Markus Stoll, native to Regensburg, has gotten ten thousand hits on his YouTube video "Harry G über Freerider" ("Harry G about Freeriders"). In total, Harry G draws more than 50 million hits to his YouTube channel. Stoll became an icon as the Munich curmudgeon, and is now steadily performing on Bavarian television and thrilling entire halls on tour and in events. Markus Stoll (also known as Harry G) is actually an enthusiastic athlete – and even has something to say about skiing and snowboarding
From the Munich curmudgeon's point of view: which type of skier is the most tolerable on the piste?
There are two types above all: one is the pure beginner, the cobbler who sticks to his last and conducts himself like a beginner. The other is the whiz who knows the ropes after years and decades, and knows exactly what he's doing. But the problem is the much larger segment between them: the 99 percent that either just actively overestimate themselves, or at least verbally overestimate themselves. Just snobs.
The people who then go sit in the lift and talk about everywhere they've already been and where they want to go next?
So, I was formerly a freerider, semi-pro. I studied in Innsbruck and rubbed shoulders with an unbelievable number of tourists, but also with several freeriders who came to ski as well. You always have the ones who talk about where they were yesterday and where they'll be tomorrow. Only, when you see them on skis they're just not good skiers, regardless of where they were yesterday or will be tomorrow.
Now the trend is very clear on the slopes – and you also make fun of it in your video. Did it used to be more solitary – and nicer?
Basically, you could go to the slopes with the 1.9 meter long skis of the 90s, but back then the wheat was still separated from the chaff. Since then it seems to have become common practice.
The sports industry is capitalizing on the adventure trend, and that little bit extreme just really offensively – and is also making a lot of money on the topic of freeriding.
That's quite clear. It's also similar to the car market. There, racing is the ultimate car experience, and anyone who could buy themselves a sports car would do so if the difference in price weren't so high. It's that much smaller in skiing, so lots of people dream about the adventure land out there: cliff diving and doing saltos on perfect powder. The reality is often that the people slip, with their slats on worn-out shoes.
Of course, you can see the danger behind this trend on the mountain, in the winter as well as the summer: that you could buy safety with equipment and replace experience.
I also notice that in other sports. I used to go mountain biking a lot, downhill. Now I just ride a road bike in Munich. But what catches my eye are the self-proclaimed mountainbike freeriders near the Isar. That would really be a topic for a video, too.
What do you mean, exactly?
One day I was cruising along the trails of the Isar with my cross bike, then someone comes my way with full suspension and shin guards, the complete outfit. And a full-face helmet! A full-face helmet next to the Isar! I wouldn't know what you need that for there. The funniest things were the wide handlebars. That's just about looking cool when you drive past the people having a barbecue at noon, all muddy.
It's definitely funny next to the Isar – but in freeriding, using equipment to overcompensate for a lack of experience can become very dangerous.
I myself have already been in two mini-avalanches. You can't have too much material, but a good measure has to be clear: airbag, shovel, tubes. But you likewise have to work on your knowledge, and a professional avalanche course is a start. You have to have taken one to get any kind of feeling of what it means when you're in an avalanche, in the extreme situation when seconds can be the difference between life and death. It can't be explained to you by your buddies in the pub.
Being able to properly assess the snow situation and danger requires not just a course, but years of experience.
In all honesty: I've been skiing for 33 years now, of which over 20 years have been in the terrain. And I can't assess anything at all; I always have people with me who know what they're doing, and if they say no, then that's okay too.
That means that you can never be too defensive when it comes to assessing unknown terrain?
Michael Schumacher's accident has shown us that it's not just about avalanches. In the worst case, an edged rock can be enough. I was lucky recently. The rock eats into the wax, the ski stops and pulls the rug out from under you, then it smashes your face into the snow like a catapult.
What is your ideal ski environment then? Where did you have the most fun recently?
Always then, when I don't have to work, it had freshly snowed and, curiously enough, there was perfect sunshine as well. Those are my days. I ski until one, max two o'clock and then I have a 'Weissbier'. One. The ones who drink more and then roll down into the classic tourist skiing areas, they're a huge problem.
What does one actually wear while skiing now?
I still know, that was 92 or 93, I had pink pants for snowboarding. That was still radically different back then. Now, virtually every manufacturer makes the building society version. Pink seams on neon green pants. Pink goggles along with them. But that's just when skiing. How many men would consider pink otherwise?