After more than 15 years in Para alpine skiing, Switzerland’s Thomas Pfyl owes the sport his large medal haul as well as other life successes, including his marriage.
It was on the alpine circuit that the standing skier met his future wife, Evelyne, 10 years ago. She was then competing as a guide to a Swiss vision impaired skier. With her help, Pfyl made a comeback from an injury last season and is now going full-strength after his golden dream.
Love on the slopes
“She is a good skier,” Pfyl said. “She races as a guide for blind skiers, and in 2011 I found out that she is here on the circuit.”
Evelyne served as a guide for a vision impaired skier until two years ago. Now that the athlete has retired and no vision impaired skiers from Switzerland are competing internationally, she has left the circuit and is working full-time in an office. On top of that, she is managing her husband’s packed schedule as his personal manager.
The pair got married in October 2015. Since Pfyl became a full-time skier this season, they are often apart. Pfyl estimated that he is on the road for training and competition for 200 days a year, though the two still manage to stay in touch through phone calls and some shared trips.
“I call for two hours and then we speak about everything,” Pfyl said. “She understands, but yes, she spends a lot of time alone in Switzerland. It’s good when I see her.”
Going for gold
Evelyne was at the finish line to watch her husband win silver in both super combined and slalom at the 2019 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships.
This accomplishment was all the more noteworthy for Pfyl as he is still on the comeback from an injury he sustained mere days before the previous Worlds in 2017.
The Swiss skier was forced to pull out in 2017 after injuring his Achilles tendon during a giant slalom race at an earlier World Cup stop. He returned to training after eight months of rehabilitation.
“I came back to Kranjska Gora and this was a special moment for me because I got injured two years ago in Kranjska Gora,” Pfyl said. “After that I had some problems, but now I could return and it’s better.”
This was not the first serious injury in Pfyl’s skiing career. He has also fractured his wrist and suffered from back pain in 2013. Despite the physical strain of the sport, Pfyl says there is one goal that still keeps him on the circuit after almost two decades.
“I won a lot of medals in the World Championships, but I don’t have a gold medal and I don’t have a gold medal at the Paralympics,” he said. “This is my goal.”
Pfyl aims to pursue this goal until the 2023 World Para Alpine Skiing World Championships, and then switch his focus to family affairs.
“At the last Paralympic Games my best place was seventh and that’s not my personal best. I want more. In Beijing  I want more than seventh place,” Pfyl said. “But then it will be 20 years in this sport. This is a lot. Enough for my wife and enough for me.”