23 February 2024
Post originally written in: Deutsch Information An automatic machine translation. Super fast and almost perfect.

The barn with the ski rental on Igl's village square is getting a bit long in the tooth. It has been around for almost 50 years. Ski instructor Wolfgang Platzer, who actually retired a long time ago, has been here even longer. Like every day, he opens the store today. And because I want to try skiing again after about 20 years in other sports, I'm already waiting at the door. The old pro just laughs, pours me a glass of tap water and gets going straight away.

His father still built real wooden skis in the workshop at the back, and in 1972 Wolfgang started the rental business snowsport IGLS at the front. How well do you ski? He asks everyone that question. The answer is almost always the same: Yes, quite good! And every time, Wolfgang smiles an experienced ski instructor smile: "Because Marcel Hirscher, for example, also skis "quite well". Now think about it: How long did it take you as a child to be able to walk well and then run properly? Skiing looks simple (see Hirscher), but it is a highly complex process (see Hirscher). You don't learn to ski well overnight. At least 30 percent of your overall success is down to your equipment - the rest is down to skill.

The silk sock in the ski boot

The equipment has to match the requirements, explains Wolfgang and measures my feet. Length times width in so-called mondo points. These in turn correspond to centimetres, and Wolfgang nonchalantly waves off the fact that I usually slither around in 42s: You're a 27/0, you can see that straight away! I still get half a size smaller. A professional psychological trick, because then the next one fits perfectly. On the one hand, the boot controls the power transmission to the ski, on the other hand, the safety binding should also release correctly in the event of a fall. If you have too much play in the boot, the ski will do what it wants later on. Wolfgang recommends just a single pair of ski socks, and possibly insoles, so that everything fits properly. Now close the buckles from bottom to top, standing completely upright you should be standing at the front with a little space at the back. Then the walking test: With the shoes closed, you must be able to walk safely and firmly in a straight line. Full control despite the block on the leg, Wolfgang nods with satisfaction. Incidentally, he only wears a very delicate silk sock when skiing, that's how well the boot fits.

The ski sets the pace

On a tour of the neighboring ski sports museum, Wolfgang reminisces, he knows every trophy, every victory photo. He explains with a grin that Austrian skiing has always seen itself as a racing sport, even in the hobby segment. Almost like a racing car in city traffic. You can meet cozy, older ladies on race slalom skis, and at the ski lift they talk shop about ski racing. As with Nordic walking back then, he remembers, he was also a bit part of the trend. It was actually purely a health sport - but then they started organizing competitions again, he laughs. And Wolfgang has even been on a snowboard: when a certain Jake Burton once turned up at his door early in the morning and wanted to show him something "completely new", he remembers with a grin.

Back in the store, Wolfang introduces me to his range of skis. Almost everything is new, and the rental shop has long had its finger on the pulse of the times. The giant slalom ski, for example, is a real racehorse, requires a lot of power, skis at high speed with wide turns and is completely unsuitable for deep snow (as well as for most pensioners). The slalom carver with its aggressive waist is suitable for shorter turns, but requires a high level of skill and hard slopes and is therefore a bit too extreme for beginners. The sport carver is already softer and more agile, has more width underfoot and also a so-called rocker - the bending of the ski starts earlier, turns the ski better into the fall line, provides more lift in powder, but also makes it a little more unsteady. An all-mountain ski is a bit wider again and skis pretty well everywhere - quite the opposite of a beginner or returner, Wolfgang grins at me. For me, I therefore recommend an all-round ski that runs a little softer and smoother, or alternatively the all-round carver for slightly sharper turns and a pinch of sporty bite.

The stick makes the music

With the two all-round skis, 90 percent of skiers would certainly be easy enough, purely in terms of skiing ability, winks the experienced ski instructor. But some, for example, confidently demand a twin tip in the store - which was actually designed exclusively for park and freestyle. The binding is mounted completely differently, the pivot point comes from the hips, it's actually the worst thing you can do as a beginner. And then they want to ride without any poles at all! A trend that the ski schools are probably also partly to blame for: on the smallest children's course, the poles are just in the way at the beginning. The parents see this, leave their poles behind and suddenly everyone is skiing without them. And yet: from the age of six, you should definitely ski with poles for the correct skiing technique, recommends the instructor. Simply place your arm at a right angle to your body and you'll have the perfect ski pole length in your hand.

Real professionals among themselves

Of course, there are real pros here too: Michl, for example, recently bought the really fast Leki poles, the aerodynamically shaped ones with the red gloves on them. He skis maybe five times a year, winks Wolfgang. As an occasional skier in particular, the rental shop offers not only the best advice but also the advantage of always being able to try something new, and the equipment is always perfectly serviced. A well-waxed and sharpened ski is simply smoother, easier to turn and safer. It's all too easy to fall for a tempting offer "in town", buy such a great, expensive set - and never be happy with it. But skiing can be so beautiful, Wolfgang enthuses as he says goodbye. He gives me a few tips for ski resorts: the Mutterer Alm, the Schlick 2000 (especially beautiful: the Kreuzjoch panorama lift), the Glungezer area, the Patscherkofel and the Rangger Köpfl. All easily accessible from Innsbruck with free ski buses, of course. And if you're smart, simply grab the SKI plus CITY Pass - with 13 ski areas, 296 kilometers of slopes, 111 cable cars and lifts, five options for night skiing and much more.

For my part, I now know what I want and need. At least when it comes to skiing. See you soon, I wave, and meet Michael Kozubowski at the bus stop on the village square. As always, he's at work, but delighted with my visit to Igls and my neighbor Wolfgang. Of course he has to tell me about the new Leki poles. The aerodynamically shaped ones with the red gloves on them. He now wants to ski with them every free minute again. And if the good equipment alone ignites such skiing anticipation, then neighbor Wolfgang has once again done everything right.

Photos: The pictures in the article were taken by the author. The picture in the article was taken by Tom Bause on the Nordkette.

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