Hois, the man for all seasons
Hois Werlberger worked for the Hahnenkamm Race as an apprentice back in 1973 and is still involved, day in, day out. He was previously a judge and course section leader, but now sees himself "as a regular shoveler". The 66-year-old from Jochberg has taken a moment to reflect on his past.
There are a number of veterans among the staff at the Hahnenkamm Races. Many have been working on the course or behind the scenes for decades. One such veteran is Hois Werlberger, who made his first appearance at the Hahnenkamm 51 years ago: "It was in autumn 1973 and the Ski Club had commissioned complete renovations of the former Start Hut. I was an apprentice carpenter at the time and carried wood from the top station of the materials cable car to the hut," he recalls. The materials cable car ended roughly where the viewing platform of the Hahnenkamm cable car is today. It was autumn, but temperatures were so frosty back then that Hois and his colleagues would hunker down in the small cellar of the Start Hut during their breaks to warm up by a fire. During his carpentry apprenticeship, the Jochberg native also worked in the finish area, which back in the 1970s had virtually nothing in common with today's finish area: "We built the finish huts and commentators' booths - all out of wood. There was no grandstand back then."
Soon afterwards, Hois Werlberger moved to Germany for professional reasons. He celebrated his comeback at the Hahnenkamm race in the early 1990s as a judge: "I joined the piste team on the Steilhang in 1988 and two years later, took over the position of section chief from Karl Schwingenschlögl. When Herbert Hauser became piste manager, Hois moved upwards, at least in geographical terms. He was responsible for the Start-Mausefalle section and managed it until 2023. "Since handing over to Stefan Obwaller, I've just been a regular shoveler," smiles Hois modestly. Even though he continues to hold the position of Herbert Hauser's deputy as piste manager.
When he looks back on the old days, the first thing that springs to mind is the arduous work involved when there was insufficient snow on the Streif: "Back then we first had to transport the snow from elsewhere. Boards were laid out on the edge of the steeper sections, filled with snow, trodden down and watered. That was a lot of work." The boards were then removed again, of course. When it comes to safety, Hois Werlberger is also relieved that nothing is the same as it used to be: "In the 1970s, there were two-metre-high wooden fences from the top to the bottom of the racecourse and bales of straw to protect the racers. That was it. There was no safety netting, for example, on the Steilhang exit."
He doesn't have a favourite contestant: "We generally don't have that much contact with the athletes. We don't want to bother them, and they also like to have their peace and quiet. We always had a lot of fun with coach Heli Krug. And Robert Trenkwalder was also a great guy. Today, things are so professional in the World Cup, there's not much time left for banter." When asked about his favourite tasks as an employee at the Hahnenenkamm Race, he is very matter of fact: "Whatever has to be done, has to be done. And that's easy because we have a great team and a super piste manager. Herbert knows what he is talking about and how to work with people."
Hois (short for Matthäus) is 66 years young and thinks "I should start thinking about stepping down." However, he thinks he will probably stay with the piste team until he turns 70: "Then I'll see what my health allows." Speaking of health: what does he wish for his Hahnenkamm Races in the future? "Nobody knows where the future of skiing will take us. But I hope we have many more great races that will keep inspiring everyone involved." He himself enjoys watching all the action from the sidelines at the Mausefalle section - Hois' favourite spot during the Downhill.