Andri Ragettli: top things to know about Switzerland’s freestyle skiing daredevil
The Swiss ski star may well be famous for his history-making quad cork 1800 and his ‘floor-is-lava’ parkour-style videos, but did you also know that tennis ace Roger Federer and esteemed Spanish football club Real Madrid are among his 1.2 million fans?
When the accomplished 23-year-old Swiss isn’t stomping hair-raising runs in slopestyle and Big Air competitions, he’s vlogging his extraordinary parkour (parcour) feats on homemade obstacle courses and the world just can’t seem to stop watching, including Roger Federer.
Ambition and daring, matched with his impressive medal haul and record-breaking style, have won him legions of followers across all social media platforms.
As Ragettli continues his comeback from a devastating knee injury in advance of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in February, here’s the lowdown on freeskiing’s most prolific viral star.
Andri Ragettli: soaring to the top of freestyle skiing
Born a stone’s throw away from the infamous Laax resort, home to some of the most prestigious competitions in winter sports, it’s not an exaggeration to say that Ragettli was destined to ski.
The world champion, who was hitting the slopes at the tender age of two, first started out alpine ski racing. However, once he discovered his life-long passion for thrill-seeking, the youngest of three siblings began jumping, and never looked back.
At eight years old he began competing, and at times even adjusted his age so that he could be admitted into competitions with older age groups. Five years later the phenom was spotted by the Swiss Freeski Team and invited to train with the country’s professionals in America. Just two days after turning 15, Ragettli made his World Cup debut in New Zealand.
Since then, the social media star has stocked his trophy cabinet with a comprehensive collection of titles and prizes.
To date, Ragettli has seven World Cup wins, five X-Games medals, four Crystal Globes and one world championship gold in slopestyle. He missed out on selection for Sochi 2014 but made it to the Olympics for his debut at PyeongChang 2018.
Then, of course, there’s the stuff that history will always remember.
On his X-Games debut, just 16-years-old, Ragettli became the first skier to successfully land back-to-back triple corks in one run during competition, an achievement that married nicely with the world's first ever quad cork 1800 he landed in 2017.
When it comes to success in freeskiing, it doesn’t get much better than the man from Graubünden.
Andri Ragettli: social media stardom in numbers
Though Ragettli may only be 23, the 2021 X-Games Aspen Big Air gold medallist has a sizeable online following and when he isn’t hitting the powder he works to keep them entertained with regular life updates.
His infamous parkour videos, of which there are six so far, have amassed around 2.4 million views on his YouTube account alone.
Andri Ragettli: revered by Roger Federer & Real Madrid
Ever wondered what it takes to impress 20-time Grand Slam winner and all-round tennis legend Roger Federer?
Ragettli demonstrated in one of his many viral parkour videos. Speaking to BBC Sport about the moment is sporting idol recognised his work the skier said:
“I went on Instagram and I saw I got mentioned in a story and Roger Federer reposted my video and he wrote ‘Boss @AndriRagettli’
“That felt amazing, and it just showed me one more time everything is possible.”
It’s not just Federer that has enjoyed Ragettli’s efforts. Olympic legends Usain Bolt and LeBron James both liked the video on Instagram while Novak Djokovic shared an attempt of his own version inspired by the skier.
Spanish football club Real Madrid even spotted Ragettli wearing their shirt as he achieved the seemingly impossible and soon produced a video on the viral star, diving into his love of football.
All in a day’s work for the professional skier.
Andri Ragettli: Injury comeback & Beijing 2022
In a daredevil’s world there is always a risk of getting injured.
In March 2021, just as Ragettli was laying down a run that could have seen him clinch a world championship gold in Big Air, to go with the title he had secured days before in slopestyle, the unthinkable happened.
“I was aiming for the double gold, and I think I was in a good position to do that,” the skier begins in his vlog detailing his accident.
“In my last round there was a lot of wind, and I did way more breaks than in my second run. I wanted to do a triple cork 18 but went a little bigger than I expected. It was not that big that I was super surprised but just a bit bigger so I couldn’t stop the rotation.
“When I crashed, I felt that ‘Wow this was a heavy movement for my knee’ but I didn’t know if something was torn or broken or anything… Stood up, wanted to walk up to get my skis and felt right away, ‘Oh my knee is unstable – it’s not feeling good.”
After flying back to Switzerland for scans, it was later confirmed that Ragettli had almost completely torn his medial cruciate ligament (MCL) as well as tearing his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). He was given nine months as an estimate for his recovery.
“That was hard to swallow, like, was really tough to accept,” the skier continued in his video.
“I was really close to aim for a double gold at the world championships and then in just a split-second everything changes.
“I had a lot of time to reflect the last couple of days and all the inspirations I have in sport, the people I look up to, they all managed these difficult situations like champions, and now it’s time to show what a champion I am.”
During his rehabilitation, Ragettli paused his vlogging so that he could focus on repairing his knee.
Fortunately for fans, he wasn’t gone away too long before he was up to his normal, gravity-defying behaviour.
Now the Swiss is back and jumping once again. His next aim will be getting fit in time to be selected for the Beijing 2022 Games in February.