The International Hahnenkamm Race is one of the highlights of the ski racing and this season this legendary race will be celebrating its 80th anniversary.
For three days Kitzbühel is awash with fans, celebrities and sports stars. An outstanding festival atmosphere surrounds the venue, with the spotlight swinging to Kitzbühel’s bars and pubs in the evenings, featuring a variety of side events and parties—and attended by a huge number of celebrities.
And the climax of the Hahnenkamm races weekend is what is considered to be the world’s most challenging downhill ski race: the Streif. Over the past nearly 80 years, this course has been putting skiers to the ultimate test and pushing them to their limits, with only the best in the world able to succeed and claim victory. Millions of spectators in front of television screens all over the globe, from Asia to Europe and right across to America, and up to 100,000 fans at the event venue will witness the event live and watch how legends are born. For skiers, a triumph in the downhill race in Kitzbühel is like winning an Olympic gold medal.
"I would like to congratulate everybody who’s made it down this run. I think we’re all mad!", were the words of the five-time champion Didier Cuche from Switzerland, and perfectly sum up the feeling of conquering the Streif.
The race is held on the Hahnenkamm mountain (the name translates to "Rooster’s Comb"), one of the mountains surrounding the ski resort town of Kitzbühel.
The Hahnenkamm racecourse, is considered one of the most demanding runs of the FIS downhill calendar: the Streif (or the "Stripe").
Hot on the heels of the Lauberhorn Races in Wengen, Switzerland – another of the great alpine ski classics and the oldest one-, the race first took place on today’s Streif course since 1937. Austrian, Thaddäus Schwabl, won the inaugural event in a time of 3:53.1 minutes. The reigning course record was set in 1997 by Fritz Strobl, who crossed the finishing line in an impressive 1:51.58 minutes Over 40 TV stations cover the race and it is a priceless event that captivates even those who do not usually follow ski racing. Only the best win on the hardest Downhill in the world. The names of past winners read like a who’s who of ski racing, from Killy, Sailer, Schranz, and Collombin, to Klammer, Read, Zurbriggen, Heinzer, Aamodt, Strobl, Maier, Eberharter, Walchhofer, Rahlves and Cuche. From the breathtaking start at 1665 meters above sea level, racers plunge down the slope’s vertical drop of 860 m at speeds up to 140 km/h, covering the 3312 meters of the course in less than two minutes before dramatically crossing the finish line in the spectator-packed finish area. Yet the Hahnenkamm-Races are more than simple statistics, and behind these numbers lies the greatest ski spectacle in the world.
The Downhill on Kitzbühel’s almost impossibly difficult slope, the Streif, leaves one continually searching for superlatives that could adequately portray it.
The simplest way to describe this drop down the most fearsome slope on the World Cup tour is simply: "The Race". What Wimbledon is for Tennis and Monaco is for Formula 1, "Kitz" is for ski racing.