Life after a glittering sports career can feel like a come down for many top athletes, but for Austrian skier Mario Matt the party is still pumping.
The 39-year-old slalom specialist was one of the best skiers of his generation before his retirement in 2015, but he has replaced the thrill of competition with the buzz of owning one of Austria’s most infamous apres-ski bars.
Matt spent 16 seasons on skiing’s World Cup circuit, winning 15 times, clinching slalom world titles in 2001 and 2007 and earning Olympic slalom gold in Sochi in 2014.
With one eye on the future, he also took up the chance to buy the popular Krazy Kanguruh slopeside bar in his home town of St. Anton in 2009. He combines that with running a stable where he breeds prize-winning Arabian horses.
“I could never sit in an office and work from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. so for me it was always important during my career that I built something up beside the ski racing and this was a great chance with the Krazy Kanguruh and with the horses too, I enjoy it a lot,” Matt told CNN’s Alpine Edge.
“It’s a lot of fun, I really love it, it’s a nice job.”
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Celebrated Arlberg resort St. Anton is well-known for its lively social scene after skiing, and Matt says helping holidaymakers enjoy their vacation is part of the attraction.
“With apres ski you have 99% happy people and after a great day skiing people like to sit on the terrace and enjoy the music and the atmosphere. It’s nice,” says Matt, whose younger brother Michael still competes on the circuit, while another brother Andreas won Olympic silver in ski cross at Vancouver in 2010.
“I’ve traveled all over the world but apres ski is nowhere the same than we have in St. Anton.”
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Matt’s career coincided with that of countryman Marcel Hirscher, arguably the greatest ski racer of all time.
The 29-year-old Hirscher has won 67 World Cup victories and is on track to clinch an unprecedented eighth straight World Cup overall crown.
Hirscher finally won his first Olympic gold medal at PyeongChang in 2018, but he had to settle for second behind Matt four years earlier.
“In the end Sochi was the last chance and I think it’s even more special with this high age,” says Matt. “I was 34 and it’s more special than let’s say when you’re 10 years younger.
“It was an incredible feeling. I was just overwhelmed.”
Hear more from Austrian great Mario Matt in the video at the top of the page.