Ramon Zenhäusern and Saas-Fee: An unbeatable combination in skiing

Ramon Zenhäusern is a Swiss ski racer who specialises in slalom. For years, he has been one of the most successful slalom racers in the world, and has triumphed in numerous international competitions.

Ramon was born on 4 May 1992 in the canton of Valais. He discovered his passion for skiing at a young age. Ramon started his alpine skiing career with FIS races in November 2007. He specialised in the technical disciplines early on. In January 2011, he took part in the European Cup for the first time, and won his first FIS race in December 2011. In March 2012, he took part in the Junior World Championships and scored his first European Cup points in the same month. Although he narrowly missed out on the Swiss championship title in the slalom, he qualified for the 2013 World Championships in Schladming and won the silver medal in the slalom at the 2013 Junior World Championships. He also took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics, where he finished in 19th place in the slalom.

A role model for tomorrow’s generation of skiers

One big milestone in Ramon’s career was his victory at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. There he won the gold medal in the team competition, where he formed an unbeatable duo together with Wendy Holdener.  In addition to the gold medal, Ramon also won the silver medal in the slalom at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Before that, he had already achieved several podium finishes in the World Cup, including victories in Stockholm and Kranjska Gora. At the 2019 World Championships in Are, he won the gold medal in the mixed team event together with Wendy Holdener. In the 2022/2023 season, Zenhäusern put in a strong performance and finished third in the slalom World Cup standings.

His impressive career and numerous successes make him one of the most successful slalom skiers of the present day, and a role model for young ski racers.

Ramon is considered an extremely talented and focused athlete who meticulously plans his training and works hard to achieve his goals. In summer training in Saas-Fee, Ramon prepares intensively for the coming ski season.  The glacier conditions allow athletes to train on snow even in the warmer months. Summer training is of great importance for him to prepare for the ski season and to further improve his skills. Before he leaves for the summer training in Saas-Fee, we asked Ramon a few questions:

How are you preparing for the coming ski season, and how has your training changed compared to last year?

For the coming ski season, I am trying to prepare myself optimally in all areas. Since last season went pretty well, I have not made any major changes to my training.

What exercises do you do in summer training to improve your technique?

During summer training, I always try to do exercises that improve my balance so that I can stand even more centrally and precisely on the skis and ski around the gates.

How important is Saas-Fee as a training location for you, and how often do you train in Saas-Fee in the summer?

Saas-Fee as a training location was (and is) one of the most important things for my career, because in Saas-Fee, I find everything I need to become a successful ski racer. How often I train always depends on swissski’s planning, but actually, I try to use every free minute in Saas-Fee when the weather and conditions are right.

What does a typical training day in summer in Saas-Fee look like for you?

A typical training day in Saas-Fee usually starts relatively early in the morning, as the snow gets soft and wet early in the summer. That’s why we usually take the early train, which sometimes leaves as early as 5.00 am. To carve out the first lines in the snow at sunrise is unique every time. After that, training will continue until around noon. Afterwards, it is usually enough for a short midday nap before it continues with fitness training, physio and video analysis, and you go to bed relatively early to be fit again in the morning.

What are your goals for the coming ski season, and how do you motivate yourself to train hard in the summer?

My goals for the coming ski season are to stay healthy and have fun. As far as results are concerned, I don’t want to go too far out on a limb, because slalom can be very unpredictable. I motivate myself by reminding myself what a privileged life I have.

How do you deal with setbacks in training?

Setbacks are usually just as much a part of the process as successes. I have also noticed that I learn more for the future from setbacks than from successes.

What factors make Saas-Fee a unique training location for skiing?

The guarantee of snow, the varied terrain, the relatively fast accessibility and a top infrastructure with various sports facilities make Saas-Fee a unique training location for skiers.

How do you plan your training weeks in Saas-Fee to achieve optimal performance?

I usually plan my training weeks in Saas-Fee in such a way that I only go to the glacier when the weather is good and ski for a maximum of 2-3 days at a time, as the training at 3,500 m above sea level is very strenuous for the body and I can benefit from it better when recovered.

What are the biggest advantages of Saas-Fee as a training location?

Saas-Fee as a training location is unique because you can live in a beautiful village and take the train directly to the glacier from there. In addition, Saas-Fee also offers ideal infrastructure for us athletes away from the training pistes with a football pitch, climbing park, beach volleyball, swimming pool, wellness facilities, skate park, hiking trails and bike trails.

How important is it for you to train with other ski pros in Saas-Fee and learn from them?

The exchange with other athletes in Saas-Fee is always nice. You often train together and can compare yourself with your colleagues.

What are your favourite activities besides training in Saas-Fee?

My favourite activities in Saas-Fee are the Adventure Forest Rope Park, the Gorge Alpine, feeding marmots or going out sometimes 😉

How did your training in Saas-Fee contribute to becoming a world-class skier?

Training in Saas-Fee has contributed a lot to my becoming a world-class skier, as I have been skiing in Saas-Fee since my earliest years of childhood.

What advice would you give to young skiers to help them realise their dream?

Don’t fixate on skiing too early, so as never to lose the fun to be had in it! Do other sports on the side.