He was 13 years old and was visiting the site of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as he did every winter as a child. An Olympian from those 1948 Games happened to be there, under whose tutelage Rolf Sachs had his first opportunity to go careening down the icy corridor of the bobsleigh track.
Sachs, a renown Swiss artist and designer, would continue to visit St. Moritz in the winters into his adulthood and would always see a large pink building, abandoned, built for the 1928 Olympics. And while many saw the empty pink structure as perhaps an unwanted feature of the snow white background of the winter playground, Sachs envisioned a fascinating place to reside.
According to this short film by Matthew Donaldson, Sachs asked if he could buy and convert the Stadion St Moritz, and was essentially told “yes” if he could get through the paperwork. In addition to renovating the building into a winter home, he continued to build the only natural bobsleigh course in the world.
Sachs, whose father’s influence made him a purveyor and creator of art, believes his bobsleigh course is also the biggest art sculpture in the world. Not only that, superior to all other bob sleigh courses, this one has no negative environment impact.
“It’s fantastic to see that it was the first bob run and the last one that is still natural,” Sachs says in the film. “If I imagine the environmental impact of an artificial bob run, not only to run it, but to see in the summer these huge concrete walls, it’s really a joy to see how they built this in three weeks, and at the end of the season, it just melts away.”