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Age Esteemer Silvia Glatthard

November 13th, 2010

Bonnie & Silvia

Bonnie Fatio interviewing Silvia Glatthard in Sardinia

What an amazing woman!  It seemed natural to continue this interview with Silvia Glatthard as we sat on the patio of mutual friends in Sardinia.  So we sat in the sunshine as she shared her passion for skiing which is just as strong at 80 as it was at 10.

“I was born in Interlaken, Switzerland.  We lived in the mountains so I began skiing when I was little.  I liked it a lot.  My father was one of the first skiers there.  He would take me to other mountains near by where we would have to walk up maybe two or three hours or more with the skis on the shoulder.  That made me love the nature, the snow and the skiing.  Very different from today, there was no chair lift.  We had to hike up when we wanted to ski down.  Then when I was about 10 my parents went to Murren for vacation in Springtime.  That’s where they had one of the first T-bars in the world.  So we went up and down the whole day.

I started competition when I was 17.  I started on the Swiss Championships in the Junior Class and it just happened that I won the downhill and the slalom.  Then they thought that I may be material for the National Ski Team.   Before I was 18 I participated on the Swiss National Ski Team at the Olympics in St. Moritz.  (The 1st Winter Olympics after the war in 1948)   Since I was the youngest I was a replacement and the forerunner in the Ladies Downhill. – I opened the slope for the race.    In 1950 we went to the World Championships in Aspen where I was in good form until I broke my leg just before the races began.

That was also where I danced with Gary Cooper.  Part of the team went to a bar one afternoon and there was Gary Cooper at the bar with a pretty woman.  I was so forward that I thought it would be something to dance with him, and with encouragement from my friends I went and asked him to dance.  So we had a little dance.  Someone took our picture and it was in a Swiss newspaper.  That was in 1950.

Then there were the Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway.  There was no medal for me.  I am a specialist in the downhill, staight and fast.  There the downhill looked more like a Giant Slalom because it was in the woods and there were too many turns.  I finished 15th.  In international races I finished 4th several times, but that was my best.  I was on the podium several times in Switzerland as 2nd or 3rd, but not in the Olympics.

I still like to ski.  It’s a healthy sport. You’re out in the nature.  I love the snow and that chilly, crispy air, and I like the movement.  As soon as I stand on a pair of skis and they begin to move this is a special feeling for me.  You go; you move; you glide on the snow.  It’s very different from walking.  Today I ski as often as possible, but only when I have a good view, not when it is foggy or snowy.  It’s a bit dangerous for older people.  I go when the sun is out.  I become more prudent as I get older.

My husband was a skier also.  He was a Swiss champion in 35 and later captain of the Swiss Ski Team at the Olympics for all the ski disciplines.  In Aspen in 1950 he was at the Olympics with us as the only official.  He had to do everything.  Train, organize, meetings…  I knew him several years before as the big chief of the sport.  Then in Aspen he took me as his secretary because I was good in office work and we got closer.  We married in 1951.  He was 20 years older than me and I always respected him.  I loved him and I respected him.  We worked together in the business always.  He always took me with him when he visited customers.  We were selling sporting goods wholesale and later we had a little retail sport shop.  We have 3 boys and I am now a proud grandmother of 8 grandchildren, 6 boys and 2 girls.

We represented Kneissl skis from Austria to all customers in Switzerland for 20 years until the owner decided that they should have their own firm in Switzerland.  That changed the system and it was quite hard for us.  We had such great relations with the customers.  It happened when my husband was 70 and he wasn’t ready to retire.  He also started to build a hotel with 50 rooms when he was 65.  Sherpa Tenzing, the first climber on Everest, was a friend, so we named the hotel Sherpa Hotel.  He came to see us often.  Several Sherpa also came and my husband trained them in Alpine mountaineering.

I’ve been a widow for 7 years now.  My husband was nearly 93 when he passed away and I was able to do everything for him when he got ill.  A couple years were not easy, but I managed very well so that helped me a lot to be reasonable and to be thankful for everything we had together when he passed away.  I thought I had to expect this a little bit, but you never know what happens.  But since he was so much older than me this was the way it was, but I miss him very much still.”

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