In Saas-Fee there is still plenty of snow around when the lowlanders are already enjoying the summer. That pleases not only energetic holidaymakers but also skiing and snowboarding champions. Quite a few of them who stand on the winners' podium with a bronze, silver or gold medal at the Winter Olympics or in World Cup season will have previously trained in Saas-Fee. An entire team is responsible for grooming the slopes to make sure that the training sessions are a success.
The opportunities that skiing and snowboarding champions find in Saas-Fee for training in the spring, summer and autumn hardly exist in any other country at those times of year. The weather, the views and the snow conditions are wonderful. The world's best, such as Swiss racing skier Beat Feuz and the Norwegian snowboarder Torstein Horgmo, train in Saas-Fee.
The terrain on the Fee Glacier is very similar to that for the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Sölden, so it is perfect for simulating the races. The large area below the Allalinhorn is also popular for training: with several slopes for slalom and giant slalom, two downhill runs up to 1.9 km long and lifts for free-skiing and snowboarding, it certainly gets these elite athletes' pulses racing.
The teams that train in Saas-Fee come from all over the world. However, certain home advantages are given to the Swiss teams: they are allowed to be first on the slopes in the morning. The Metro Alpin runs a special service to take the athletes on to the glacier, so they start at soon after 6 a.m. Usually the glacier training finishes at midday. And a few weeks later, when the World Cup season gets going at the end of November/beginning of December, many of the pros who could be seen earlier on the slopes in Saas-Fee appear among the winners on the television.
The highest slopes start at nearly 3500 metres above sea level. The piste teams and the rescue service director work for several hours every day, ensuring that the slopes are safe and perfectly prepared. It's an extremely responsible job, because the skiers race down the snow like they do in a World Cup, at 120 km/h. A downhill slope has to be completely free of bumps. And it must not play a part in any accidents – that's a matter of professional pride.
The ski runs in the Allalin area are open in spring, summer and autumn for "normal" visitors, too. Sometimes the stars and the ordinary holidaymakers encounter one another up at those great heights. The slopes are perfectly groomed, be that for World Cup skiers or amateurs. Sometimes the new snow is removed so that the slope remains hard for the professional teams.