cross-country trails setup

Pulling out all the stops

for the perfect trail

Probably very few cross-country skiers and winter hikers know how immaculately groomed trails are created and how much effort goes into them. Three employees from the tourist board at St. Anton am Arlberg are responsible for their daily grooming. If necessary, until late at night.

Preparation of the cross-country ski trails

Extreme flexibility, fully focussed for several hours at a time, in sometimes inhospitable conditions, even at night, and being available pretty much 24/7. Is an accurate portrayal of the job description for the cross-country trail team. Sebastian Tschiderer is one of those closely acquainted with the challenging circumstances. Together with Allan Jensen and Alfons Walser, he grooms the 17 signposted winter hiking trails comprising of some 80 km, as well as the region’s 40 km network of cross-country ski trails in winter. Sometimes even twice a day.

The weather gives the order

The weather gives the orders Sun, clouds, rain, snow or temperatures dictate how much work the three cross-country ski trail experts must contend with. ”These factors don’t just affect trail grooming, butlife as a whole in winter. Including family life“, explains Tschiderer. ”The weather sets the pace. We work when it is necessary. If it snows in the morning, we have to work again in the evening“, says the father of two. The team’s designated area includes all cross-country ski trails in the Stanzertal and Verwall valleys and St. Christoph, as well as the winter hiking trails. A driver requires up to nine hours to create the perfect trail through Stanzertal alone and around three hours for Verwall. ”That is mentally very tiring“, says Tschiderer. The 40-year-old adds: ”We always have to stay fully focussed. There are numerous things to consider, especially when there is a dump of new snow. For example, dangerous areas, or the potential risk of sinking in snow drifts.“ 

Annoying defects, pleasing feedback

The three employees have a large snow groomer and three smaller cross-country ski machines at their disposal. What is most annoying, according to Tschiderer, is when a vehicle breaks down: ”If a technical problem occurs when we are out and about, I immediately know that my working day will be longer. After all, we don’t drive on a regular road, but usually somewhere off the beaten track that no tow truck can access. You have no choice but to try and repair it on the spot.“ Nevertheless, the Pettneu man loves his job, which he has been doing for two winters now: ”There is nothing nicer than seeing an immaculately groomed trail in your rear view mirror early in the morning in glorious winter weather.“ The biggest thanks for all their efforts is the positive feedback from the cross-country skiers. ”That brings us great pleasure and shows that our challenging and time-consuming work is appreciated.“ 

Popular cross-country ski trails (classic and skating):

  • Verwall: 10 km
  • St. Christoph: 2,5 km
  • Stanzertal: 22 km
Popular winter hiking trails:

  • Verwalltal
  • Stanzertaler loop trail
  • Gasthof Almfrieden, Pettneu

8 months of hard work

In addition to grooming, the trail team are responsible for a whole host of other tasks: for example, removing broken branches after heavy snowfall, clearing snow from trees and roofs thus preventing snowslides, collecting rubbish along the trails and removing dog excrement. Preparations begin as early as autumn and include clearing paths, building bridges over streams, putting up signposts and safety nets. Everything has to be dismantled again in spring. The three colleagues then walk along all the routes. ”To ensure that everything is as it should be“, says Tschiderer, who like his colleague Walser, is a member of the tourist board’s field staff.