,” Josef says.
The former carpenter has been working in summer and winter for 15 years. “That’s my passion,” he enthuses. “There I am in nature, I couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful”.
245 kilometres of cross-country skiing fun
There are a total of 245 kilometres of cross-country trails to prepare in the Olympiaregion Seefeld – every day and even several times a day if there is fresh snow. Cross-country skiers shall always find the best track. To ensure that this works smoothly, every snow groomer has his own trails for which he is responsible. Josef’s round is one of the most beautiful the region has to offer: From the Leutasch to the Möserer See. “But my favourite cross-country ski run is the Muggenmoos,” he says.
Josef covers no less than 43 kilometres every day. In order to prepare both the skating and the classic track, he sometimes rides some routes several times. So the working day begins early: “In winter we start at 6 o’clock in the morning,” says Josef. Every day, there is no weekend. But he doesn’t mind getting up early – he even likes it. Accompanied by the quiet hum of the Pistenbully, he drives towards the sunrise. Just him, his machine and from time to time a deer or fox jumping away from them. Could a workplace be any more beautiful than that…?
„You feel like a king in these machines!“, Josef laughs.
With High Tech to the best cross-country ski tracks
Every snow groomer knows his tracks inside out. They know every branch, every curve in their sleep. Nevertheless, a good preparation for the season and best technique is necessary to prepare the trails precisely and perfectly. The work on the trails therefore begins even before the first snow has fallen. “In autumn, we set the wooden sticks that we use to orient ourselves, and the signs,” Josef knows. In addition, branches and trees have to be cleared from the paths, bridges have to be built or removed. As soon as the first snow arrives, holes and humps have to be filled to have smooth tracks throughout the season.
The first track: After the first snow fall, the work on the tracks has begun.
On the cross-country ski tracks Josef is supported by strong technology: The machines are equipped with the SnowSat system. Here he can see exactly where he drove last year. The exact snow height is also displayed. This way, he always stays on track.
With an average speed of 16km/h the machine moves over the cross-country ski tracks. The perfect speed to admire the winter landscape at the same time.
Josef and his colleagues always try hard to prepare the perfect tracks – and the cross-country skiers often thank them for that. Sometimes the skiers stop and call out nice things to him or clap their hands while he is grooming the tracks.
„They are really enjoying it!“, says Josef. „And looking into their smiling faces makes me really happy, too!“
FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Seefeld 2019
Seefeld was the proud host of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Seefeld 2019 (Feburary 19th – March 3rd). During the World Championships there was a lot to do for Josef and his colleagues: The world’s best athletes shall find the world’s best cross-country trails! You can find all information about the World Championships here!
Fotos: Fabrice Dall’Anese, Tessa Mellinger, Tirol Werbung, Stephan Elsler