The Engadin has become a place where freestyle sports are valued and celebrated. And in 2025 the Freestyle World Championships will take place in the Engadin, which will be a great opportunity to further promote these sports and to complete any necessary infrastructural projects. However, some would argue that the term "freestyle" should be used less. At least that's what Paolo La Fata, managing director of Fresk Freestyle Academy, says. "I have the feeling that it squeezes you into a box, has some negative connotations, and besides, we don't want to become a second Laax." The alternative is still being tweaked. "This will probably require an evening in a bar, then the good ideas come sooner or later," he says, and adds after a short pause with a grin: "So “freestyle” it remains…"
And Paolo is one of the people who stands for the freestyle scene in the Engadin and is involved in, among other things, pushing forward infrastructure projects. Because only in this way can you properly position yourself and make yourself visible to the outside world.
The 45-year-old grew up in Samedan, where he still lives today with his wife and two children. After training as a structural engineer and completing an additional apprenticeship as a bricklayer, he moved to Lucerne for six months before returning home. In 2013, after jobs in construction management in the summer and ski school in the winter, he started his own business and since then has put everything he has into what his heart beats for: Freestyle. He wanted to build something that did not yet exist - an opportunity for local children and guests. The result was "Fresk" the Freestyle Academy, which now involves more than 80 local kids.
"The family has grown quickly," says La Fata, who wants to offer the kids and young people action sports in both summer and winter. That, in fact, is what he means by the term "freestyle" - sports that are "out of the box" as Paolo puts it. "There is no right and wrong when someone does a trick, no exact guidelines, but the kids should try something out, find their way - we try to give them the tools to do that." There are now 12 employees who work full or part time. In addition to weekly lessons for local children, Fresk offers various freestyle camps for locals and guests during the winter sports vacations, over Christmas, and for six weeks in the summer. The aim is to give children and young people the opportunity to try out as many sports as possible, which for Paolo fall under the heading of “freestyle.” These include the classic freestyle sports such as snowboarding and freeskiing, but also include biking, skating, skimboarding, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. And it's all about strengthening group cohesion - which is usually a given among freestylers. "Those who practice freestyle also live the lifestyle - it's the feeling of being part of a big family." The level of each individual doesn't matter - anyone who enjoys it can and should join in. Whether it's amateurs, competitive athletes, or tourists - at Fresk everything comes together. If someone from their ranks then makes it into the Swissski squad, it is of course all the nicer. "Then we haven't done everything wrong," says Paolo and laughs heartily.
What does Fresk stand for anyway, we ask La Fata. "You can choose - freestyle skills, freeski, or freestyle kids. But basically fresc means fresh in the Valtellina dialect.
Fresk, the Freestyle Academy, is all about getting kids and adults excited about freestyle sports. It's about making it accessible to everyone. Because freestyle also means being part of a big family. In the Freestyle Camps, the experience you have together with your friends or new buddies is the most important thing. Do you prefer to be on your own? No problem - find the right offer here.
Whether private lessons, day courses or camps. Everything about freestyle sports.
In May 2022, a new outdoor facility will open at the Mulets Sports Center in Silvaplana which will offer a lot. This includes a 3-person trampoline station with air cushions, a 30-meter-long skimboard track, i.e. a pool filled with a small amount of water in which you can glide with the board and do tricks, a wider wooden pump track that is also suitable for skateboards, a dry slope facility with rails in varying levels of difficulty, and a wooden wave for surf skating. "That's good for us as a team and, because it's visible, it makes it easier for beginners to get started - which in turn is important for the whole development of the program." What is still missing, he said, is an indoor offering - a freestyle hall. "I've been working on this project for more than 10 years, but it has always failed because we couldn't find a suitable location." The Freestyle World Championships, which will take place in the Engadin in 2025, should have a positive effect on the project and hopefully lead to the hall becoming a reality. "Then we would have a super offering - although I would still have other ideas." Paolo La Fata will probably never run out of them - as uncertain as the future of a freestyle hall in the Engadin is, that much is certain.