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Issue 2 | 16 February 2018 CHF 3.50
LOST IN TRANSITION? Thoughts on the naming of streets
LA GARE COMPLEX FINISHED New spaces for international schools
LADIES AT THE HELM
Laurence de Bournet, Leopoldine Serra di Cassano and Sophie Labarraque on local projects to revive a village
Waking up in a Hästens bed is an eye-opener about the value of perfect sleep. It’s built with the ultimate combination of nature’s materials – together with tireless craftsmanship. You can’t see it. But you’ll definitely feel it. 24 hours a day. www.betten-hastens.ch
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CRAZY IDEAS Crazy ideas are always crazy but only occasionally sensible or feasible or in any other way like people usually want ideas to be. Often people actually like crazy ideas but, I would argue, most readily when they are not involved in their execution; or, even better, when the ideas are mere thought experiments that aren’t meant to exist in the real world. Everything is possible, toss it around, turn it upside down, spin it, twist it; there are no limits in your mental space. Occasionally one comes across that kind of idea and it turns out that somebody out there actually means business. It is as if they didn’t know when the fun has to stop and you should be serious again, you know, the end of the game, reality kicking in, etc. Did their parents never teach them? And after a while you catch yourself thinking that it might work. The crazy idea may become a regular thought and almost seem like common sense. And isn’t that crazy, too?! Anyway, flip over to page 20 if you want to read about such a case.
CONTENTS LOCAL NEWS 20 years Pure Snowboarding
More turnouts for Turbach
Bringing the tour to Gstaad
Early spring at Éphémères by DH
Gstaad habitué at heart transplant conference
Château-d’Oex wins 2017 “FLUX – Golden transport hub” award
La Gare complex in Saanen complete
New Highlander IV
SPORTS & LEISURE Guises of the white gold
Wakeboarding on the Hornberg
LIFESTYLE Lost in transition?
The real fake – Didier Massard
In memory of Lina Frangié Wagner
Markus Iseli, Publishing Director
Cover Photo: Guy Girardet GstaadLife, Anzeiger von Saanen, Kirchstrasse 6, P.O. Box 201, 3780 Gstaad, Phone: 033 748 88 74, Fax: 033 748 88 84, www.gstaadlife.com Management Board and Publisher: Frank Müller, email@example.com Publishing Director & Editor in Chief: Markus Iseli, firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors: Alex Bertea, Anna Charles, Guy Girardet, Anne Christine Kempton, Alexis Munier, Januaria Piromallo, Beat Walpoth Layout: Epu Shaha, Aline Brawand Advertising: Eliane Behrend, email@example.com, Phone: 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Annic Romang, subscriptions@ gstaadlife.com, Phone: 033 748 88 74
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SALES | RENTALS | ADMINISTRATION THE ADRESS FOR YOUR HOME IN GSTAAD SINCE 1970. Gschwendstrasse 2 | CH-3780 Gstaad Tel. +41 33 748 45 50 | Fax. +41 33 748 45 51 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.gerax.ch
20 YEARS PURE SNOWBOARDING The local snowboard retailer Pure Snowboarding celebrates its 20 th anniversary. It’s not always been a smooth ride in the sunshine but they keep rocking.
Pure Snowboarding is a small family-run business. It opened its doors for the first time in 1997 on the Promenade of Obergstaad. David Schmid, founder of Pure Snowboarding, basically turned his passion into his profession. The business underwent various changes over the last two decades. Diversification was necessary to survive. It is now located at the Würsten roundabout and the shop also features streetwear, outdoor
apparel and a bar. They have also established ties with partners. They provide other winter sport retailers with material for rent, they serve as the base for TimetoFly paragliding school, and they run their own snowboarding school. The last twenty years were labour intensive but also a lot of fun. The shop has kept its easy-going air but became much more professional behind the scenes, a natural and necessary development according to Schmid. He adds that “the ability to react flexibly to external factors is key nowadays”. That’s the spirit with which Pure Snowboarding is heading towards the next twenty years. MARKUS ISELI / AVS
MORE TURNOUTS FOR TURBACH
Your Concept Store in Saanen requests the pleasure of your company to the opening cocktail of
In late January, the municipal administration of
Saanen held an informative meeting on plans to expand the turnout areas along the street to Turbach.
Thursday, February 15th, 2018 from 5pm to 7pm At a municipal assembly last summer, a motion was proposed to improve existing and add further turnouts along the street from Gstaad to Turbach. Subsequently a project study was carried out, the results of which were presented in January by municipal administration representative Philipp Becker.
Exhibition From February, 15th to 28th
Opening Hour, Tuesday to Saturday from 2pm to 6:30pm
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éphémères by DH www.bydh.ch
The study shows that there is indeed room for improvement. Long stretches have no turnouts at all and many of the existing ones are too small to allow two large vehicles to cross. The study group informed land owners and other interested parties, who readily provided their input. After the evaluation of further contributions, the municipal administration will elaborate a building project and put it to vote at a municipal assembly. MARKUS ISELI / AVS
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BRINGING THE TOUR TO GSTAAD Five times did the Tour de Suisse stop in the Saanenland, in 1950, 1951, 1969, 1972 and 1994. This year the tour will make a halt again in our valley. On 12 June the cyclists will cross the finish line on the airfield in Saanen. The whole convoy will bring approximately 1200 people into the region. On the following day the fifth stage will be launched from the ice rink/tennis area in Gstaad. The local organising committee, headed by Mario Cairoli, will be responsible for the local organisation and infrastructure and can set up a supporting programme in the finish area at the airfield. The tour organisers take care of the everything connected to the race itself. “It is a great opportunity to promote the Saanenland as a cycling region,” says Cairoli. The Tour de Suisse is the fourth largest cycling tour worldwide and attracts extensive media coverage. Cairoli also believes that it fits well into the region’s event calendar because it takes place outside the high season. MARKUS ISELI / AVS
EARLY SPRING AT ÉPHÉMÈRES BY DH The concept store in Saanen, owned and run by Danielle Hakim, exhibits paintings by Claire Chevolleau throughout February. It is the fourth opening reception at Éphémères, whose owner is also responsible for various events in Saanen such as Classic Cars and Music. Chevolleau is a Franco-Lebanese painter with her own gallery in Beirut, whose specialty are large-sized floral scenes. The style of her paintings bestows the fields and trees with an exuberance that is further enhanced by the size of the tableaux. It is not pointillism,the artists maintains, anticipating the viewers’ categorisation. If anything it should be called “perlism” she insists. Éphémères by DH is more than an exhibition room, though. It provides space for various events and sells object of various kinds. Hakim is always on the lookout for the special – the unique – which often turns out to be the lesser known. There are no high-street labels in her shop. From clothes and handbags to fragrances and cushions, everything finds a space if it passes her scrutiny. However, she insists, Éphémères is no luxury boutique. Everybody is welcome and the products are affordable. MARKUS ISELI
GSTAAD HABITUÉ AT HEART TRANSPLANT CONFERENCE
n 3 December 2017, the world of cardiac surgery and transplantation came together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first heart transplant, which was performed at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, by Dr Christiaan Barnard. He was a native South African who had the chance to be partly trained in the US and who visited Prof. Norman Shumway and Prof. Richard Lauer in Minneapolis and Stanford, where they pioneered experimental cardiac transplantation. Back in Cape Town, Dr Barnard performed the first human heart transplant successfully on 3 December 1967. Dr Barnard became quite famous after this and was invited
worldwide for scientific and humanitarian events. As such he had connections with Gstaad celebrities such as Peter Sellers, Sir Roger Moore and Princess Grace of Monaco and may well have visited Gstaad during the 70s and 80s. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Barnard during my career and was invited to the recent conference to give a key note on my involvement in Stanford as well as the first successful cardiac xenotransplant, ie a transplant between species. In 1984 I was on the team of the first cardiac xenotransplant from a young baboon to a new-born baby known as Baby Fae. The transplantation was successful and the baby did very well
during the first ten days but unfortunately died on day twenty due to intractable rejection. Baby Fae was also the first successful cardiac paediatric transplant, opening the field of human cardiac transplantation on children, who now show very promising long-term survival results. In Switzerland the shortage of organs is still the main limiting factor for transplantation. Currently, there are some discussions to try to introduce presumed consent, which means that everyone is considered a donor unless they actively opt out. This measure would massively improve the chances of patients on the waiting list to receive an organ. BEAT WALPOTH
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
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The train station in Château-d'Oex has been refurbished and modernised most successfully.
2017 “FLUX – GOLDEN TRANSPORT HUB” AWARD The village of Château-d’Oex has taken home a prize recognising the strides it has made in establishing itself as a tourist hub.
he “FLUX – Golden transport hub” award is one of the most important awards in Swiss public transportation. The prize is awarded to a transport hub that is not only customer friendly, but also excels from an operational and design point of view. It is awarded every year by PostBus Switzerland Ltd, the Swiss Transport and Environment Association (Verkehrsclub Schweiz) and the Swiss Association of Public Transport. The 2017 award focused on “leisure hubs with meter gauges”. There are around 100 railway hubs with meter gauges across Switzerland, one of which is Château-d’Oex. A
fifth of them have been renovated over the last few years and were assessed by the FLUX jury. Château-d’Oex (VD), Arosa (GR) and Innertkirchen (BE) made the final selection, but Château-d’Oex took home the prize. The Château-d’Oex train station was extensively renovated in 2015 and has helped to position the town as a destination in its own right between established tourist magnets Montreux and Gstaad. FLUX jurors were impressed by the careful design of the station building and the underpass, which also doubles as a work of art. Paintings of local personalities such as British actor
David Niven, who had his chalet in the village, adorn the walls, giving the new passageway, which connects the northern and southern parts of the village, local charm. The FLUX award was given to Château-d’Oex community representatives as part of the PostAuto Transport Forum Movimento in Bern last December. PostBus, the Transport Club Switzerland (VCS) and the Association of Public Transport (VöV) sponsored the awards for the eleventh time, and awarded CHF 5,000 to the winning municipality.
ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON / AVS
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
LA GARE COMPLEX IN SAANEN COMPLETE The new building project on the former site of the La Gare restaurant in Saanen is complete. Apartments, lodging for John F. Kennedy School and Le Rosey, as well as office space make up the new complex.
he dilapidating La Gare restaurant was the eyesore of Saanen for over 20 years. When the restaurant closed down, the site was left abandoned. The owners, Family Eckes, had made plans to redevelop it, but local opposition ensured it never came to anything. In the end, the site was sold to local real estate kingpins Matti and Bach. A new complex for Saanen
Construction began on the new project at the beginning of 2016, and was completed by the end of 2017. Daniel Matti of Matti Immobilien AG is very pleased with how it turned out: “It’s good that something has come of this place. The eyesore of Saanen has disappeared.” A double chalet as well as a single free-standing chalet were built on the site, which is divided in two by Märitgässli. An underground car park joins the two buildings. Construction challenges
“There were two main challenges to overcome during construction,” says Matti. Both had to do with water, namely groundwater and sewage. This project included an underground parking garage, and as such, the foundation of the buildings had to be laid two metres below the groundwater level. Matti explains that “it is always a challenge to build beneath the water table.” However, an even greater challenge was to move the existing drainage system to accommodate the underground garage. “Relocating a drainpipe with a diameter of 1.2 metres is not easy,” says Matti. Le Rosey
Accommodation for local private schools make up the larger part of the double chalet, Chalet Rocky. “The entire Chalet Rocky belongs to Le Rosey,” explains Matti. Le Rosey rents two floors of the building to John F. Kennedy School and uses the two top floors for its own
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
purposes. All the housing units are modular and their size can be altered using connecting doors to accommodate what is needed. John F. Kennedy School
“Our boarding school children live on the ground and first floors of Chalet Rocky,” explains Henri Behar, director of John F. Kennedy School. However, he specifies that the children only sleep in the chalet, and that all of John F. Kennedy School’s classes and meals take place on the main campus near the Saanen church. Apartments
The smaller part of the double chalet, Chalet La Gare, consists of four primary residence apartments that belong to local businesses. An additional five apartments for use as secondary residences as well as two office spaces were built in the free-standing Chalet Alvino. Mighty but elegant
The sheer size of the chalets inevitably adds emphasis to the area surrounding the train station. And yet, because the chalets are fairly similar to one another and thanks to careful consideration of the façade color scheme and decoration, the new additions stand elegantly on the Bahnhofplatz, a square that has now been revived. ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON / AVS
The La Gare ruin was torn down in spring 2016 and replaced with a building complex that provides space for housing for international schools, office spaces, and residential apartments.
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This is the fourth in a series of four articles where GstaadLife interviews “New Highlanders” – individuals from various professions who have come to live in the Saanenland and Pays-d’Enhaut. Coming from diverse backgrounds and bringing a wealth of experience, they add to the rich mosaic of our multicultural life. In this article we sit down with Leopoldine Serra di Cassano, Laurence de Bournet and Sophie Labarraque, three dynamic women running businesses in Château-d’Oex.
INTERVIEW WITH LEOPOLDINE SERRA DI CASSANO Leopoldine, you went to school at the JFK and Le Rosey. What perspective has that given you?
My family has had close ties to Gstaad for three generations since 1946. My grandmother sent my father and two uncles to Le Rosey and wanted me to follow in their footsteps. I lived abroad – in London and elsewhere – but, when I had children, I came back. I wished my kids to grow up in these beautiful surroundings and to be able to do simple things like walking to school on their own, drinking tap water and enjoying 300 days of sunshine a year – things we take for granted here. I get the impression that you are an unofficial ambassador for Château-d’Oex and the region. What motivates you?
I’ve lived here for the past 18 years. During this time, I have truly come to appreciate Château-d’Oex and the diversity of the people who, like me, have chosen to settle here. Change in our world is inevitable but this charming village, with so much character and history, deserves to be protected for future generations. I work in real estate and find the prices here interesting. People discover
the beautiful surroundings and the hidden life of the village, and grow to love it. Many of the people who come to live in the region are already retired but you’ve managed to attract people who are still working.
I meet prospective buyers who tell me they would like to get away from the stress and pollution of city life – either to have a mountain refuge for weekends or to work here. They can live up here and use information technology to run their businesses elsewhere. Rail and road transport is good, with easy access to airports and the big cities. I have friends who commute to Geneva and Bern or even further afield during the week and then return to the region for the weekend. You’ve been very active in fundraising for the Château-d’Oex hospital. Can you tell me a bit about these activities?
Claude Barbey, one of the founders of the Friends of the Hospital of Saanen asked me to start a similar association in Château-d’Oex in the hope of securing its survival with a joint venture hospital in two cantons. I Leopoldine Serra di Cassano is convinced that the best times of Château-d'Oex are yet to come. Guy Girardet
NEW HIGHLANDER IV
was also inspired by the legacy of my adored grandmother, who built and founded the Clinique Génolier, close to Geneva, in the late 70s. For current residents and for those seeking to buy, the hospital is a significant advantage. We have established an association with charitable status, Les Amis de l’Hôpital du Château-d’Oex, and have been fortunate to raise well over a million Swiss francs to date. As part of a development called Pole Santé, the Commune has donated ground on which a new hospital will be built with improved facilities for patients and doctors’ offices. Do you have a vision for Château-d’Oex?
I had a dream of Château-d’Oex becoming a center for artisanal activity and I think the recent interviews suggest that this is beginning to take place. We have a dynamic group of entrepreneurial women in the village (including Laurence and Sophie) and we often get together to discuss our plans and ideas. Do you think New Highlanders feel welcome in the area?
Yes, I do. In fact, I would argue that many of the locals are New Highlanders themselves since so many originally came from elsewhere. What the village has is a strong sense of community. I find that those who participate to help in local activities are warmly accepted, regardless of their backgrounds.
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
Why were you attracted to the Pays-d'Enhaut and Saanenland?
When I was young and living in Geneva we occasionally came to Saanenland on holiday. I’m attracted to this region for many reasons, but particularly the mountains, the alpine pastures and the beauty of the chalets. I’ve always wanted to live in a place that combines nature and architecture. When you were looking for a property did you plan to buy a restaurant?
No, not at all. Our original idea was to buy a chalet but when we saw Les Alpes [Café des Alpes] we fell in love with it. We like the idea of living somewhere central where we can participate in the daily life of the village – having a restaurant just below us is a bonus. The main challenge has been to find the right person to manage it as the former owner was retiring. You’ve restored the building beautifully. How did you find a new chef?
Several people were interested in Les Alpes. The hard part was finding a compromise between our vision for the restoration and the person who would take over. My friend Leopoldine often spoke to me about Massimo, who ran the Mon Sejour restaurant in Vers l’Eglise. We spent six months getting to know each other and were fortunate to develop a mutual trust. For the restoration, we tried to preserve some historical elements of the building and recover original materials. The woodwork was painted by Nathalie Rosat, who worked miracles.
a simple menu based on traditional Italian food; this clearly meets the clients’ expectations. Finally, Leopoldine, Sophie and myself are totally in love with the region so, naturally, we do advertising for the restaurant which is so central to Château-d’Oex. The feedback that I’ve received is that the people are grateful that you are investing and reviving the village.
Château-d’Oex is still very much alive and I think that the village was already in the process of enhancing its daily life. There are many dynamic “highlander” women who support Château-d’Oex and this region. These include Leopoldine Serra di Cassano, Cécilia Roger, Sophie Labarraque and Sylvie Plassnig. They work in different domains: real estate, artistic embroidery, glass blowing and painting. But they all share the same passion for their work and for the region. For my part, I am passionate about construction that combines new technologies with traditional products. My company specialises in building insulation based on a mix-
ture of chalk and hemp. We are fortunate to have several local customers that believe in us and Les Alpes is the first example of the work we are capable of. Mountain regions always have a number of challenges. Are you optimistic about the fate of this region?
I see the Saanenland and the Pays-d’Enhaut as, above all, a family-oriented region. For me this should be the main focus. The diversity of the inhabitants and the many different networks make daily exchanges very enriching. I think we all share a common love of nature, so I am confident for the future. The hiking trails offer a multitude of possibilities. It is the farmers who “garden” these beautiful alpine meadows and are extremely dynamic. We need to encourage the younger generation to continue farming. With all its wealth, I am very confident that this valley is and will continue to be an exceptional place. The interior of the Café des Alpes was refurbished with attention to its history and an eye for details.
I believe the restaurant has had a lot of clients since it opened?
It’s a mixture of a number of factors. Massimo trusted us to create a warm ambiance and it seems that clients really love it. Secondly, he created
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
Laurence de Bournet
INTERVIEW WITH LAURENCE DE BOURNET
Sophie Labarraque's passion are handcrafted objects by local artisans and artists of various trades.
Courtesy of Sophie Labarraque
INTERVIEW WITH SOPHIE LABARRAQUE
What made you move to the Pays-d’Enhaut?
I discovered this region during childhood vacations and I love its authenticity. I chose Château-d’Oex because I fell in love with a chalet here and discovered the charm of the village. It has what I call a village character, a human side that is important to me, and also a whole foreign community, a cosmopolitan side. Then there is also my attachment to the crafts. I recently discovered all the wood trades such as the tavaillonneurs and other artisans in the area. I bought this little chalet – having been seduced by its orchard – and transformed it with the help of a tavaillonneur, one of the few who is still in the region. The discovery of these unique skills deeply touched me. And I think that my activity suits Château-d’Oex. Why do you call your gallery “Ambulant Curiosities”?
In Paris, where I lived for thirty years, I worked closely with people who had exceptional skills and experience in the luxury sector and also with different craftspeople and artists. When I returned to Geneva, two years ago, I wanted to communicate
this know-how [savoir-faire] that I had acquired. With this in mind I bought a small van, an old 1970s Renault Estafette, and set it up as a travelling gallery. I participated in markets and outdoor events and I wanted to keep this traveling theme with my gallery, hence the name. This gallery, although it’s a more fixed place, is in communion with nature and my objects fit in well here. Here I will exhibit things that I could not put in the van. Can you tell us a bit about the people you work with?
I’ve always wanted to bring together craftspeople, artisans and artists with their exceptional knowledge and to combine their skills with those of other trades. I may, for instance, ask a cordelier to work with a cabinetmaker on an object like a screen or a headboard. All kinds of customised projects can be created from the objects in my window. My clients can be private individuals, architects, decorators or hoteliers. There are many professionals in the region who I would like to meet. I make custom projects for clients on demand. I also intervene for architects and coordinate follow up.
The artisans I know are all passionate about their work. They are always generous in giving me new contacts so I often meet new artisans through them – a sort of snowball effect. For the moment I am working with people in France, England and Italy and hope to enlarge this group to include artisans from Switzerland. I like to work with this notion of the person behind the creation. When I first discover an object I need to get to know the person and establish a collaboration between us that develops little by little. I accompany them. This takes time but establishing this relationship is important to me. I personally do not create anything at all. I always leave the artists free to follow their own creativity. Now that you have this gallery what are your plans?
The gallery will be open during the school holidays and then by appointment. I will continue to go out occasionally with the Estafette. I also often travel around to look for ideas and things at flea markets, in antique shops and old houses. I browse a lot, I travel, I look around, I watch. I need to have this availability. I plan to have open days on a regular basis with an exhibition in my chalet and my orchard – perhaps one Sunday a month. I am creating a showroom in the basement of my chalet and my idea is to show an artist’s work – ideally with the artist present. In the gallery, my showcase, I will have a range of objects – each piece unique, handmade – ranging from small gift items and simple things at reasonable prices to garden art and bronzes that may be worth several thousand francs. GUY GIRARDET
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MADDOX GALLERY After their highly acclaimed grand opening in December 2017, there is no doubt that Maddox Gallery have made their arrival in Gstaad one to remember. Showcasing some of the finest names in photography, contemporary and fine art, this gallery has become quite the destination to visit on the Promenade. Although housed in one of the high street’s traditional picturesque chalets, Maddox Gallery have transformed the interior of this 1960s building into a modern luxury haven for contemporary art. Set across two floors, their first international gallery has already caught the media’s attention, with them being featured in the influential publication of the Financial Times “How To Spend It” section. Maddox Gallery is fast emerging as one of the most stylish young international contemporary art destinations. With three galleries in London and swiftly becoming one of the most sought after exhibitors at many of the worlds leading art fairs, their arrival in Gstaad has already become one of the most talked about openings this season. Bringing a dynamic roster of international artworks to the village, from highly collectible photography to emerging contemporary art stars, astute collectors can browse work by some of the most respected and established international artists, including works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, as well as Banksy the rising stars on the global art scene. After opening their doors with an inaugural exhibition by the world renowned wildlife photographer David Yarrow, Maddox Gallery is currently exhibiting a group show featuring blue chip artwork alongside some of their most popular international artists such as Harland Miller, Mark Evans, Massimo Agostinelli, Michael Moebius, The Connor Brothers, Russell Young, and RETNA. Maddox Gallery have also established a partnership with the iconic Alpina Hotel, Gstaad and will be embarking on a series of collaborations and inhouse exhibitions with the hotel and the charity to.org to support some of the world’s most deserving social causes, including communities, wellbeing, nutrition, resources, wildlife and environmental preservation.
Jay Rutland, Maddox Gallery’s Creative Director comments, “It has been an exciting two years for Maddox Gallery, we’ve launched three thriving galleries in London and expanding internationally felt like the natural next step. Gstaad has always appealed to me and then the opportunity arose to take over this stunning premises on the famous Gstaad promenade. The reaction has been really positive, people are excited by the arrival of a new contemporary art gallery. I am also delighted that we’ve joined forces with the Alpina Gstaad and we will be announcing a number of exciting partnerships with them over the coming year.” Visitors to the gallery can stop by to peruse the art works in their own time, or make an appointment with one of the gallery’s art advisors, who can discuss the latest trends emanating from the global art market, whilst receiving advice on solid investments and artists to watch. For further information please visit www.maddoxgallery.ch Maddox Gallery Gstaad, Promenade 7, CH-3780 Gstaad, Switzerland @maddoxgallerygstaad +41 (0) 33 748 3662
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
The extreme weather in late January led to a precarious situation, an occasion to look inside the snowpack. Apart from a lot of snow, the space below the top layer and the solid ground contains a world of complexity that takes science, continuous study, and years of experience to disclose – at least partly. A glide snow avalanche in Haute Combe VD that began at a height of 1900 metres and slid down to 1600. This kind of avalanche is triggered by a loss of friction between the snowpack and the smooth ground) Ueli Grundisch
SPORTS & LEISURE
GUISES OF THE WHITE GOLD The big picture…
Someone who must know is Ueli Grundisch. He is chief of mountain rescue SAC (Swiss Alpine Club), natural hazard and avalanche consultant of the municipality of Saanen, and observer of the SLF (Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research). For twenty years he has been at the helm of the rescue team in the region and knows every nook in every valley. And he knows about snow. Many will have guessed that it is not as simple as measuring the snowpack to say if there is an imminent danger of avalanches in a region. But most won’t guess just how complex this science really is. To understand what happened in January, Grundisch explains with a calm concentration, one first needs to look back to the earliest snow in November, which settled on a ground that had not been frozen. This fact remains vital for every following judgment throughout the winter because the ground then keeps emitting heat and thus keeps changing the snow layers from below.
A slab avalanche: the wind-drifted snow was released in a critical slope area.
FRIENDLY COMPETITION The Alpina Cup took place for the sixth time this year. On 2 February, pupils, teachers and affiliates of
affiliates of the schools and compete in a giant slalom at the Wasserngrat and a hockey match in Gstaad.
the Gymnasium Gstaad and Le Rosey competed in two disciplines. It was a double for Le Rosey this year. The friendly spirit and the athletic competition between the Gymnasium Gstaad and Le Rosey continues. It has turned into a highlight of the winter season for pupils of both schools. The teams consist of pupils, teachers, and
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Sports throughout the day
In the giant slalom, ranks 1–14 in the men’s competition went to Le Rosey. The women of the Gymnasium were more successful than their male counterparts with ranks 1–3, and the day’s best time went to Christoph Däpp, director of Gymnasium Gstaad. The hockey teams are motley crews of seasoned and unexperienced play-
ers of all ages. This works so well because it’s the friendly competitive spirit that counts, as organisers and participants agree. In the end, Le Rosey proved to be ahead of the Gymnasium Gstaad in both disciplines this year. Gala dinner in the evening
The prize giving ceremony was held at The Alpina Gstaad. Eric Favre, director, is glad to sponsor the event and to host the gala dinner in the evening. While the sports teams are mostly separated during the com-
Second, one needs to consider the changeable weather we had throughout the winter. After a cold and snowy December came a period of intermittent rain and snow and, accordingly, variable temperatures above and below zero. This interplay of precipitation and temperatures resulted in layers of snow with varying physical conditions. And third, the storms and heavy winds added their share. For one, they create snow drifts of considerable depth. Plus, when snowflakes are tossed around in the air, they lose their hexagonal structure and won’t wedge together anymore as they do in their original shape, which creates further instability in the snow layers.
What emerges, though, is the need to keep track of the weather development from the very first snow early in the season to the most recent precipitations. “Mountain guides and tour guides start their preparations at the beginning of the season and continue their evaluation with every snowfall or change of temperature,” he explains. In fact, they keep assessing the situation with every step they take on a tour, looking for indicators, patterns, and signs so they can react if needs be. Changeability
Grundisch gives a brief assessment of the day’s condition when asked about the situation now and adds: “It keeps changing, though. The snow morphs constantly in every layer, which affects the overall situation.” It’s obvious that no outlook is possible that reaches further than a day or two. Changeability proves to be the only constant and the very key feature of the avalanche situation, a fact that requires curiosity, willingness to learn, and constant alert in Grundisch’s position. The chief of mountain rescue explains all this in great detail and with much care, always pausing to reflect and to make sure his vis-à-vis can follow the technical explanations. He radiates a calmness that he has acquired with experience, a serenity that complements the vivid gleam of his eyes.
…and the devil in the detail
petitions, this is where pupils and teachers of the respective schools find more occasions to talk. The Alpina Cup has become part of the “love story” between Gstaad and Le Rosey, as Rob Gray, headmaster of academics at Le Rosey, describes the relationship between Gstaad and the international school. There was no doubt last year and there has been no doubt this year about the future of the competition. See you in 2019! MARKUS ISELI / AVS
A lot of pressure from the public rests on his shoulders. He is expected to take quick actions when an emergency call comes in but he also has his team to look after. When he became head of rescue twenty years ago, the external pressure affected him much more than it does today. He has learnt to stay focused on the rescue conditions. The safety of his team always comes first. While he learned to cope with the danger and the pressure, one emotion still often emerges. It’s a grudge that at times verges on anger against the very people he is rescuing because every incident creates a risk for others as well, in particular for his team. But he strikes a more conciliatory tone at the end. Being a mountaineer himself, he is the first to understand why people seek the solitude, the thrill, or just nature untouched. MARKUS ISELI
Le Rosey team members receive the winner's bell of the ski competition: Eric Favre (director The Alpina Gstaad), Hadrien Pratte-Ness, Sabrina Scherz, Louis Luftman, Vittorio Burger, Patrick Zürcher ( race director Le Rosey), Christoph Däpp (director Gymnasium Gstaad), and Andrew Spencer (hockey Le Rosey). Frank Müller
Simple enough? Well, these are only three variables without any explanation about how they affect the situation in detail and how they interact. Grundisch readily relativises that the enumeration of these points is a gross simplification and won’t do justice to the complexity of processes and changes that take place on a daily basis. Snow is an ever-changing element and poses new riddles with every fact that has been established about it.
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
While everybody is still indulging in perfectly groomed pistes, some are busy with preparations for the summer. Instead of a snow park, people should soon be visiting a wakeboard park up on the Hornberg. At least this is the plan of six young residents, whose plan to install a wakeboard facility is taking shape
The water reservoir in summer (left) and a visualisation of the facility, including the recreational space, the two masts for the lift, and the wakeboarding elements in the water (below). Wake Up Gstaad
SPORTS & LEISURE
WAKEBOARDING ON THE HORNBERG
he idea may seem slightly crazy but the six young members of the Wake Up Gstaad association know what they’re doing. The fact that two years ago they received a local innovation award, the Prix de Gessenay, for this idea shows that it is not completely absurd and now they are showing that it is feasible. Their plan is to make use of the artificial lake, which serves as a water reservoir for the snow production in winter, in summer as well. Marco Reimle, member of the association, explains that they want to “create a new offer for tourists and residents”. The technology
A low-noise electric lift with two masts will make for the action. It’s a system that can be run by a single person. The possible length of the ride will be about 120 metres, speed can be adjusted to the rider’s level, and elements like ramps and rails will cater for the entertainment of the more experienced wakeboarders.
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A bar, containers for storage and sanitary facilities will also be required to complement the site. The complete setup, including the lift, will be mobile. This means all the elements cam be removed in autumn, so no traces of the summer fun will be left in winter. Crowdfunding is ongoing
The costs of the project are estimated at CHF 100’000.–, a good part of which could be secured via sponsors and a contribution from the municipality of Saanen. The remaining CHF 30’000.– are being raised with a crowdfunding throughout February. People who participate will be eligible for a special offer, such as a special event day at the wakeboard facility or a half-price season pass. First waves in summer 2018
Ideally, the wakeboard facility should open in June 2018. As soon as the finances will have been secured, the project will be implemented. If everything goes according to plan, the lift and rental gear will be available on weekends by mid-June. From July to the beginning of September the facility is planned to be open daily. MARKUS ISELI / AVS
LOST IN TRANSITION? Knowing how to get around the Saanenland used to be an inside game. Then it all changed.
It used to be that one would roll out of a Gstaad bar or nightclub at an unconscionable hour, hail a taxi on the Hauptstrasse (not the Promenade!), and give the cabdriver the name of your chalet. The driver would repeat the name, pause a beat, then turn on the ignition, punch the meter, and away you’d go. That was it.
In the Saanenland, for the most part, the old system endured. All buildings had insurance numbers, of course, but many had no street address. Chalets were known by their names, and directions to find them often included landmarks or general areas, such as ‘this side of Grund’ or ‘behind Saanen Bahnhof’. If one was completely in the dark about where to find a certain chalet, they could always ask a cabdriver, or the concierge of the Palace, a trusted source. In 2006, it all changed.
Chalet Diaita in Schönried? No problem. Hell, I couldn’t even tell you how to get there, and that’s where I briefly resided in the mid-80s. Like the famed hackney carriage drivers of London, who take years to acquire the ‘knowledge’ of that metropolis’ twisty thoroughfares, taxi drivers in the Saanenland had a legendary reputation for being able to find every named chalet in the region. They could primarily because they had to – most of the smaller streets and byways in the valley didn’t have names. In Switzerland, there is an historical taxonomy of place addressing: settlement, dwelling, street, and number. Settlements were the original address location, first named by peoples such as the Helvetii and the Raetians, and later by the Romans, Alemanni, and Franks. In the Medieval period, building and house names appeared, giving inhabitants and visitors reference points for where things could be found, e.g. ‘behind the tavern’, ‘next to the church’, etc. Around the beginning of the 16th century, streets in cities were created and were named after craftsmen or population groups, and by 1812, Zurich had introduced insurance numbers for dwellings, which foreshadowed street addressing.
That year, the Swiss Federal Directorate of Land Surveying decreed that too many roads in Swiss villages lacked names, and it was causing problems, especially for rescue and delivery services. Recommendations were issued, committees formed, and by 2008, the commune of Saanen began naming its unnamed motorways after fields or districts. They finished around 2010, after which each building had an individual street address. Much was gained. The ability to easily find addresses with a navigation device or a smartphone was a balm to seasonal taxi drivers, moving companies, and to anyone who couldn’t afford to wait for an ambulance to puzzle their way down unlabeled roadways. But was anything lost? Privacy was one casualty. No longer would crazed fans have to meander hysterically searching for Johnny Hallyday’s house, or Julie Andrew’s chalet. A quick search on a smartphone will give them their fix. A sense of belonging may have been lost as well. Children who used to be known as the ‘Sulz boys’ or the ‘Vorgab girls’ now live at 39 and 82 X-strasse respectively, with all the topographical ambiguity that that implies. Since locals in the Saanenland share about eighty last names in common, such geographical haziness can lead to real confusion about exactly whom one is gossiping. Generations from now, will hikers still wax fondly about their stroll on the ‘Bissen’ or ‘Gruben’? I hope so. The lyrical and evocative place names of this wondrous valley should always be remembered. ALEX BERTEA
The artist (left) and two of his artificial landscapes: The Stream, 2010 (below) and Aurora Borealis, 2013 (opposite page).
THE REAL FAKE
Artist Didier Massard is no typical long-time Gstaad guest. While you may find him high up in the Alps during his regular breaks to the region, he’s not there for the fresh air and walking alone – his mind is turning and his imagination is in full gear. Partly inspired by Wispile, Massard’s magnum opus, Noah’s Ark, will be featured in February in an exhibition of his most spectacular works involving the Saanenland.
Massard will let you in on a little secret immediately – he’s a self-described “fake”. Those immense waterfalls and detailed forests of leafy trees? Fake. Just try finding them here in the mountains. Though at first glance his art appears to be photographs of exceptional locations, perhaps with digital adjustments in programmes like Photoshop, this surprisingly isn’t the case. Instead, Massard envisions a world of his own, constructing everything from scratch. What the audience sees in his photographs is entirely handmade miniatures using paper and fabrics, amongst many other different materials. Rocks are made of styrofoam; trees may be fashioned out of cotton or cardboard. Lighting is very important as well – which Massard describes as a miniature set, lit very carefully and then captured in a traditional photograph. Absolutely no digital is used in the process, using only personal techniques to generate the right mood for the photograph, including taking several exposures on the same film. Diorama pioneer
Massard began his career at the French Cinemathèque and evolved into traditional photography. At first Massard did mostly studio shooting, then
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worked for various magazines and companies in France. Always interested in landscapes, he started shooting them as a hobby. According to Massard they take a special – very mental and humble – approach. “You have to accept that sometimes you get what you’re looking for, and sometimes you do not, with nature,” says Massard, who started setting up “nature” shoots of what was in his imagination.
When Massard began his innovative works decades ago, he believes people in France didn’t really understand the medium. He was unable to be labelled a photographer, designer or creator, leading to confusion amongst the public. A friend in NY introduced Massard’s work to galleries and collectors, in the avant-garde atmosphere popular at the time. In 1996, well-known gallerist Julie Saul made the first solo show of his work, and his career exploded. Though expecting disaster, the New York Times Roberta Smith – known as one of the harshest critics – said beautiful things about his work. This came as a huge surprise to him. Quentin Bajac, the current director of the photography department of the New York MOMA, who was at the time the director of the same department of the Musée d’Orsay, was one of Massard’s first supporters in France and wrote on his work, helping to propel his career to further heights. “Except for Cartier Bresson and very classical black and white photography, the art form was not so popular in France,” Massard bemoans. “The US was really the pioneer of the art.” Massard then had the rare opportunity to not just work for others, making their visions into reality, but to create his own. He kept important clients like Hermès but focused his career on his art rather than on commercial photography. Now, as a recognised artist, his work is popular not only throughout the US and France but in many other countries around the world. First local show
Carolyn Freymond will present 15 of Massard’s artworks at Chalet Farb in Saanen in a retrospective entitled Paysages Imaginaires, comprised of both his early and most recent works. The idea behind the exhibition is to show Massard’s works that have a
direct relationship with the Saanenland. While Massard is a Parisian, born and bred, he has long ties to the Saanenland. He has been coming here for over 45 years.
has created bares a stunning resemblance to Wispile. All the animals are reproductions found in natural history books and magazines, and all are made of paper.
While the process of creation takes several months for one single image, Noah’s Ark is Massard’s longest project yet – it took him a full six months to achieve. As Massard points out, traditional Ark iconography shows the animals boarding the ship at a dramatic moment, often from behind. The other frequent option is to show the animals packed aboard at sea, with just their heads visible. But Massard, yet again, defies tradition.
“I was interested in the moment when all the animals were finally out and savouring their newfound freedom,” explains Massard. “Last summer, incredible storms tore through Gstaad creating flash flooding, so this provided some of the inspiration.” Supposedly, at the end of the Ark’s historic journey, it landed on Mount Ararat, but in Massard’s work, it’s the Saanenland. The mountain he
While Massard works in a traditional manner, this is getting more and more difficult as photography changes. Kodak, for example, stopped production of his favourite film, and he has to adapt to stay faithful to his art without the aid of modern technology. “The most important thing is enjoying what I do and having a little fun doing it,” insists Massard. “Otherwise I couldn’t spend so many months creating each individual piece.” The Freymond Paysages Imaginaires exhibition runs from 18 February to 3 March. ALEXIS MUNIER
www.didiermassard.net www.saulgallery.com www.kopeikingallery.com
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
IN MEMORY OF LINA FRANGIÉ WAGNER
he was beautiful, she was young, she was gifted, she was beloved. The Goddesses gave her everything. But they got jealous and took it back. All. Lina Frangié Wagner and Thomas Ischer, her faithful guide and friend, are continuing their hike in the white light of paradise. The angels are singing for them, God has welcomed them. Lina was Lebanese by DNA and international by vocation. Gstaad was her shelter. When Lina was eight years old and her sister Libana ten, they were uprooted to escape the dangers of civil war. For the two sisters and their brother Tony, Switzerland became their second home.
After a BA in Philosophy, Lina graduated in management and worked in banking. However, through her Swiss-Lebanese culture and travels, art became her greatest passion. Her first exhibition was in 2002. She was also involved in charity work with Libana, like the Theodora Foundation and Action Innocence, where her unique collages and panneaux décoratifs were auctioned. As a member of The Order of Malta, she was involved in their charitable work and assisted in the pilgrimage to Lourdes, ministering to the sick and disabled. On the day of the requiem the catholic church of Gstaad was packed. Some people outside the church could not even get in. The entire community came to show their deepest condolences, from Marcel Bach to Gianni Biggi and Mario, the chansonnier of the Olden. Members of the rescue team also paid their last respects to Lina. Family members – her nephew, her husband, and her brother – held beautiful speeches.
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Fate can change everybody’s life in the blink of an eye. Everybody who does a little off-piste knows about the risk. Everybody knows and accepts it. It’s a kind of addiction, an addiction to the beauty of nature and the silence within the soul. I met Lina at the Coop a few days before the accident. She had just arrived and was doing her grocery shopping. She said: “Let’s do some powder together. Call me…”. I did not. Was I lucky? No, lucky is the person who does what she loves deeply. Lina and Thomas did this. With great passion. There are no words for the loss of the loved ones. The Persian poet Hafiz tried: “When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.” JANUARIA PIROMALLO
EXPAT ADVENTURES When I tell people I live in Gstaad they assume I am an avid skier, but unfortunately this is far from the truth.
have always ascribed my lack of skiing prowess to the fact that I came relatively late to the sport. After many hours’ instruction I learned to ski competently, though never gracefully, down the easier runs, but it was never really my ‘thing’. A Kaffee Fertig or two after lunch tended to improve the experience, but I always preferred the scenery to the sport.
ble, but somehow I managed to regain my balance and a shred of dignity before it was too late. I sighed with relief and slowed to a controlled stop. “Good job, Mum, good job!” I heard my son shout. I turned to look at him. He was waving his ski poles in the air, mouth split open in a wide grin. “Good job, Mum! You holded it together.” “Held,” I muttered under my breath, “held it together.” He might outclass me on the slopes, but at least he didn’t know everything.
Good job, Mum!
I read somewhere that children quickly outgrow their parents’ skiing ability. When our two older boys were at school in Saanen they skied every day during the winter term. They progressed quickly and by the end of their first season, at the ripe old ages of seven and five, easily outpaced me on the slopes.
“Right, Mum,” he continued, “let’s go. Follow in my tracks,” and moved off at an exaggeratedly slow pace, solicitously checking I was still upright every few minutes.
This suited me down to the ground. My husband, a fine and adventurous skier, now had a couple of decent companions and I warmed to my role of ‘ski support’ (finding tables for lunch, ordering mid-afternoon Ovomaltines and driving the tired skiers home at the end of the day).
No amount of reasoned argument on our part would sway him. In fact, the more we protested the more he dug in. It was a losing battle. We decided he’d learn the error of his ways the first time he took the chair lift between Eggli and Chalberhöni and let the matter rest.
Every now and then I agreed to do the odd run. I clearly remember being on the Eggli one afternoon with my middle son. He was six at the time and the most enthusiastic of skiers. He whizzed down the slope, zigzagging in and out of the trees that lined the piste, while I studiously skied, turned, skied, turned, on the main run. After what seemed an age we reached the middle section of the mountain. I hit a patch of ice, wobbled and panicked. A tumble seemed inevita-
Teenagers are a curious blend of Know-It-All with little life experience. When our eldest was 16 he decided he would no longer wear a ski suit on the slopes. It didn’t look cool and he preferred his denim jacket and jeans.
We didn’t have to wait long. A couple of days later he returned home dejected. He had lost his wallet. He’d put it in the pocket of his denim jacket after buying hot chocolates in the Berghaus Eggli at the end of the day, but now he couldn’t find it. I bit back the “I told you so” that was dancing on the end of my tongue and we agreed a plan of action. He got up early the following morning and took the first cable car up the Eggli. Accompanied by his two brothers (six eyes are better than two) they scanned the slope and were elated to spy the wallet two-thirds of the way down. Their joy knew no bounds. Curiously we heard no further argument about the merits of ski suits that season. And the denim jacket stayed in the wardrobe until spring. ANNA CHARLES
GstaadLife 2 I 2018
GSTAADLIFE IS AVAILABLE IN THESE HOTELS Gstaad Palace 033 748 50 00, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hotel de Rougemont
Member of Design HotelsTM
CLUBS Rotary Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings every Monday 12 noon Gstaad Palace (033 748 50 00), President: Rot. Pascal R. J. Rey (079 776 66 02) Secretary: Rot. Markus Iseli (033 748 92 08)
Lions Club Gstaad-Saanenland Meetings each first and third week of the month on Thursdays, either at 12 noon for lunch or at 7 pm for dinner. Meetings in Ermitage, Wellness & Spa Hotel, Schönried, 033 748 60 60. For details and programme contact Arthur Reuteler, president, 033 744 51 33, email@example.com, gstaad-saanenland.lionsclub.ch.
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GstaadLife 2 I 2018
Meetings every third Tuesday of the month, usually for lunch but for dinner in the last month of each quarter. Venue: Hotel Spitzhorn, 3792 Saanen, 033 748 41 41 President: Robert Stutz, robertstutz@ bluewin.ch Programme: Stephan Bettler, stephan. email@example.com www.ambassadorclub.org
CHURCH SERVICES St Peter's Anglican Church English-Speaking, Château-d’Oex Service every Sunday, 5.30 pm
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