It is 1963. John F. Kennedy ended his memorable speech in Berlin with the words "Ich bin ein Berliner". Winnetou and James Bond have their first appearance on the big screen. The Beatles and Rolling Stones start their global career. And in the Engadine, the Corvatsch opens its doors.
After only two years of construction, the first section of the Corvatsch cable car started its operation on 23 March 1963 and the second section on 8 December of the same year. The sports mountain is finally opened up after six failed attempts since 1902 making it the highest top station in the eastern Alps that can easily be reached by public transportation.
Long lines, great view
On opening day, the waiting line to reach the summit of Corvatsch was 3 hours. What seems unimaginable today, ski enthusiasts back in those days didn't mind. While place cards were handed out, people standing in line were relaxed and chatting with each other. Arriving at the top, the breathtaking panoramic view was all the more exciting.
Do you remember? The first stirrup pants by Bogner at the end of the fifties? The tight ski pants of the seventies, fitting like a second skin? Or the bright coloured ski overall? Ski fashion history was made high up on the slopes of Corvatsch for more than 50 years. A tribute to nylon, spandex and Bogner.
The history of ski fashion begins in the thirties with an anorak by Maria Bogner for the athletic woman on skis. Feminine, fun and convenient it is the complete opposite of the usual ski clothing made of loden. Bogner's legendary stirrup ski pants made of modern material become the trademark of the company in the early fifties and are worn by stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. In America, the term "Bogners" becomes a synonym for stirrup ski pants and even made it into the dictionary. Maria Bogner presents the stunning outfits often against the impressive backdrop of the Corvatsch. Corvatsch maintains the connection to the company and the family Bogner to this day.
Skijoring looks back on a long tradition in the Engadine. But it was not the horses that established the spectacular sports - but a chamois on Corvatsch.
A race in 1906 is universally accepted as the birth of skijoring: 13 drivers raced successively the route from St. Moritz to Champfèr and back. The winner was Philip Mark with his Irish chestnut gelding "Blitz". He also had been the first man to climb Corvatsch in winter. But strictly speaking, the first skijoring took place on Corvatsch - not with a horse but with a chamois as a draught animal.
Ski pole caught in horns
This is the legend: After a boozy evening Gion, an Engadine mountain guide, restaurant owner and hunter must leave early in the morning with a guest for a ski tour to Piz Corvatsch.
With a humming skull the mountain appears much higher and the ascent more difficult than usual. Suddenly an enormous chamois crosses the trail just in front of Gion's skis. He - quite scared - wants to expel it by using one of his ski poles. But the pole gets caught in the horns of the chamois.
Skijoring tandem with chamois
Gion is torn upward by the chamois. He succeeds just in time to throw his second ski pole towards the guest who catches it and hangs on as well – creating a skijoring tandem with a chamois as draught horse.
In a rush, it goes up to the top. The trio chamois, guest and Gion reach the Corvatsch summit in record time. Gion lets go of the ski pole and the chamois bolts away. Gion mourns the loss of his ski pole. They are unique in the Engadine, as they have been given to him by his Norwegian friend and ski jumper colleague Harald Smith from Oslo. The telemark turns with only one pole struck him now very difficult.
The German athlete, entrepreneur and filmmaker Willy Bogner has produced more than 40 movies and a vast number of fashion shoots in the Engadine and on Corvatsch. Whether for a James Bond movie or the legendary movie spectacle "Fire and Ice" - Bogner loves to highlight his natural backdrops full of originality and timeless beauty. No wonder Corvatsch often gets the main role.
In 1959, Willy Bogner Jr. surprisingly wins the White Ribbon downhill event in St. Moritz - a big sensation. A year later, he finished his initial film work when sport reporter Harry Valerian asked him to become a backstage cameraman at the Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley. Bogner creates his first ski-musical called "Skifaszination" in 1964. He receives an award at the ski film festival in Cortina d'Ampezzo and an interesting phone call from London.
"B" as in Bond and Bogner
The call is from Albert C. Broccoli, producer of the James Bond movies. The rest is history: Bogner films the legendary chase with James Bond in the St. Moritz bobsleigh run at a top speed of 100 kilometres per hour. He shoots with a 16-kilogramme movie camera and specifically designed set of skis that allowed him to ski forwards and backwards. His action scenes are totally authentic and done without any tricks, filmed with the world's best skiers. The British clients are "very amused" and give the next three 007-episodes to the German cameraman on skis.
Ski acrobatics today is called Freestyle. Carving skis have taken the place of classic skis. Skis and pants are wider and helmets are replacing the wind in the hair. Otherwise, not much has changed at Corvatsch: the ski mountain has remained true to itself and its character.
What used to be summer skiing, making the Corvatsch such a special ski mountain, today it is the night skiing, the large snow park and the renowned trend sports events. The Corvatsch enthusiast prefers powder snow over champagne drinking. He feels connected to the glacier world and enjoys the freedom.
The first snowboards
It was something of a sensation when the first snowboards were sighted at Corvatsch in the beginning of the eighties. Sports enthusiasts glided over snow on a simple board with steering line. Although ridiculed by many, those responsible at Corvatsch quickly realized: a new sport is born. Nowadays the Swiss Snowboard Championships Alpine as well as the Freestyle Swiss Championships are held here regularly.
No friends on a powder day!
One thing all freeriders agree on: nothing beats the joy of riding fresh untouched powder snow. Freerider on Corvatsch even top it off: since 2002, the world’s best freeriders meet here annually to conquer the up to 55 degrees steep "North Face" at the Engadine Snow event.
Follow firsthand the daring freeriders mastering incredible jumps in the rocky terrain. An international jury judges safety, line choice and difficulty. Unique to the event is the parallel freeride contest.
Skiing on a wonderful slope while only wearing a t-shirt in glorious sunshine: Until the eighties, skiing also peaked in the summer at Corvatsch. Summer skiing was part of a lifestyle. It was an integral part of the summer activities in the Engadine just like hiking, sailing and golf.
Summer skiing at Corvatsch was possible during twenty-nine years. At the best of times three glacier ski lifts transported up to 340,000 skiing guests per summer. From 1988, the glacier retreated more and more until the ski operation had to be stopped in the summer of 1992. Since then, the mountain belongs to the hikers during the warmer months.
First summer ski races 1908
Already since 1908 - long before summer skiing became the buzzword and ski lifts even were invented - summer ski races were carried out at Corvatsch Glacier. They experienced their height of popularity right after the First World War and during the twenties. The majority of the participants themselves carried the skis up to the start at about 3,000 m above sea level. Those who could afford it, took the handcart from Pontresina to the restaurant Roseg and had the skis transported from there up to Fuorcla by mule.
Willy Bogner is a communications professional, competitive skier, photographer, filmmaker, technology aficionado, family man, world traveller and entrepreneur. In short: a cult figure. His life, both personally and professionally, is closely connected to Corvatsch.
Mr Bogner, how long have you been connected to Corvatsch? And how did it happen?
Mr Bogner, how long have you been connected to Corvatsch? And how did it happen? Our house is located directly across from Corvatsch. When I look out the window, I see it right there and I immediately know what is going on today. I am very attached to this home and all that is connected to it - after all it was built by my parents. That was in 1962! In all those years it was a family meeting place, retreat, source of inspiration, but also the base camp for my film and photo productions in the Engadine, which mainly take place on Corvatsch.
He belongs to the Corvatsch as the icing on the cake. Dorigo Riz à Porta is an Upper Engadin local and allrounder. Restaurant owner, beekeeper, hunter and snow avalanche blaster. He worked for the rescue service until he opens up the restaurant Alpetta located in the middle of the Chastelets slope in 1989. The cosy mountain hut has been a legendary meeting place for locals, snow enthusiasts and celebrities ever since.
The rustic Alpetta hut is one of ten mountain restaurants on Corvatsch. Since 1989, Dorigo and his wife Silvia serve grilled specialties, dishes made from their own game meat, polenta from the big pot and selected wines. The hut and its host became a legend long ago. But who really is behind the famous figure?
Allrounder from Silvaplana
He was born at the foot of Corvatsch - in Silvaplana. And also wants to be nowhere else. Dorigo serves his guests in the Alpetta hut from November until April, his wife always at his side. In his spare time he indulges in his many hobbies - hunting, beekeeping, his little farm, painting and working on his house. And preferably everything in nature.