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SKIING WITH A BOND STUNT-MAN - Kisia Cove, Hotel Schönegg, Wengen
Friday January 19, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined I would ski with a Bond Stunt Man. Yet here I am in Wengen skiing with him & hearing about his Bond adventures.

 

 

Our trip to Wengen was sandwiched between two famous races, the Lauberhorn in Wengen and the Inferno at Mürren.

As we skied we witnessed the aftermath of the big World Cup race, but we could also feel the tension building in anticipation of the amateur race, now in its 75th year, that was to take place in Mürren.

The Inferno race was first organized by a group of ski-crazy brits back in 1928, and today it is the largest amateur skiing race in the world.

It's popular, but it has limited its number of competitors ..... to ‘only' 1,850 skiers that depart from the start at 12 second intervals.

That's some whacky race, covering 14.9 kilometeres!

We wish them both a lot of luck.

But much more exciting than all that....  our ski companion and guide for the next couple of days was none other than Stefan Zurcher - the James Bond stunt man.

.... AND WE WERE GOING TO SKI WITH HIM!

Stefan Zurcher took part as a stunt man in the early James Bond films, but more recently he is the go-to-man that makes dramatic mountain stunts happen.

He is location finder, coordinator, facilitator and organiser of ALL snow-stunt-scenes in ALL recent Bond films, try saying that after a couple of glasses of wine!

But more on James Bond a little later.

First comes the skiing in Wengen.

Stefan Zurcher and his partner Corine skied with us all day.

Stefan with partner CorineStefan with partner Corine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet my new ski friend Stefan.

Stefan Zucher and yours trulyStefan Zurcher and yours truly - a Bond Girl in waiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all skied hard and fast but, Stefan Zurcher raced harder and faster.

His way of leading was to ski fast, taking us around Wengen and Grindlewald at a top speed with impecible precision, style and grace, while Corine patiently skied behind chivvying the slow coaches along, and that included me.

And there was no waiting.

Literally no sooner had we caught up - than in a nano second Stefan had sprinted off again... no time for silly chit-chat or time-wasting - it was bliss.

An unusual moment when Stefan pauses to point out the landscape!An unusual moment when Stefan pauses to point out the landscape!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Hotel Schönegg with StefanTeam staying at Hotel Schönegg in Wengen: Me wearing my bright orange jacket, with Stefan Zurcher standing next to me ... again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eiger and meThe Eiger and me 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the shadow of the three massive peaks the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau this was becoming one of my best skiing experiences so far this season.

As we skied around, we came across tell-tale blue dye marks on the snow that guided the skiers down the Lauberhorn race track for the Men's downhill and on the slalom slope where British slalom skier Dave Ryding had recently competed.

It was amazing to see how quickly the infrastructure of such a colossal sporting event was being dismantled, both in town and on the mountain.

In true Swiss style they had brought in the army.

On the one hand the airforce had flown over to entertain the crowds at the weekend with a dramatic fly by.

Dramatic fly past at Lauberhorn - posted on INstagram by GB's Dave RydingDramatic fly past at Lauberhorn - posted on Instagram by GB's Slalom skier Dave Ryding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when it was all over, the army was drafted in to do the big clear up.

A small battalion had been brought in to remove the safety netting and to dismantle the grandstand on the side of the Hundschopf, that's the signature 40m jump that wows the crowds every time.

It's not a clear photo, but the pictured below shows the grandstand structure on the right slowly being taken apart.

Taking down the netting and the stand by the HundschopfTaking down the netting and the stand by the Hundschopf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Military operationMilitary operation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We weren't actually allowed to ski the top section of the Lauberhorn as it was still icy from race-day.

It was being used for race training at the top, but nevertheless it was as exciting to ski alongside the revered ski track - well almost.

The tips of my skis touched the hallowed ground of the Lauberhorn on the section much lower down.

Little things please me - and this was such a treat.

My feet on the hallowed Lauberhorn snow with soldiers & chopper in action behindMy skis on the Lauberhorn snow with soldiers & chopper in action behind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


But like you I wanted to know more about The Bond Stuntman I was skiing with - Stefan Zurcher...

How did he get involved? Which was his first film? What was his role in Spectre?

"There's a bunch of nutters sitting around a table coming up with one crazy idea after another and you're the guy who's got to make it all happen!", said Stefan.

And, that's precisely what he's been doing for the past 20 years.

He decided to go into the business of producing action movies that included stunts such as; landing from a ski jump on a moving car, arranging for James Bond (Golden Eye) to catch up with an aircraft in free fall, climb into the cockpit and fly away, along with many more crazy daredevil stunts.

Watch the Golden Eye Plane Jump below:

In 1965 he left Wengen at the age of 20, and moved to North America.

He had always been into extreme skiing so swiftly got a job as an instructor.

"Not long after, I discovered skiing for commercials and decided that films was my real calling. One thing led to another, and in 1969 I was a stuntman, one of the skiers in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". It was the first Bond Film I was involved in."

We've got a clip of him skiing in the video below.

He is the first man out of the building, wearing orange clothing, chasing Bond.

Stefan Zurcher's portfolio includes 45 films, with a family of 9 Bond Movies.

Following a serious stunt accident in 1970, he decided to go into production instead.

From 1988 he set up his own Production Company that now serves as location finder, film coordinator, set constructor with complete control over snow sequences.

He's worked with Bob Fosse, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Kenneth Branagh, Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes in Cabaret, Willow, Frankenstein, Golden Eye, Band of Brothers, Spectre and more titles.

This is the familiar snow scene from Spectre that Zurcher worked on.

He gave us a 20 minute presentation explaining what the Spectre snow sequence involved.

It was fascinating.

We're not allowed to use any of the images or storyboards that he included in his presentation, but the stats and detail involved are mind boggling:

In a nutshell it took 18 months to find the location, to design the storyboard, to build the outdoor set in Austria and to shoot the film.

And the detail:

* Every little detail of all the scenes in the stunt is captured by a story-board artist, so everyone has a visual guide of the action. Each day a separate story-board is handed out for that day's shoot.

* 12 months before shooting commenced Stefan went off to find appropriate locations in Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France.

* The exterior of the Ice Q in Solden was selected out of many locations for the start of the chase (all interior shots were in a London studio where the set was reconstructed).

* The main outdoor set was constructed in Obertilliach, a small village with 500 inhabitants in the Austrian Tirol.

* They built 15 of their own houses in a corner of the village so they could be destroyed in the film action shots. The houses were built in the autumn ahead of the shoot. They had to be strong enough to withstand the weight of 5m of snow on its roofs. They had to be solid structures. They were dismantled the following spring.

* 700 film crew descended on the village.

* 10 enormous parking lots were built in the meadows:  a special foil liner was placed on the grass and then gravel placed on top. They brought in 25,000 cubic metres of gravel that's around 2,500 big truck loads. It was spread out and packed down with water making it almost as solid as concrete, by next spring the entire blot on the landscape had been removed.

* Every parking lot contained a sewage system, drinking water, containers for offices, 600 separate loos on site and in the surrounding villages, kitchens, special effects vehicles, parking for the Range Rovers and helicopters used in the shots, special effect cameras, cameras called Russian Arms (yes, I was stumped by this too - it's the huge crane effect that is attached to the exterior of the vehicle complete with camera!!).

* A snow team of 30 people worked round the clock to guarantee perfect snow conditions on the road and in the forest.

* Water was required for snow making. They had to lay water and power lines to supply a big water tank and a high pressure pump was used to serve the snow making machines. At the end of each day of shooting, the road had to be cleaned and resufaced with snow every night. Snow cats prepared the area to perfection in preparation of the next day's shoot.

* 2 x 20 tonne cranes were used in order to simulate the flight in the forest. The plane was 18m wide and the path through the trees was only 20m wide. Special Carbon Fibre cables were used between the cranes. Laser equipment was used to ensure the 1kilometre path through the trees was in a straight line.

* Thousands of trees were chopped down in the 1kilometer path that was 20m wide.  The entire length was later replanted with new trees.

* The width of the plane gets smaller and smaller as it goes through the trees. Special effects guys put explosives on the wings to break off the wings when it collides with the wood stacks.

Awesome - all the above was for around 5 minutes of film!

Stefan Zurcher with the plane for the crash sceneStefan Zurcher with the plane for the crash scene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wiring between cranes with plane simulation Wiring between cranes with plane simulation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plane between 2 cranesThe plane between 2 cranes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAMES BOND FILMS STEFAN ZURCHER HAS BEEN INVOLVED WITH

2015 - 007 Spectre

2012 - 007 Skyfall

2008 - 007 Quantum of Solace - Bregenze

1999 - 007 The World is Not Enough

1996 - 007 Golden Eye

1986 - 007 The Living Daylights

1984 - 007 A View to a kill

1977 - 007 The Spy Who Loved Me

1969 - 007 On Her Majesty's Secret Service

And the next Bond Movie ... We have it on good authority that Stefan Zurcher has recently been to California to discuss the next Bond film.

As one would expect he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement so couldn't answer any questions!

But that hasn't stopped me guessing.

So what have we gleaned about the new Bond film?  Not a lot! 😎

We know Daniel Craig is appearing as the next Bond for £90Million - well that news was out months ago.

We know there will be at least one snow-sure stunt as Stefan has been to California to discuss the film... we are guessing that Stefan is NOW searching for the snow locations.

Could one location be in Wengen?

Watch this space ......

AND TO MOVE SEAMLESSLY ON TO THE SUBJECT OF 'WATCHES' - THAT FAMOUS BOND WATCH

Stefan was given the watch worn by Daniel Craig in Spectre.

According to Q. it "Tells the time. But do be careful with the alarm, it's rather loud."

According to Stefan Zurcher, "Watch out, don't touch it, it'll explode."

Phew - lucky for me I didn't!! 🤣

Stefan Zurcher with his watch from Spectre ... the alarm, It's rather loud!Stefan Zurcher with his watch from Spectre ... the alarm, It's rather loud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in Wengen, Switzerland, PlanetSKI had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Schönegg and meeting Chef Sylvian Stefanazzi Ogi from the Valais canton, and enjoying his exrtaordinarily delicious food and wine. More on that experience to follow.

FACT BOX:

Stay at the Schönegg Hotel in Wengen from 990CHF per room for 3 nights in a classic double room on a half board basis including taxi transfer from Wengen train station.  *City tax applicable 3.80CHF per person per day. See More Here & To Book.

Ski Hire from Molitor Sport:   From 90.90 CHF for 3 days rental (adult).  Save 10% by booking in advance Online.

Jungfrau Ski Pass:   204CHF for 3 days Jungfrau Ski Pass.  Available Online.

Stefan and meStefan Zurcher and Bond Girl, Kisia Cove - my best day skiing so far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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