Week after week ski patroller Jürg Klopfenstein, known locally in German as Pisten-Jürg, tells it like it is via Skype as he reports on the state of the pistes at Lenk ski area. These popular filmed reports can be viewed on the lenk-simmental.ch website.
«Right now you’ve got just the slightest breeze, the sky’s a steely blue, and the snow’s still a bit on the crunchy side…», says Jürg Klopfenstein, talking to his mobile phone camera from the seat of his snowcat. Stretching out in the background is the white winter landscape of the am Metsch area, with the ‘steely blue’ sky arching above it. But the weather’s not always this picture-postcard perfect. In other clips our ski slope supremo is seen standing in a grey landscape or in front of a snow-covered forest: «Very little of it is ever staged. When it’s time for the piece, I call up my colleague via Skype and start reporting, right there from wherever I happen to be working at the time.»
Right now you’ve got just the slightest breeze, the sky’s a steely blue, and the snow’s still a bit on the crunchy side…
As the 39-year-old explains, he’s always been fascinated by snow, having grown up right next to a ski lift. After serving an apprenticeship as a farming machinery mechanic he took up employment with the Lenk mountain railways and cableways 15 years ago, initially just over the winter season as a snowcat driver, but then from 2004 as a permanent member of the piste team.
In summer he prepares the slopes for the forthcoming season. He services the vehicles, treks through the lush green skiing area locating the best spots for the artificial snow machines, checks the tapping points, and looks forward to late October when temperatures drop to -2.5 °C. Why? Because once this minus temperature is reached, the next winter season can begin. It’s when snow cannons can be used for the first time on the slopes in the Canton of Bern.
In winter, Jürg and his 18-man team are there to make sure piste conditions throughout the ski area are perfect. It means getting up at the crack of dawn and often working late into the evening – but that’s never been a problem; after all, as a native of Lenk, he has found his dream job: «I love the mountains, nature, and being outdoors – what more could you ask for?»
And, since last winter, Jürg Klopfenstein is also an internet star. «Our marketing people came up with the idea, and I wasn’t too keen at first; I was worried about getting negative reactions.» Fortunately, there were none, and ski patroller Jürg now really enjoys his new-found role. That’s why, this winter again, he’ll be reporting direct from the slopes, every Thursday. Straight up, with no fancy talk, and in his typical Lenk dialect.