Story: Enthusiasm of champions

Breaking boundaries on the pistes

The Paralympic athlete Murat Pelit explores Ticino's trails on a monoski or handbike and goes wild.

Paralympic downhill skier Murat Pelit seems to defy the laws of gravity on his monoski. As joint founder of Ti-Rex Sport, he wants to give others with disabilities the opportunity to conquer the mountains.

THE CHARACTER

Murat Pelit, paralympic athlete

Murat Pelit, paralympic athlete
I wanted to give others the opportunity to do some sport and return to the mountains.

A whooshing sound reaches your ears as Murat Pelit flies past down the pistes, carving turns at great speed. And once the cloud of snow has settled again behind him, silence reigns supreme in the glittering white landscape of Airolo in northernmost Ticino. The skiing area near the Saint-Gotthard Massif is the training ground for the elite athlete born in Mendrisiotto, but as a member of the Swiss Paralympic Ski Team, he doesn’t really have much spare time for nostalgic trips home. “During the skiing season I have to travel all over the world for training and competitions.” And the season goes from August to April.

THE FULL STORY


Pelit competes on a monoski, a challenging discipline for wheelchair users where the athlete sits on a chair connected to a ski that cuts through the snow. Instead of poles, skiers use outriggers – like crutches with a small ski at the bottom – for better stability. To the average person, monoskis seem to defy the laws of gravity, especially when Murat takes a curve.

“What you need before the descent is respect, not fear.” The 40-year-old is considered a bit of a daredevil by the national team, and when he speaks with a broad smile and an adventurous glint in his eyes, it quickly becomes obvious why:

Murat Pelit
Murat Pelit

no slope is too steep, no mountain too high and no path too unpassable.

Murat Pelit
Murat Pelit

It was this love of alpine nature that brought him to elite sport after a very difficult time in his life; now a new future awaits him that is very different to what he’d originally planned. The former officer cadet and qualified forest ranger has incomplete paraplegia as a result of treatment to remove a malignant tumour in his lower back in 2003.

The moment I saw an alpine skier, I just wanted to get out onto the pistes. Back out into the mountains at last.

Once he started to feel better, he asked the Swiss Paraplegic Centre what kind of sports someone like him could do. He attended courses, taking part cautiously at first, but throwing himself into it properly in 2010: he joined the Paralympics young talent.

Murat Pelit
Murat Pelit

He competed properly for the first time in 2011 and reached the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang in 2018.

Murat Pelit
Pro tip
The Percorso Murat Pelit is a route designed for people with motor disabilities. The project is the result of a collaboration between the Regional Tourism Organisation, Murat Pelit and Hotel Serpiano.
The Alpi Bedretto Bike - Airolo (Pesciüm) - Airolo is one of the most beautiful itineraries in Upper Ticino. Among grassy pastures, paths and alpine pastures and with a fantastic panorama over the Bedretto Valley.
The Resega Ice Rink, which is well equipped for people in wheelchairs, also offers the possibility of trying ice skating to people with motor disabilities thanks to special skates.

Sport is his life, even in summer. With his downhill handbike, which he also rides off-road, he can even conquer the mountains when there’s no snow. Or he quenches his thirst for adrenaline on the lakes on his sit-wakeboard as it is pulled across the water by a motorboat. But Murat Pelit isn’t just bursting with energy for himself, he’s also passionate about getting others involved.

Murat Pelit

He founded the Ti-Rex Sport association in Airolo together with some friends in 2018.

Murat Pelit
Murat Pelit

Ti-Rex Sport’s tagline is that anyone can try out “unimaginable sports” with them: monoski, dual ski, handbike, sit-wakeboard and even paragliding. Equipment and instructors are available as required. In the winter, Ti-Rex Sport works in conjunction with the Sci Club Lugano which specialises in parasports. Dual ski, for example, involves accompanying another person on a ski bob, and this requires special training. Paragliding is provided by a supplier specialising in tandem flights for people in wheelchairs.

“For me, skiing means freedom, the mountains, time with friends and adrenaline.”

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