The Legendary Metrohm Ski Race
A company tradition since 1957
I am sure, you know this: You organize a little event, for example a football tournament with colleagues from work on a Saturday afternoon, a daytrip with friends to the mountains with a nice dinner in the evening – these kind of things. Because it is fun and everybody enjoys it, you decide to repeat it the year after. And without you being able to say exactly when, your little football tournament has become a tradition nobody wants to miss any more. The Metrohm company ski race is such a tradition that is still alive today and this story is how this it came into being.
It must have been on a winter day in the middle of the 1950s, and Metrohm founder Bertold Suhner was skitouring in the Appenzell region, when he happened to meet a group of skiers competing in a race on a slope. It turned out that they were people from the Bühler company from the nearby village of Uzwil (yes, you assume right, the very same company that has grown to become a world leader in technologies for grain processing). René Bühler, a friend of Bertold Suhner and one of the people competing on that day spontaneously challenged Suhner to participate in the race, which he did. The idea was considered then why not to organize a ski race Bühler vs. Metrohm. However, when the Bühler guys learned there would be at least 20 participants from Metrohm, they were not so convinced any more. It became clear that Metrohm would have to organize its own company ski race – which Suhner did.
The first Metrohm Ski Race took place in early March 1957 on the slopes of Schwägalp, right below Mt. Säntis, which is where the video below was taken. Enjoy watching it – particularly the opening sequences, where you can see Bertold Suhner (I am almost 100% sure that it is him). By the way, Suhner won the race on that day, and also the race in the following year.
Also, I am very happy to show you the challenge tophy, which was designed in those days and handed over to the winner of the day every year at a ceremony after the competition. If I remember correctly, I have seen it mothballed somewhere the basement here at our Headquarter in Herisau.
The Tradition Is Still Alive
While the challenge trophy may not be awarded any longer, the tradition itself is still alive. These days, the Metrohm Ski Race takes place every two years. And while in the early days, a single coach was enough to bring everyone to the ski slope, it takes up to 4 coaches today for all participants to travel on the “Metrohm Skitag” (Metrohm Ski Day) as the event is called today.
The Metrohm Ski Race itself is still all about the fun of competing with colleagues. Nevertheless, it is taken quite seriously by the participants, and today it is fractions of seconds that decide about the final rankings. These days, the race is organized to almost professional standards in the mountain village of Lenzerheide (Canton of Grisons) on a ski run, which is reserved for Metrohm on that particular day. The Metrohm Skitag always ends with a dinner in a restaurant on our way home. The winners of the day are awarded their prices (vouchers for for shopping at Swiss supermarkets MIGROS or COOP), and everyone enjoys one of the rare occasions, when almost the whole company spends an evening together.