Story: From free-heel… to pedals

The traditions of Telemark and adventures by bike

Whether on the ski slopes or on the roads of the Leventina Valley, Hans Bandi has fun.

From telemark skiing pioneer in Ticino to promoter of cycling tourism in the Gotthard region, Hans Bandi has made a significant contribution to what the region has to offer.


Hans Bandi, owner of the Bed&bike Tremola San Gottardo

Hans Bandi,   owner of the Bed&bike Tremola San Gottardo
I’m considered the father of telemark skiing in Ticino, and sometimes even the grandfather.

A racing bike parked in the middle of the room, MTB magazines, photographs, stickers and posters for telemark skiing events and, in a corner, even some period costumes ready for the next free-heel skiing rally. The home of Hans Bondi is packed with history and stories that the local man tells with all the passion and enthusiasm of a boy. 

He remembers his first encounter with this fun sport very clearly. He was 15 and he lent a hand in the local sports shop to make a bit of pocket money. One day a Dynastar representative stopped by and left a pair of telemark skiis to try. Hans therefore taught himself initially, before being assisted by a telemark coach from the then National Masters team in Andermatt, soon growing passionate about the sport and perfecting his technique.

Telemark skiing offered him that sensation of freedom that other winter sports were unable to provid


Nara, Blenio Valley

Hans became a telemark skiing expert in 2003 and organised Ticino’s first Gioventù+Sport course. It marked a turnaround. The course was a real novelty: participants came from all over the canton, but the most enthusiastic were “a small group of friends from the Blenio Valley,” as he himself recalls. Over the course of the year, this same small group, backed by the Telemark Club Ticino organised the first gathering at the ski facilities in Nara. This led to the birth of the Telemarkada, a two-day event that celebrates the tradition of the form of skiing practised by downhill pioneers.

Nara, Valle di Blenio

It was an instant success: a combination of entertainment, amateur races in period costume, and – naturally – plenty to eat and drink, accompanied by music late into the night. Twenty years on, the Telemarkada’s organisational machine now runs on automatic, but the people of the Blenio Valley still seem to be just as enthusiastic about this event as they were the first time.  

I love going up to the Gotthard Pass and chatting with passing cyclists: I listen to their stories and understand their needs.

Hans Bandi doesn’t get bored during the summer months either. As soon as telemark skiing is out of the way, he throws himself into organising professional and amateur cycling events in Ticino, especially in the Gotthard region. Many of these are European competitions that visit Ticino, giving him the opportunity to help them discover the local area. 

Tremola, San Gottardo
Tremola, San Gottardo

A common denominator in the events is the Tremola road, which represents the Paris-Roubaix of the Alps for cyclists.

Tremola, San Gottardo
Airolo, Val Leventina

As Hans explains, the winter season has grown shorter, while the summer season lasts longer. That is why, in 2018, he decided to give the Bar Simmen in Airolo a new purpose, turning it into a facility for cyclists and others too. Today, the Bed&bike Tremola San Gottardo welcomes guests from all over the world, offering them every conceivable comfort and helping to promote the region’s unique features. Hans has placed chairs at the entrance, where he often chats with passing cyclists. 

One story leads to another and Hans Bandi undoubtedly has many more projects in the pipeline for the future.

Tremola, San Gottardo
Pro tip
In addition to the telemark skiing weekend gathering in the Blenio Valley in March, there are numerous other colourful events that transport visitors back in time, helping them discover the area.
Not everyone knows that each hairpin bend of the Tremola has its own name, and that along the road, there is also one of the Grand Tour of Switzerland's Photospots to take your souvenir photo!
The Bed&bike Tremola San Gottardo in Airolo includes everything cyclists need, such as a DIY workshop with small spare parts, an enclosed bike shed, a laundry for washing sports clothing and an e-bike recharging station.

“I want to raise awareness about what the region where I grew up has to offer.”