Cross-country skier Philipp Moosmayer trains in the USA

Fairbanks instead of Leutkirch. Alaska instead of Allgäu. University races instead of national squads. The 18-year-old cross-country skier Philipp Moosmayer was accepted into the C squad of the German national team last winter. But the Leutkircher decided on a scholarship in the USA.

Winter in the Allgäu can be tough. Snowy and cold. But Alaska is a different house number. Philipp Moosmayer quickly noticed that. When he got there, a Czech cross-country skier advised him to buy windproof underpants. But an Allgäuer is tough in itself. He knows icy winters. “I don’t need that,” I told him,” says Moosmayer, who now laughs about it. Finally he thought: Nothing can easily throw a real Allgäuer off course.

Cold-proof masks and windproof underpants are mandatory

He broke off the subsequent interval training in a racing suit at half-time. “I drove to the sports shop straight after training and bought windproof underpants,” Moosmayer recalls. The right decision. Because Alaska is not Leutkirch after all.

The winter there is definitely harder than the hardest winter in the Allgäu. “The last few days we had minus 30 degrees here,” says Moosmayer. But training is still outside, with cold-proof masks that warm the icy air a little. But it is precisely this extreme that appeals to Moosmayer, which is exactly why he decided on a cross-country skiing scholarship in Alaska.

For a long time, however, it was uncertain that the 18-year-old would even receive such a scholarship after graduating from high school. “My results didn’t add up,” he recalls. Due to the corona pandemic, there were hardly any competitions, and the Leutkircher lost his interest in sports as a result. He paused. It wasn’t until spring 2021 that he became ambitious again.

Moosmayer is third in the German Cup plus

And then something happened that he himself can’t really explain. The knot burst with him anyway. This was followed last winter by three podium finishes in the German Cup and eighth place in the international race in Italy, the OPA Games. This resulted in the inclusion in the C squad of the German national team. However, Moosmayer already had the scholarship for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “I’ve always said to myself that if I get an offer from the USA, I’ll definitely do it,” says Moosmayer. “Although the national coaches wanted me to stay in Germany, I decided to go to Alaska anyway.”

Own cross-country ski trails directly on campus

Moosmayer is now studying and training in the largest and most sparsely populated state in the USA. “When the offer came from Fairbanks, I first had to see where it was, but it sounded extreme,” says Moosmayer. And that’s exactly what attracted him in the end. A typical day for him is currently a mixture of studying, training, eating and sleeping. “Life there is completely different from what you are used to as a student in this country,” says Moosmayer.

Everything is structured and planned in the universities so that the students can concentrate on their studies and sports. Everything is integrated on the huge campus. There is even a separate police and fire station there; plus a hairdresser, even cross-country ski trails. A city of its own within the city of Fairbanks. Moosmayer sometimes trains twice a day with the other nine selected cross-country skiers from the university. The five women and five men come with the trainers from all over the world: Czech Republic, Norway, Estonia, Canada, even an Australian is there. “The training conditions are really good for us,” says Moosmayer.

So for the Leutkircher himself, it’s a completely new experience in Alaska, far away from home. He has been living there since the beginning of September – initially for a year. It could end up being three or four. But he soon realized how different Alaska is from Germany. “When I went hiking with others in the first few days, we took a bear repellent spray with us,” he says.

However, he does not need to be afraid of bears on the cross-country ski runs at the moment, they would be in their hibernation. But people have more respect for the moose than for the bears. But even these are a long way away for the next few weeks. Because the cross-country skiers are now traveling for around six weeks and taking part in competitions across the USA for the university. “The lectures will then only take place online,” says Moosmayer. The Universiade in Lake Placid is scheduled for the beginning of January. The man from Leutkirch will take part in this, but will start for Germany. However, Moosmayer will miss the Junior World Championships, which would have been a goal for the 18-year-old this winter. The effort for the qualification would be too high, because he would have to take part in different races in Germany.

Started for fun, now with the World Cup in mind

His short-term sporting goal is now to establish himself in the USA. “I want to see how far I can go forward here,” says Moosmayer. “I want to train a lot, improve myself and see what’s possible in Europe after the time in Alaska.” A start in the World Cup or at a World Championships is still a long way off, but definitely in Moosmayer’s mind. He started cross-country skiing in 2012 purely for fun. “I was in third grade at TSG Leutkirch,” Moosmayer recalls. In the skier’s guild he got a taste for it and constantly improved. “I then became more and more professional,” says the man from Leutkirch. Finally, the knot burst last winter and with it came a scholarship in Fairbanks. Something extreme. Snowy and cold. A winter that even a true Allgäuer is not used to. And windproof underpants are essential for cross-country skiers. Philipp Moosmayer now knows that too.

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