Saas-Fee Stories is a work in progress. It aims to show the evolution of a Swiss mountain village from poverty to prosperity to uncertainty to stability. It speaks through the voices of its oldest inhabitants and through the eyes of each successive generation.


Arnold Andenmatten

7th December 2015

As a gold medal winner at the 1948 winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Arnold Andenmatten is proud to relive the event many times over! At age 93, his physique and personality still reflect the strength, endurance and calm needed to be a biathlon athlete - a sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.


Born in Saas-Fee, Arnold describes his early years in the village, when the summer season was more lucrative than the winter season. The young men at the time worked as summer climbing guides, carrying equipment and supplies for clientele up the high mountains. In winter, they walked up the mountain with their skis, then skied down. Youth of today would not have had the energy for those feats, he ruminates. It was after cable cars were installed that the winter season took off, explains Arnold, along with the post-war arrival of the English.


Coming from a family of nine children - 5 boys and 4 girls - with a household headed by their mother (their father died at age 49), it was a tough life. There were no steady jobs and no work.


Especially in the winter when the valley closed down. Most families had just 1-2 cows, which provided their livelihood and were essential to their survival. There was no road connection to Stalden, the nearest village for supplies, so they had to ski down and walk back up the mountain.


Everybody worked really hard, much harder than the present generation, he says, shaking his head in dismay… The older generation were not “lazy” he emphasises.


Adapting to the changing times and the improved economy, Arnold gradually built chalet apartments and the restaurant Zur Mühle, a popular spot in the village, with its warmth and hospitality, combined with comforting local specialties and history on its walls.

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