It’s perhaps 150 metres from the bakery to the ski school but Maria Gobald is hardly able to cover the distance in less than 10 minutes. First, she bumps into a mother with three small children as she’s leaving the shop… oh, look, it’s Maria, and then there is a big hello: did you get here all right? Are all three of you back on my course? Great! I’ll see you later then! Two cars sound their horns consecutively on the road, and Maria waves, although they passed far too quickly for her to see who the occupants were. And then there’s a family from Holland standing in front of her, whose children finished the course yesterday. When she arrives at the Hirschegg ski school, it’s not yet eight o’clock, but Maria has already done a lot of PR for her employer. As well as for skiing in Kleinwalsertal.
I still enjoy my job as much as I did in my first season.
“There isn’t a day without beautiful moments here,” Maria Gobald says.
She herself has a more relaxed attitude towards it all. It’s only natural that, after 30 winters, people recognise her as a ski instructor all over Hirschegg and the surrounding area. And it goes without saying that she’ll also answer questions about the right helmet or the new ski binding even when she’s not at work. It’s a privilege, she says, that she still enjoys her job as much as she did 30 years ago. “There isn’t a day that goes by without beautiful moments.” She pauses to reflect. “There aren’t many people who can say that, are there?”
The ski schools in Kleinwalsertal all have sections for children, instruction commences from three years of age. Maria enjoys teaching absolute beginners most – those who are now standing around her at the top of the mountain: wrapped up in warm clothes, with helmets on their heads and bibs depicting the ski school’s mascot. “You’ll be dashing around like groundhogs soon, only much better!” The kids seem sceptical. Maria squats down, eye level is important. “And, for lunch, we’re going to have spaghetti and tomato sauce!” Now they’re all beaming.
Almost as beautiful as flying: Having fun and being praised is part of the programme
Maria often sees kids of former students in her course
It thrills Maria to see children experiencing everything for the first time. A sport like skiing can help shape little personalities a bit, which is also a positive aspect for the woman in her mid-fifties. Sometimes she sees children in her courses where it’s obvious that they rarely get any praise. “And then, at the end of the day, they race down the slopes at full pelt and give me a massive hug when they reach the bottom, and I think to myself, ‘ Yousee, that kid did it, too.’” Maria instructs more than 1,000 children every season, many keep coming back. And, at some point, they turn up at the ski school with their own kids and look at her and say: “You’re Maria, right? You taught me 20 years ago! This is Tobias, it’s his turn now.” Such moments, says Maria, are even more beautiful than the other beautiful moments.