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The Herminator: An excellent role model for school-age skiers

There are so many things that young people gain when they go on a school ski trip with their classmates. As well learning new skills, experiencing this fantastic sport, and getting in the fresh mountain air for some serious exercise; children develop teamwork, confidence and good old-fashioned grit and determination. So many parents comment on how their children seem so much more mature when they return.

One of our most popular destinations for school ski trips in Austria, is the pretty Austrian village resort of Altenmarkt. With its high (856m) altitude providing excellent snowfall (skiing season from December to April) and offering a wide choice of pistes for all levels of skiers (great for first time skiers as well as those with more experience), it is a perfect destination for a school ski trip. But the resort is also the birthplace of one of the true legends of skiing: Hermann “The Herminator” Meier.

Born in Altenmarkt in 1972, Meier’s two Olympic gold medals (Nagano 1998), three World Championship titles (1999 and 2005) and four world cup titles (alpine skiing 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004) give him an impressive track record for anyone to aspire to. But it is perhaps Hermann Meier’s characteristic determination to succeed that makes him such an excellent role-model for young people, whatever their aspirations in life.

Being born in the beautiful Austrian Ski Amadé region, and with his parents managing their own ski school, it was inevitable that Hermann would be immersed in skiing from a very young age. But his path to sporting glory was not a straightforward one. Despite showing real aptitude, a growth disorder during his teens resulted in Meier’s ski academy telling the devastated young man that his slight build meant he would never realise his dream of being a champion.

Undeterred, the young Meier pressed on, more determined than ever to succeed. Gradually reaching a world-class standard in the sport, Hermann Meier eventually gained international fame at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Sports fans around the world held their breath when Meier crashed at 70mph during the Olympic downhill event. This quite spectacular crash saw Meier tumbling repeatedly at great speed and landing on his head. Anyone watching would have assumed such a crash would result in very serious injury, paralysis, or worse. But miraculously, Meier walked away relatively unharmed. Indeed, he would return to the slopes a few days later to win gold medals in both the giant slalom and Super G events.

His apparent indestructability and “never give up” attitude gave Meier his now famous nickname “The Herminator”. International fame soon followed, putting him on the cover of Sports Illustrated and an appearance alongside fellow Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, “The Terminator”, on Jay Leno’s Tonight show.

While we certainly can’t all be Olympic champions, a school ski trip to Altenmarkt can certainly help children develop some of that Herminator “can do” attitude.

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