Racing in Kitzbühel


Legends of Winter

There are several Austrian ski race courses that are guaranteed to give an adrenalin surge even if you’re only a spectator

The Austrian Alps have produced countless skiing legends. But there’s a very special legend behind names like Toni Sailer, Franz Klammer and Hermann Maier: The Kitzbüheler Streif. With a gradient of up to 85% and top speeds of 150 km/h, even the most experienced skiers will feel a rush of adrenalin on the Streif. The winners of this legendary race will never be forgotten: The gondolas of the Hahnenkamm lift bear their names. Just like the athletes who have conquered it, the Streif too has undergone some impressive development since the first international Downhill Only race was held almost 90 years ago.

The name Streif is enough to raise the hairs on some athletes’ backs

Back then, the fastest skiers reached an average speed of ‘just’ 22.5 km/h. Today, the Streif boasts an impressive length of 3,312 metres. Fortunately, a number of alternative routes down the steep slopes mean that not everyone has to conquer the Streif the same way that Franz Klammer or the Herminator Hermann Maier did. The Hahnenkamm Downhill is not just a red-letter day in the diaries of ski athletes. Each year, VIPs and celebrities from all over the world come to cheer on their favourites on the ski circuit.

Austrian, Kitzbühel
Each year in mid-January in the Hahnenkamm Downhill race takes place on one of the most dangerous ski runs in the world

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator, for example, is a regular guest at this unique sporting event. The legendary Night Slalom on the Planai in Schladming in Styria enjoys similar cult status to the Streif. Up to 45,000 visitors gather to enjoy this spectacular skiing festival in the 4-mountain ski resort. If you’re up for it, you can certainly test your ability on one of Austria’s several World Cup courses in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Flachau, St. Anton am Arlberg or Hinterstoder. The skiing season kicks off each year in Sölden and if you want to set yourself an ambitious goal, then why not tackle the Olympic course on the Patscherkofel in Innsbruck.

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