Best Ski Shop In LENZERHEIDE – PESKO’S PANACHE

PESKO’S PANACHE
BEST SKI SHOP IN LENZERHEIDE FOR  FASHION, CULTURE, AND ART
By LESLIE WOIT

Some fly to Paris for a frock. Others jaunt to New York for that perfect pair of jeans. I am headed on a shopping expedition of a more sportif nature. Skis on, goggles down, I am in cool pursuit of coffee, art, and a formfitting, fur-collared ski jacket at Switzerland’s Pesko Sport Art & Fashion Bar.

Through the course of my journey, I’m among the lucky first to ride the new Urdenbahn, the long-awaited gondola now linking the bijou Swiss village of Arosa to the larger, more sophisticated resort of Lenzerheide. Situated only 90 minutes from Zurich, not only is this heart-ofthe-Swiss-Alps resort now expanded to 139 miles of linked trails, but skiing down to Pesko’s, the area’s loveliest ski boutique, is much more fun, too.

“My grandfather talked about the (Urdenbahn) connection 40 years ago,” says Nico Pesko of the mammoth valley-bridging lift, which expands the total Arosa-Lenzerheide terrain to nearly double its former size. “It’s a plus,” he says, “for both sides.”pesko_1

Nico Pesko, just on the greater side of 30, is part future, part past— an articulate, well-traveled young man representing the third generation of the Pesko ski shop family, purveyors of skiwear for more than 100 years. With a century of alpine history to its name, Pesko is a physical manifestation of skiing’s evolution. “In 1911 my grandfather built the first sport shop. From 1926 until today, we have occupied the same spot in town.”

ave occupied the same spot in town.”  Same spot, radically different design. In 1989 following years of research and travel, Nico’s parents, Jürg and Manuela, unveiled a complete rebuild, this one with generous portions of panache. As Nico says, they opened what we now call “a concept store.” Authentic materials such as wood, iron, stone, and glass lend transparency and brightness to the ample space. The flagship shop isn’t only conveniently located beside the village post office (location, location, location!), it’s a focal point for local culture.

Meander through spaces and departments. A wall of elegantly displayed après-ski boots (for sale), another of local animal trophies (for decoration). Past the head-turning alpine fashion that includes cool Moncler; retro chic Toni Sailer; functional J. Lindeberg; some eye-catching, fur-trimmed KJUS; elegant Frauenschuh; and of course, Bogner (for 50  years Willy Bogner has honored Pesko with his skiwear classics). Mid-store, ascend a center staircase of striking, untreated metal commissioned for the space. Once at the top, another delight: The Pesko patriarch, Jürg, has bequeathed the store, and the resort of Lenzerheide, an art gallery of repute.

“My father became interested in art around 1983,” Nico says. His gallery, situated on the third floor of the Lenzerheide boutique, mounts three or four European and international exhibits each year. Featured artists have included American star James Rizzi and Zermatt luminary, Heinz Julen. The Peskos consider the gallery, Nico explains, “a cultural part of Lenzerheide, a contribution to the community.”

So too is the store’s other welcome amenity: a cozy bar café serving light dishes, fragrant glasses of wine, that sumptuous Swiss staple of rich coffee and delectable cakes. Says Nico, “The café is somewhere to sit, to relax and have a break.”

There is an appetite in exploring the three floors that comprise Pesko’s. Save a little energy for potential rubbernecking, too. Lenzerheide’s local tennis ace, Roger Federer, has a chalet just up the hill. Skiing’s World Cup finals, often held in the region, signal the season’s grand finale, attracting more than 30,000 spectators and its share of luminaries. To help celebrate when the finals are in town, the boutique hosts a World Cup lounge. “This winter,” says Nico, “Bode Miller stopped by for a signing.”pesko_2

World-class athletes are not unusual in these parts, nor indeed in the Pesko family itself. Nico’s sister, Manuela Laura Pesko, is  a former professional snowboarder who won a medal at the Junior World Championships only three years after she first stood on a  board. Manuela would push on to compete in the Olympics and win the Swiss championship in halfpipe. Since retiring, the glamorous ex-snowboarder has married real estate entrepreneur Remo Stoffel. Their wedding took place in Moscow’s Petroff Palace, the former residence of Empress Catherine the Great. Still following the ski circuit, at least as a spectator, Manuela’s second child was born
while visiting Kitzbühel to watch the Hahnenkamm, the most spectacular of skiing’s World Cup races. In her spare time, alongside the likes of soccer greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, Manuela is an ambassador for Laureus, a foundation dedicated to promote sport among youth.

Swigging back a last espresso in the café, it’s time to bid adieu to the art and the beautiful clothing of Pesko’s and brave the elements once more. A short stroll through the snowy village and I’m soon back at the lift station, harboring a good dose of Lenzerheide fashion envy. I click back into my bindings, and make for the snazzy new gondola and the sunny south-facing slopes of Arosa. Each side of this newly expanded ski area has its own character, yet its 139 miles of pistes mean its scale remains manageable. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be back for another look at that fur-collared jacket.

www.pesko.ch

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