Ski More Expansively: Max Kroneck

When he’s not skiing, taking pictures, or biking to the mountains across Europe, Kroneck is working on becoming a mountain guide.

Max Kroneck portrait

Münsing, Germany-based athlete Max Kroneck knew from an early age that he didn’t want to be hemmed in by the limitations of a ski trail. Even as a teenager, his heart was set on making skiing a profession. But even after working toward becoming a ski instructor, he realized that his desires lay off-piste. So Kroneck jumped feet first into a career as a freeride athlete. To add to his passions, he also took on the world of photography and videography to be able to see more—and ski more—from a variety of perspectives. And with each passing season, Kroneck continues to add to his adventure repertoire while redefining what exploration means in his professions.

“For me skiing is just one option for how you can move in the mountains and how you can explore your ground,” Kroneck says of his eclectic mountain modus operandi. “That’s the main reason why I ski—exploring my area. Personally, it’s very important to explore the area in your backyard, not far, far away. It doesn’t matter if it’s on skis or with a bike or running or climbing, it’s just about being out.” His multi-sport approach allows Kroneck to see adventure where others would not, an attitude that’s also reflected in the places he chooses to explore. Through his unique approach to the mountains, he’s working to redefine what a grand adventure means—it doesn’t have to happen at the other side of the world, it can happen close to home.

Since 2014, Kroneck has worked on film projects with the Düsseldorf-based production company, El Flamingo Films. Through this relationship, he is able to document his homegrown take on travel. “[With my 2018 film Ice and Palms] I was inspired to use my bike to get to the mountains. It’s an even better feeling to stand on a peak when that’s how you got there. You work way harder than you normally would have done. After we filmed Ice and Palms, I always biked to every climb and it was just normal to me. I would ride bikes for three or four hours a day and I didn’t feel it.”

Ice and Palms follows Kroneck’s journey along with friend and freeride skier, Jochen Mesle, as they journey from Germany’s Alps to the Mediterranean on bikes, with skis in tow. Their goal: to tag peaks along the way on their human-powered journey.

“Before Ice and Palms, Jochen and me, we didn’t bike a lot. But now we both bike a ton, so we think there’s way more that’s possible,” Kroneck says about future plans for a multi-sport journey that’s in its nascent planning phase. “We should look to other sports like climbing. Right now there’s a movement for everyone to try to find some exotic, strange new route and new places to explore sports, but if you make combinations with different sports, you can start next to your door.”

To make these trips possible, Kroneck demands that his gear is up for any challenge. “For me it’s important that I’m able to use my equipment in every situation. The best thing is to just have one ski and that’s it,” he says of his particular taste in skis and boots. “In skiing it’s hard to say what my go-to ski is, but usually if I’m not filming, I have one setup I always use—that’s the Ranger 96 with the Ranger 130 boot and a super light pin binding—that’s it. I ski with this system on groomers and jumping and all the other things I like to do.”

In addition to performing for the camera, Kroneck also has passions in the visual arts, demonstrated by his pursuits in photography. He loves the perspective that life on the other side of the lens allows him. “If you can bring together the two different sides of the lens—the athlete and the photographer—you can do better at each,” he explains of the blending of vantage points. When he’s the one behind the camera, however, he looks to a setup that’s more fleet of foot. “If my job is just taking pictures, for me it’s super important to have lighter but more universal equipment—so that’s the touring equipment. I just want to move faster than the other guys to get a picture. The Hannibal 96 with a superlight binding with no brakes and the Traverse boot works for those situations.”

When he’s not taking pictures or biking to the mountains across Europe, Kroneck is working on expanding his career goals. “The training to be a mountain guide is three years and I’ve made it through one-and-a-half years of training so far,” he says of his current education-based objective. “When I was younger, I couldn’t imagine spending my whole year just standing on the slope and not going outside of the boundaries. So, from that point on, I knew that if I wanted to do something in that direction, I needed to be a mountain guide.”

Guide training seems like a natural progression for someone driven by the continued cultivation of a diverse mountain experience and he suggests that his success lies in his ability to see possibilities where others see only limitations. “It doesn’t matter if you find perfect conditions or not. If you don’t find perfect conditions, you need to choose something different—how you move and how you can have fun. There are a lot of opportunities to explore if you just look around the corner.