CYCLING across the world from Switzerland to South Korea, one couple has spent a whole year travelling to see their son complete in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
After a journey spanning 20 countries and 17,000km, the father and stepmother of Swiss freestyle skier Mischa Gasser finally arrived in Pyeongchang two weeks ago.
Embarking from their home in Olten 70km west of Zurich last February, the couple’s trip has taken them through Italy and Iran, Kazakhstan to Cambodia.
Kirgistan Bald erreichen wir schattige Stellen mit viel Eis am Boden, es hat Schnee der Wind pfeift uns von hinten um die Ohren. Blauer Himmel weiße Berge das erste Mal dieses Jahr wo wir den Schnee unter den Rädern haben. #cyclingtheworld #cycling #adventure #ausgebüxt #ausgebuext #passion #livingthedream #kirgistan
“To arrive here and see my son waiting for us. We were really touched. I had no words,” Guido Huwiler, 55, told Reuters Television.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 24, 2018
“My dad is crazy,” Gasser told Yahoo Sports. “He was a skydiver as well in his younger age. It’s just what they have to do.”
Huwiler, who sported a long bushy beard, and Rita Ruttimann, 57, said cycling every day was difficult.
Their toughest challenge was travelling the Pamir Highway which can reach more that 4,000 metres in height as it crosses several countries in Central Asia. “We were really tired afterward. We were finished and had to recover for two to three weeks,” he said.
English further down Die Chinesen wollen dass man rasiert ist, wenn man die Botschaft beträgt. Auch müssen Visafotos mit rasiertem Kopf präsentiert werden. Dabei ist noch nicht garantiert dass man das Visa bekommt. Okay, das Zugticket für heute Abend ist gebucht wir fahren zurück nach Almaty. Dort gehen wir noch einmal zum chinesischen Konsulat und schauen ob ich unrasiert reinkomme. WOHIN WÜRDEST DU FLIEGEN WENN DU IM FEBRUAR DENNOCH IN SÜDKOREA SEIN WILLST. ZWEI FLÜGE SIND ERLAUBT. Wohin würdest du fliegen wenn du im Februar dennoch in Südkorea sein willst. Zwei Flüge sind erlaubt. #ausgebüxt #ausgebuext #passion #biketour #bicycletouring #worldtrip #worldtravelpics #adventuretravel #journey #naturelover #nomadlife #vagabond #globetrotter #voyage #aroundtheworld #mtb #cyclingphotos #nomad #dirtroad #explore #travelphotography📷 English The Chinese want me to be shaved when entering the embassy. I also have to use photos with shaved head. And it's still not shure you get the visa. It's just to enter the embassy….. Interesting Okay, the train ticket for tonight is booked we go back to Almaty, checking the chinese consul there. Where would you fly, if you still want to be in South Korea in February? Two flights are allowed.
When they reached the Chinese border, Huwiler said he was refused a visa because of his beard. He refused to cut it but they are hoping to travel through China later in the journey.
In South Korea, the couple camped outdoors in sub-zero temperatures en route to Pyeongchang’s Phoenix Park, the venue for Gasser’s freestyle skiing event.
“They’re here for supporting us and our [Swiss] team,” Gasser was quoted by Yahoo Sports as saying. “All the guys think it’s just great.”
Huwiler said his 26-year-old son had dreamed of competing in the Olympics since he was four or five years old. “I think it’s most important that he lives his dream and I just wish to be close to him when he gets this moment,” Huwiler said.
Perhaps spurred by his dad’s attendance, the Olympian was ranked fifth in the qualifying round of Men’s Aerials to make it into the final.
After the Games, the cyclists will continue through South Korea before flying to Japan. From there they plan to return to Switzerland to get visas for China, Russia and Mongolia before resuming their adventure.
Additional reporting from Reuters.