The free skier is looking forward to this task. For him, it’s a changeover: Last year, he was among the athletes who ran for those who can’t.
Elias Ambühl, do you look forward to being the catcher car driver on May 8th?
I am stoked to be the catcher car driver! Last year, I was part of the event as a runner. The atmosphere was incredible, all these emotions! I think it's great that so many people team up for a good cause and have so much fun at the same time. The masses of people and the common goal, I really think that's great.
How did you feel as a runner last year?
Frankly, I was dead tired. The event took place one week after the last competition of the tour. The season had been eight months long. But it’s not like I never go jogging. Plus, the masses, the enthusiasm, that gives you so much energy, those were incredible moments.
What exactly does the catcher car do?
It sort of rolls the field up from behind – if the car catches up with you, you’re out. First, I give the runners a 30 minutes’ head start. Then I start driving at 15 km/h and get faster from there. After five and a half hours I reach my top speed of 35 km/h. I am a passionate driver, normally not the patient kind. But there will be many people by the road cheering and so many runners on the track, so there won’t be any chance of me getting bored.
Elite athletes and recreational runners run side by side at the Wings for Life World Run for those who can't. What does action mean to you personally?
I can't really imagine life without exercise. Our sport is the intensification of movement, so to speak: Flying through the air means total freedom. Having said this, I really have great respect for people that don't give up after a spinal cord injury, that don't resign or grow bitter but make the best of it and go skiing on a mono ski, for instance.
As the catcher car driver, will you be more of a killjoy for the runners, or will you bring them relief?
(laughing) Well, after my experiences from last year, I'd rather say I'll bring them relief.
Elias Ambühl (24) was born in the Grison town of Masein. Since 2009 he has been participating in competitions of the AFP World Tour in the disciplines Big Air and Slopestyle. In his first year on the tour, he finished second at freestyle.ch in Zurich in the category Big Air. In 2015 and in 2016, he won bronze medals at the winter X-Games. His goal for next year: To do even better at the X-Games.