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Zauchensee in Austria: skiing with the world champion

Lthe Bulli slowly winds towards the snow-covered Tauern. The spring-like green of the Austrian Salzach Valley is getting more and more white spots, and when we have passed the snow line, everything around us is white.

The excitement increases in the car, especially with mom. Since the children were born, they haven’t really got into skiing. And that hurts when you grew up near the mountains.

So now finally the chance: Paula and Monika are five and ten years old and ready for the second ski course of their lives. And dad? He has only completed one course in life. Will he still get the curve in his mid-40s? The skill is distributed quite differently.


Source: WORLD infographic

So that everyone learns as much as possible in a short time, the goal was “Zauchenseehof” ausgeguckt. The family hotel belongs to Michael Walchhofer, 2003 Downhill World Champion. He also takes care of his guests on the slopes and has announced that he will race down his favorite slopes with those who can ski well.

Day 1: Family hotel at the ski lift

Mummy: The village of Zauchensee seems to consist almost entirely of hotels. At first I don’t see the lake, but I do see snow-covered slopes that begin directly behind the hotel. Ideal. From the inside, the “Familotel” is like a large labyrinth. Something huge for my taste, but it also has a very extensive children’s landscape.

Skiing in Austria: The author with his family in the Austrian Zauchensee

Finally snow: the author with his family in the Austrian Zauchensee

Source: Marcel Pfeiffer

Monika: I think the swimming pool is mega, it’s like a cave. I can’t decide now whether I want to go skiing or stay at the hotel. The chill lounge for teenagers is cool, and this really high climbing wall. And this blatant slide through three floors! But childcare is only for babies …

Paula: My favorite thing is the ball pool! And the daycare. But tomorrow I want to get out in the snow because I want to learn to ski. And every child gets a child’s cup. Where can I fill it up?

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Father: Finally snow … after the gray winter. And this Walchhofermichel is a good guy. He is the youngest of six children. “Then my parents said: Let them go shi foan,” he jokes in greeting.

He is now 44 years old, his hair is thinning, and instead of skiing professionally, Michel now has to work too – he runs the hotel. He succeeds well, that’s my first impression: For us, in any case, the combination of all-round care for children, a connected ski school and chair lift right behind the house is just the thing.

Day 2: As a beginner in the snow

Mummy: With the gondola directly from the hotel up to the Rosskopf, 1930 meters. I feel the cold and enjoy the sound that my skis mill in the snow. I want to feel the wind when I’m driving at full speed. But let’s start slowly, otherwise my husband won’t come along.

Father: “Easter snow today,” someone had said in the hotel. I only learn what it is up here: sticky pampe, a catastrophe for beginners. The snow sucks me down, I keep falling. I get so scared that I go to practice in the “Easy Park” in the afternoon. In the bright sunshine I’m the only adult between a handful of children – apparently the worst driver in the ski area.

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Monika: I drove once, the ones in my group are much better. That was pretty exciting, I also crashed there more often. In the evening I was still climbing in the children’s area and at the magic show …

Paula: … yes, he made a ball float and put a lot of plastic in his mouth! I sometimes fell over while skiing, but the cool thing was that I almost always managed to make the corners and gates.

Day 3: With world champion Michael Walchhofer on the slopes

Mummy: Fresh snow and clouds. I’m on the trail with Moni as early as possible. Works great. The world champion is already waiting downstairs. The Moni can’t keep up with that yet, so she stalks over to her ski course. I, on the other hand, drive up the Tauernkar with a handful of brave fast drivers.

From 1890 meters above sea level, our gaze wanders over the World Cup arena Zauchensee, the valley with its many slopes lies in front of us like an amphitheater. Then Michael Walchhofer gives a sign and off we go down the black slope.

Skiing with world champion Michael Walchhofer in Zauchensee (Austria)

Pausing for a photo – despite the love for speed, Michael Walchhofer often has to when fans speak to him

Source: pa / dpa-tmn / Verena Wolff

Waving just a few meters behind the elegant turns of Walchhofers requires all my skills, but luckily I’ve been on skis since I was little. I imagine that I can keep up with the world champion and feel how the happiness hormones spread in me. When we also finished the World Cup run under the Gamskogel after almost an hour, I have the feeling that not only me, but also the time is running out.

Monika: It works great. When we have all red slopes through, I should try a black one. On the second day! Fortunately, mom and dad just happen to come by and say it’s okay. So I dare. So steep – really cool!

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Father: There he stands in front of me, Peter, all in red, beautifully mature and wrinkled, with huge mirrored ski goggles. My savior – a robust ski instructor. And indeed: Peter does everything right. He quickly takes my fear away, explains a lot. Driving posture, falling lines, use of poles – I did a lot wrong yesterday.

It’s fun again. Afterwards I feel muscles in places where I didn’t even know I had them. Only a steam bath can help. Fortunately, the little one is still in the hotel daycare, which gives me in my forties a little time to lick my wounds.

Paula: Today I only want childcare. In the snow carousel with Happy, that is such a large disguised figure, it is so funny. And then bake cakes! One of the guys who always annoyed me has now even become my friend.

Day 4: After the ski course there is Kaiserschmarrn

Father: Last night we had a hearty evening in the Felser hut. Two young locals came in with a pinch chest, drank a lot of whiskey and smashed Austropop songs: “I want to do it again, I feel it all so …”.

Despite a slight hangover, I attack again today and book an extra day ski course. Peter repeats the right swing with us umpteen times until he sits. The whole thing is almost meditative.

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Mummy: Taking care of the children, the man in the ski course – these are a few rare hours of real freedom for me. Of course we could also have booked a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the winter landscape to Altenmarkt, but today I only want to be one thing: a selfish woman on the two boards that mean the world.

Who knows when such slopes will come again? So up to the Roßkopf, a view of the valley into which the Tauern tunnel opens, and then past three alpine huts down to Flachauwinkl. For my taste there could be more black slopes, but it’s a family trip, fits.

Monika: I am so tired from driving a lot, today I just race down the slopes with Daddy once in the morning. He’s doing quite well, but is really too lame for me. What is he so afraid of?

Paula: I don’t want a ski course today. Better again ball pool. And then we go out to eat with Papa Kaiserschmarrn. There is such a hut, it is soooo delicious! And then I’m looking forward to home. But it’s a shame that there is never snow …

Skiing in Austria: In Zauchensee, children don't just have fun on the slopes

Children have fun on the slopes in Zauchensee

Source: © Altenmarkt-Zauchensee Tourism

Tips and information for Austria

Getting there: For example with Lufthansa or euro Wings to Salzburg, from there by rental car or bus (salzburg-verkehr.at) on to Zauchensee. By train from southern Germany (Munich, Augsburg, Ulm, Stuttgart) to Radstadt. By car via the A8 and the Tauern Autobahn A10 to Ennstal (Exit 63 – Graz / Altenmarkt) and then to Altenmarkt.

Accommodation: “Familienhotel Zauchenseehof”, with childcare and ski school, double room with half board for 2 people from 315 euros, zauchenseehof.com; “Hotel Salzburger Hof”, double room with breakfast for 2 people from 285 euros, salzburgerhof.net; “Alpen Apartments Zauchensee”, 21 suites for up to eight holiday guests at the lake, from 66 euros, alpen-appartements.at

Ski Area: Zauchensee-Flachauwinkl-Kleinarl belongs to the “Ski amadé” ski region and has 25 lifts and over 70 kilometers of slopes.

Ski lessons from professionals: Michael Walchhofer from the “Familienhotel Zauchenseehof” is part of a number of prominent, former ski professionals who offer exclusive ski courses: On the Ehrwalder Alm in Tyrol, triple Olympic champion Niki Hosp and deep snow world champion Peter Larcher offer their help. The multiple German slalom master Michaela Gerg teaches in her own ski school on Brauneck in Upper Bavaria. In the Swiss canton of Glarus you can book private lessons with the multiple slalom Olympic champion Vreni Schneider. The “Stanglwirt” resort in Kitzbühel is the ski resort with Fritz Strobl, the Olympic champion and record holder on the legendary Streif run. And in the Carinthian Kaiserburg ski area, Franz Klammer, the downhill Olympic champion in 1976, teaches practice lessons on a slope named after him.

Information desk: zauchensee.at

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The participation in the trip was supported by Familotel. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit,


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