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The history of HIF

HIF can look back on a long history: It was founded on October 1st, 1793 by Andrea Rosius à Porta, a teacher and son of a priest, in the need of establishing a school for the well to do Engadine youth, that, at the time, had to travel far to receive appropriate schooling. Right from the beginning, à Porta accepted girls as students. Influenced by the mindset and ideas of Pestalozzi, he offered a style of education that transmitted knowledge on a one-to-one basis and was built on the foundation of friendliness, patience and gentleness. He called upon parents and teachers to all boost the intellect of children, in order to make sure they found pleasure in learning.

After the largest part of the village of Ftan was destroyed by fire in 1794, the Institute was temporarily moved to Zuoz in 1796. Apart from the ethical/religious orientation of lessons, the study of foreign languages was a second area of focus. Andrea Rosius à Porta ran his Institute himself until 1829, when he handed it over to his two sons. He passed away in 1838. Through his textbook and the establishment of the first private school in the Engadine, he laid the foundation for higher education in this part of Switzerland.

Once the Lower Engadine overcame its isolation with the building of the Rhaetian Railway in 1913, à Porta’s Institute was renamed to High Alpine Girls‘ Institute Fetan, which then opened its doors to boys from 1976 and since 1993 has been run under the name High Alpine Institute Ftan.

HIF sports academy - a success story

The success story of our sports academy began in the early 1990s, when the academy was launched in order to attract a higher number of students to our school. Director Fritz Gutbrodt, headmaster Jürg Wagner and coach Joe Zangerl laid the foundations of this new department.

Students who take part in the sports academy have since been integrated in the school’s regular classes and are thus able to finish their education in the prescribed time periods. They can choose from a wide array of academic programs and degrees.

Over the years, HIF became the center of regional sports promotion for young athletes. Today, it is a sports school and a training center of the Grison Ski Association as well as a regional performance center of Swiss-Ski, Switzerland’s National Ski Association. Students of HIF as well as students and athletes visiting a different school within the region are integrated in these training structures.

The last 20 years have seen numerous young athletes reaching their competitive goals which demonstrates the success of the sports academy. „You don’t have to be great to attend this school, you can attend in order to become great“ – this sentence sums up the philosophy of the sports academy. Students who show interest, will and commitment have the chance and perfectly balanced support needed to reach both their academic and athletic goals.

Joe Zangerl is hired as the first coach of the sports academy. The department starts the school year with 19 students, 11 boarders and 8 day students. 

Foundation of the regional training center SNAF (Snowboard, Nordic, Alpine Fun) - supported by the Grison Ski Federation. Two additional coaches are hired to support Joe Zangerl –  Konstantin Punt – ski alpine coach and Odd Kare Sivertsen – cross-country coach.

The number of students participating in the sports academy continues to rise. The school year 1997/1998 counts 30 students.

Swiss-Ski recognizes HIF as a school of higher education and sports school.

The sports academy writes ist first success story: Vinzens Lüps wins the silver medal at the snowboard halfpipe Junior World Championship.

HIF adds inline skating as an additional athletic discipline.

Yet another successful year for HIF: Jacqueline Hangl wins the silver medal in giant slalom at the Swiss Alpine Ski Championships. Nevin Galmarini wins the Swiss Nokia Tour for junior snowboarders.

HIF receives the Swiss Olympic Private Sport School Label.

Ursina Haller wins the gold medal at the snowboard halfpipe Junior World Championship.

Dario Cologna wins the bronze medal in the 10km classical at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships. Christian Haller finishes fourth at the snowboard halfpipe Junior World Championship.

Odd Kare Sivertsen becomes head of the athletic department in April 2008.

HIF is confirmed a Swiss Olympic Sport School.

SNAF is dissolved and replaced by the Skisport Förderverein Regiun Parc Naziunal. All operations of the regional junior athletes in the disciplines of ski alpine, snowboard, cross-country skiing and biathlon are managed by the HIF sports academy.

HIF adds table tennis to its athletic repertoire and hires Oliver Gamm as coach. 

With Dario Cologna, Christian and Ursina Haller, Nevin Galmarini and Urs Imboden, five former HIF student-athletes participate in the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada. Cross-country skier Dario Cologna triumphes and wins the gold medal in the 15 km freestyle.

HIF invests CHF2 million for a new training facility including gym, weight room, meeting room, therapy rooms and offices.

Mario Denoth replaces Odd Kare Sivertsen as head of the sports academy.

In collaboration with the local ice hockey club Engiadina (CdHE), ice hockey is added as a new discipline.

Seven former HIF student-athletes participate in the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Dario Cologna wins the gold medal in skiathlon as well as the 15 km classical race. Nevin Galmarini returns home with the silver medal in the snowboard giant parallel slalom.

On 27th of September 2014, HIF celebrates the 20 year anniversary of its sports academy with an open house party for the local population. The sports academy counts 60 students-athletes.

HIF looses the Swiss Olympic Sport School Label, as the number of student-athletes does not fulfill the requirements of Swiss Olympic.

In February 2016, Muriel Hüberli replaces Mario Denoth as head of the sports academy. In March 2016, Swiss-Ski recognizes and certifies the region Lower Engadine Samnaun as a regional ski alpine performance center with its local base at HIF. 

In collaboration with the Vulpera Golf Club, HIF introduces golf as its new summer sport.

Six former HIF student-athletes or athletes of our region participate in the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Southkorea. Dario Cologna (cross-country skiing), Nevin Galmarini (snowboard alpine), Irene Cadurisch (biathlon), Talina Gantenbein (skicross), Thomas Tumler (alpine skiing) and Elena Könz (snowboard freestyle). Dario Cologna wins the gold medal in the 15 km skate race and Nevin Galmarini wins the gold medal in the parallel giant slalom. Biathlete Irene Cadurisch wins two Olympic diplomas in the sprint and in the relay.

On the weekend of the 29th/30th of September 2018, HIF celebrates its 225 year anniversary with official festivities and different concerts by HIF alumni (Sarott siblings, Bibivaplan, Rezia and Snook). The event rounds up with the biggest class and alumni reunion in HIFs history. HIF is among Switzerland’s oldest schools and started off in 1793 as a girls only boarding school, founded by Andrea Rosius à Porta.


Muriel Hüberli
Muriel Hüberli
Head of sports academy
+41 81 861 22 87


Buolf Näff
Buolf Näff
Sports academy assistant
+41 81 861 22 87