You think it’s pretty supportive when your old folks showed up at your every gig and show since kindergarten recitals? Think again. Meet Huwiler Gasser (55) and Rita Ruttiman (57), the father and step-mother of a Swiss freestyle skier Mischa Gasser.
It’s quite the no-brainer that a parent of an actual Olympian and his partner are inclined to be more active, but these two take the cake. Instead of watching Misha compete on TV or taking the plane to Pyeongchang, they spend about a year on their bicycles and cycled over 17,000 km, starting in their hometown of Olten, which is 70 km west of the capital city of Zurich.
They left their home last February and the adventure took them through 20 countries with one of the toughest challenges being the Pamir Highway that can reach more than 4,000 meters of elevation and cuts through several countries in Central Asia. “We were really tired afterward. We were finished and had to recover for to three weeks,” said Huwiler, adding that cycling every day was indeed a difficult challenge.
Funnily enough, before the couple reached the Chinese border Huwiler, managed to grow quite the impressive and majestic beard on the way but was denied visa because of it. Because he refused to shave it, the two cyclists had to find another way round but are hoping to ride across China after the Games are over. Ain’t nobody gonna take the man card off this one.
After reaching South Korea, the couple camped outdoors in sub-zero temperatures while getting closer to Pyeongchang’s Phoenix Park, where the Mischa’s freestyle skiing event takes place. But all the perils and obstacles were well worth it, as Huwiler told Reuters Television: “To arrive here and see my son waiting for us. We were really touched. I had no words.” And it was a big deal for Misha (27) too because, according to his father, he’s been wanting to join the ranks of Olympic athletes since he was five.
After they watch him compete, the adventurous duo will continue through South Korea before flying to Japan, from where they plan to return to Switzerland to get not only their visas for China, but also Mongolia and Russia, because they apparently got a long-distance cycling fever.
“We’re crazy!” Huwiler quipped with a laugh. We wish them many happy kilometres and countless adventures and fingers crossed for Mr. Gasser’s beard!