Aron Fahrni: It all started with a chance encounter
A winter's day in Grasgehren, Germany. There are thick clouds enveloping the slopes at the ski resort, where at 9:30 a snowboard cross race – a cross between a downhill race and an obstacle course – for para snowboarders is supposed to be taking place. But the weather has thwarted the professionals’ plans. 24-year-old Aron Fahrni from Oberthal, in the canton of Bern, was one of those ready for the off. He’s only been competing as a professional for two years. His career began with a chance encounter, as he and his coach Silvan Hofer recount in their interview the next day.
Der Beginn seiner Karriere: eine Zufallsbegegnung, wie er und sein Trainer Silvan Hofer beim Interview am nächsten Tag erzählen.
«I watched Aron snowboarding in Lenz and noticed that he has a handicap,» recalls the coach, who is responsible for the next generation of para snowboarders. He was so impressed by Aron’s skills that he invited him to a trial session. But it was a long time before Silvan received a call back. It was a whole year after this encounter that Aron finally contacted him and said: «Now I’m ready.»
The para snowboarding team, which consists of six athletes, a physiotherapist, a service technician, Silvan and his assistant coaches, has quickly become a second family for Aron: «I feel like we can support each other extremely well in different aspects of life, but we also push each other to new extremes of performance.» And it will take a great performance for Aron’s big dream to come true. He wants to show people that, even with a disability, you can still compete, act as an inspiration and help change mindsets.
Aron himself has managed to change his mindset in impressive style. When he was six years old, he had an accident on a ski lift that destroyed the nerves in his left arm. Although this meant he could no longer use his arm, at some point he realized that he could still do anything he wanted – just in his own way. This realization has made him incredibly strong.
Jonas Hasler: Combining parenting and coaching
There’s an old Circus Knie tent hidden away behind some pine trees not far from the top freestyle resort of Laax. But it no longer has a circus ring inside – instead, it’s home to the trampolines and halfpipes of the Freestyle Academy. This is where you’ll often find 16-year-old freestyle snowboarder Jonas Hasler and his sister Leonie, as well as their parents Sabine and Patrik, who used to compete professionally in the Snowboard World Cup and are now passing on their knowledge to their children and other aspiring freestyle snowboarders.
In our interview for «Stories of Rising Teams» in this tent, Sabine tells us how Jonas’s career began: «We noticed pretty early on that Jonas has very good balance, and that he could put this balance to good use – that’s when we realized that he’s really serious about snowboarding.» Just how serious is demonstrated by his answer to the question of what his big dream is: to do well at the Youth Olympic Games in South Korea next year and at the 2025 World Championships, which will be a home competition for him as it’s taking place in St. Moritz. The fact that his parents are always by his side doesn’t really bother the teenager. On the contrary – he can always talk about anything he wants with them and his sister, who is two years older. «Blind faith» is the key to their success, adds Sabine.
The snow park in Laax is more or less a second home for the family from Thurgau, and you can sense this as soon as you get to the top of Crap Sogn Gion. The staff who maintain the jumps and drive the snow groomers are delighted to see the self-titled «perfect snowboarding family». As well as sharing tips and tricks, Sabine is especially keen to pass on to Jonas her passion for riding the snow and the sensations of the halfpipe at dusk as the sun is setting.