Matthias Simmen

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"I can make everything subordinate to my goal"

Matthias Simmen, 46, from Realp was the first Swiss biathlete to win a world championship medal and has represented his country at the Olympics three times. He retired from top-tier sport in 2011.

A world-class athlete from the Urserntal valley – how did that come about?

"I always enjoyed the outdoors. But it was only after I'd completed my carpentry apprenticeship that I was able to focus on becoming a world-class athlete. Before I became a biathlete, I was a member of the Swiss cross-country skiing team. Then I qualified as a border guard for Swiss customs and excise. That was the additional criterion you had to meet, as well as being good at your sport, in order to be accepted into the national sports development programme."

 

Who or what gives you your motivation?

"I entered the realm of top-tier sport at the age of 20, which is relatively late. But thanks to my talent and my determination to succeed, I managed to win a medal at the world championships. Achieving my goals is what motivates me."

 

What do you do in your spare time?

"I love skiing of all kinds – downhill, touring and cross-country – particularly here in the Urserntal valley. I actually live in Hergiswil (Nidwalden), but I remain very involved with Realp, especially as I get older."

What do you think Andermatt should be like in the future?

"A lively village where locals and tourists can happily co-exist. Not an artificial new resort that goes up overnight, which is what I've seen happen in other parts of the world."

 

What and where are your best Andermatt moments?

"Skiing, on the trails, at the peak of the Gemsstock or on the Urschner Höhenweg, to name just a few."

What do you like to show visitors to Andermatt?

"In winter, the skiing area and the cross-country trails, in summer the Alpine lakes. My friends from abroad are particularly interested in the Andermatt Swiss Alps tourist resort. They are often amazed at how quickly it's been built."

Any insider tips?

"Skiing down the Stotzigen Firsten when it's covered in half a metre of powder and you're the first one down."

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Today Matthias and his wife live in Hergiswil (Nidwalden). He still works for Swiss customs and excise in Bern and is a biathlon commentator for Swiss television.