Pliés and deep snow

The door to a career as a prima ballerina on the great stages of the world was open to her, but her longing for ski tours in the Valais mountains was stronger. Now, Stephanie Schelling combines these two seemingly contrasting hobbies.

Passion for dance and snow

Stephanie Schelling has been dancing since she was five and teaches modern dance and ballet. During her spare time, she swaps her ballet shoes for ski boots to indulge in her second great passion: freeriding and ski touring.

Dream powder without end

Glittering snow crystals and no ski tracks to be seen on the soft blanket of snow ahead. Stephanie starts to feel butterflies in her stomach – the mere thought of slopes covered in pristine powder fills her with joy. She has been skiing since she was five and loved to spend her teenage years on the hunt for perfect deep snow off-piste. The mountain world all around her home offers endless possibilities in this regard.

Nearly on the world’s great stages

Stephanie’s love of powder snow is matched only by her passion for dance. As a young girl, she followed in the footsteps of her role model – her big sister – and took up ballet. By chance, she was given the opportunity to audition at the Zurich Dance Academy – and was promptly awarded one of their coveted training spots. The door to great stages around the world was wide open to her.

Stephanie remained at the renowned ballet school in Zurich for one year, but she found the training a little rigid. The brutal regime at the Dance Academy almost took the joy out of dancing for her. Stephanie felt drawn back to the Valais, though she did not give up dancing. Quite the opposite: she started teaching ballet and modern dance. And she continues to dance to this day.

Stefanie Schelling, ski, Lötschental. Valais, Switzerland

Silence, mountains – and anticipation ahead of the downhill.

The air is icy cold and the views crystal clear. The total silence is disturbed only by the wind brushing against their clothing. Stephanie and her husband Andreas are atop the summit. All around, mountains stand proudly alongside each other, covered in a thick blanket of snow. To the south and west, the striking 4,000m peaks seem to be engaged in a tête-à-tête, while far below lies the snowy countryside of the Lötschental. This almost feels like being on top of the world. These views are the reward for the strenuous ascent.

Bulky ski shoes, heavy rucksack, wide skis, icy cold – an utter contrast to ballet? Not for Stephanie. The subtle steps of ballet are reflected in her elegant skiing style and the sense of perfect load distribution in the turns. The exertion of skiing gives her the additional endurance she needs while dancing.

Out of bed at the crack of dawn and onto touring skis through pristine snow-covered landscapes to climb a peak – for Stephanie, this is a perfect winter’s day. The highlight of the outing: an exhilarating descent on a thick blanket of soft snow. Stephanie and Andreas whizz downhill at quite some pace. Cries of pure delight fill the air as they speed into the valley taking wide turns.

For Stephanie, a successful ski tour does not end with the final turn but on a sunny terrace. From here, the gaze wanders once more up to the peak and over the tracks they have left on its slopes and couloirs. As the adrenaline levels start to wane, a deep sense of contentment remains. They finish the day with big smiles on their faces – and full of anticipation for the next tour.

Published : October 2019
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