Interski President Erich Melmer: The most important thing for Interski is to teach people to enjoy skiing
Erich Melmer: Pamporovo is an excellent resort with perfectly maintained slopes
Mr. Melmer, how is the 2019 Interski Congress in Pamporovo going?
Four weeks ago we came to Pamporovo for one last inspection and found some glitches that still needed ironing out. Now, however, we can say that everything is perfect. We are in the best of moods. I’ve been taking part in Interski congresses since 1970 and have rarely witnessed such an upbeat atmosphere as here in Pamporovo. The reason for this is that everything is so close at hand. The demo slope is fantastic, accommodation is flawless and everything is going smoothly and seamlessly. The people of Pamporovo and Interski Bulgaria have made a huge effort to make that happen, and of course, it is now paying off. Now that most of the Congress is already behind us,we are unanimous that this has been a truly great congress that will leave a positive impact in the future of Interski.
At the opening ceremony on Sunday you said that the goals of Interski are changing. What does that mean?
Earlier on, we only spoke about ski teaching techniques. At that time, universities would teach methodology, didactics and the like. There was simply no other subject. Meanwhile, the world has changed and now a whole new opportunity is opening up for ski instructors. The whole world is dealing with issues of nature and the environment, and this is indeed important. And ski instructors, too, can have an impact in that respect. We have ski school curricula that show us exactly what we should be watching out for. Another important task for us is to bring people together. In Pamporovo, we have 1,100 delegates from all over the world. I prefer to stay in the sidelines and watch what’s going on, but I like it best when people make contact, build networks, discuss and debate, get to know one another and exchange contact details. To me as president of Interski, this is what really counts. Because it was the founder of Interski back in 1951 who said that the most important thing is for us to talk to one another. And now that computers are making huge inroads into every walk of life, it is still essential that we come face to face with one another.
What is the most important thing for the future of skiing?
To demonstrate that skiing can be a genuine pleasure. A ski instructor can spread the message and be of much help. Ski instructors teach people how to enjoy the winter sports. In my view the outlook is bright, because no matter what many false prophets are saying, we see more and more people flocking to the resorts and ski schools.
And how will Interski develop in the future?
By staying the course. Interski should not just go with the flow, it should decide many things. Therefore we need to grow, to open up and to state loud and clear that we have the competence to develop ski instruction the world over. Currently we have with us six nations from the East: China, Kazakhstan, Russia… They will also help us develop ski instruction.
Which will be the next countries to join Interski as full members?
We would like to attract all countries where there is skiing and that wish to train ski instructors. Here at Pamporovo we have four observer nations. The Interski Secretary General, the members of the Presidium and myself have all visited those countries. We help them with the training of instructors, we exchange experience with experts from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Turkey. This is our message as far as the development of winter sports is concerned.
What is the place of Bulgaria in winter tourism?
There is no denying that I was surprised by the very good organization of winter tourism in Pamporovo and the excellent condition of the slopes. What I see here in Pamporovo is an indication of how well a resort can develop in Bulgaria. We in the Alps like to say that we are the greatest. But there are wonderful ski centers elsewhere, too, and Pamporovo is one of them.