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Ski season The piste basher's long night

Werner Freitag and his team are out every night during the ski season in Elm, preparing the pistes, sledging tracks and winter paths for winter sports fans.

There is no letup  – only if there is no snow does the crew at the small ski resortexternal link get a day off. They work through the night, smoothing the slopes and clearing the snow along the 44 kilometres of pistes for use the next day.

Elm ski region ‘We’re lucky – there’s lots of snow in Elm’

Bruno Landolt has been in charge of the Elm mountain lift company for 16 years.

The five men start at three in the morning – but only if snowfall has been forecast. Otherwise they can already go out at 6pm, after the slopes have closed. “The pistes are better if they are untouched for five to six hours,” says the highly experienced Freitag. “The snow can settle and remains firmer.”

Freitag loves loves the peace and quiet, ‘being alone outdoors’. Great skill and concentration are needed to drive the huge vehicles up and down the steep slopes. He has to know the ski area by heart in cases when visibility is poor and he can't see the ski lift towers.

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