Fame and glory – The Hahnenkamm Race in Kitzbühel
High speeds, spectacular falls and legendary parties. The prestigious Hahnenkamm Race has fascinated athletes and spectators alike for over 70 years now. Every year the best ski racers in the world fight for victory – it is about World Cup points, but above all about fame and honour.
This major event attracts up to 100,000 visitors to the small town of Kitzbühel this weekend. For the Kitzbühelers themselves, it is the sporting and social highlight of the year. Winter sports have a great and successful tradition in the town with only 8,000 inhabitants. The athletes of the K.S.C. have already won 53 Olympic and world championship medals. Famous ski legends such as Toni Sailer and Christian Pravda have been born by the club.
Nevertheless, not only the athletes from Kitzbühel are internationally known. “Die Streif” – one of the most dangerous and demanding ski slopes in the world – is right on Kitzbühel’s doorstep. Since 1937, this slope has been the scene of the Hahnenkamm Race. Since the introduction of the World Cup in 1967, the races have taken place within the framework of this racing series.
The athletes compete in the disciplines downhill (Streif), super-G (Streif), slalom (Ganslernhang) and overall. The winner of the overall competition is determined by adding the running times of downhill and slalom. However, only the winner of the combination may officially call himself Hahnenkamm winner. Three times title winners will be awarded with the “Hahnenkamm-needle” in gold with diamonds; only tenathletes have achieved this feat so far.
“I think we are crazy” – Prestige is greater than risk
Most ski racers dream of winning the Hahnenkamm race, but sometimes they risk too much. Heavy falls regularly overshadow the competitions. Many athletes injured themselves so badly that they had to end their career afterwards. An example of this is the fall of Daniel Albrecht in 2009. The Swiss suffered a severe craniocerebral trauma and lung contusions, only after three weeks did Albrecht wake up from his coma again.
After a two-year break and a failed comeback attempt, the 30-year-old ski racer announced the end of his career. However, maybe that is where the attraction of the race lies. The track requires more courage, skill and ability than any other World Cup track. The riders reach top speeds of 140 km/h and sometimes jump 80 meters. A part of the winding track even has a gradient of 85%. I congratulate everyone who has descended here. “I think we’re crazy”, said five-time downhill winner Didier Cuche in an interview.
2019: Fourth triumph for Paris
This year Paris managed to triumph for the fourth time on the prestigious track in Austria. In 2013 and 2017 he had won the two runs, in 2015 in the Super-G. Second was World Champion Beat Feuz (Switzerland/0.20), Otmar Striedinger saved Austria’s honour as third (0.37). Dominik Schwaiger (Königssee/1.58) finished good 17th.
Olympic champion Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway) did not start due to knee problems, last year’s winner Dreßen was only a spectator due to his cruciate ligament rupture. “I think the Beppi did a great job, I’m very happy for him”, said Dreßen on ZDF (german television) about his teammate Ferstl.
The Swede Alexander Köll with the high starting number 45 crashed heavily at the finish jump and initially stopped. He had to be flown out in a helicopter.
This year Kitzbühl invested a total of seven million Euros in their world-famous ski weekend. 1800 tons of snow supplied by helicopters and around 200,000 euros for a floodlight system for the slalom race are just a few examples. In the end, the spring-like temperatures forced race director Günter Hujara to cancel the first and third downhill training, to bring the slalom forward to Friday and to lead the downhill course past the local mountain.
However, the spectacle could take place. From Arnold Schwarzenegger to skiing legend Toni Sailer, everyone was watching. To put it briefly, it was more than worth it.