EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Racing and Big Mountain Competitions › The first classic downhill race of the World Cup season (?)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The first classic downhill race of the World Cup season (?)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

All of the news reports about the cancellation of today's Men's downhill race at Val Gardena keep referring to it as "the first classic downhill race of the World Cup season".   

 

What makes it a "classic"? There were already two downhills this year : Lake Louise and Beaver Creek.  Is it something technical about the course? Was it the first in the Alps this year? or just journalistic license?

 

On another note: I think the phrase was in an AP report since it showed up in every single news site - a real lack of coverage.

post #2 of 18

I think the "classic" label applies to most DH courses that were used before the advent of the FIS World Cup: Val Gardena-Gröden, Kitzbühel (Hahnenkamm), Wengen (Lauberhorn) and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Kandahar) all qualify under this definition.

 

Beaver Creek's Birds of Prey course would almost certainly qualify under the label of modern classic.

post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by songfta View Post

Kitzbühel (Hahnenkamm)



Hands down, my all time favorite year after year..

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

songfta, thanks

 

and crgildart:

 

Since I am learning-- what makes  Kitzbuhel (no umlaut on this keyboard) an "all-time favorite"?  And how are  you following it - online? TV (Universal?), travelling there each season(!?)

 

 

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbsage View Post

songfta, thanks

 

and crgildart:

 

Since I am learning-- what makes  Kitzbuhel (no umlaut on this keyboard) an "all-time favorite"?  And how are  you following it - online? TV (Universal?), travelling there each season(!?)

 

 



 

It is the one I remember watching as a young kid on ABC's Wide World of Sports. It is the only one I recall  being broadcast somewhere just about every year in the US when I was little.   Everything about it screams old school Euro Alps Steeze.  Franz Klammer won it several times including the year he got the Olympic Gold at Innsbruck.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hahnenkamm,_Kitzb%C3%BChel

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yeah -- that does bring back memories. Thanks.

 

post #7 of 18

Kitz is also featured in the old Robert Redford film Downhill Racer.

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Sadler View Post

Kitz is also featured in the old Robert Redford film Downhill Racer.


I thought it was the Lauberhorn at Wengen, but I've only seen snippets of the movie a long time ago so maybe I'm wrong (or maybe there was more than one course.... I should rent the movie).  I definitely recall them skiing through the tunnel of the Lauberhorn course, though, in the little bit I remember seeing.

 

post #9 of 18

Quote:

Originally Posted by exracer View Post

I thought it was the Lauberhorn at Wengen, but I've only seen snippets of the movie a long time ago so maybe I'm wrong (or maybe there was more than one course.... I should rent the movie).  I definitely recall them skiing through the tunnel of the Lauberhorn course, though, in the little bit I remember seeing.


They are both in the movie, me thinks.

 

Is Bormio considered a classic?  I love that race.

 

JF

 

 

post #10 of 18

OP:  Like someone said above, it implies history and tradition.  Not necessarily anything about the course relative to other ones (although older courses are often treasured for the history, and are in fact the most demanding courses), but the fact they've been challenging racers through the generations.

 

 

It is like PGA Tour golf (if you are at all familiar with that)... there are some tour stops that are "classic," such as: Colonial, Riviera, Firestone, etc. (compared to newer stops, such as many of the TPC courses). 

 

 

 

If you weren't already aware, the most famous downhill race is at Kitzbuhel in Austria, usually in mid-late January.  Within the skiing world, this is the Grand Slam race.

post #11 of 18
I think that most racers and fans would agree that the Hahnenkamm is the grand-daddy of all ski races, the one race that every downhill racer would most like to win. Winning the Hahnenkamm alone pretty much puts you on the map as a legend with full RockStar status, at least in Europe. And the Arlberg-Kandahar race dates back to the 1920's, one of, if the, first organized international races--and a very long annual tradition. These races and others surely qualify as "classics," as the term is used in many sports, from baseball stadiums to golf tournaments to marathons to the "classics" of cycling.

Yes, they are treasured for their history, but other than the Hahnenkamm, it is certainly debatable whether they are "in fact the most demanding courses," VitaminSki. Some of the "modern classics," many designed by Bernard Russi, like the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey and Aspen's notorious course have earned their reputations among the best and most challenging in the world.

Best regards,
Bob
post #12 of 18

Speaking to Darren Rhalves, he looks back on his career and puts winning the Hahnenkamm at the top of his accomplishments as a ski racer!

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

Speaking to Darren Rhalves, he looks back on his career and puts winning the Hahnenkamm at the top of his accomplishments as a ski racer
 

I would rate being a spectator at the Hahnenkamm (1981), at the top of my accomplishments as a fan wink.gif .

 

JF

 

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbsage View Post
Since I am learning-- what makes  Kitzbuhel (no umlaut on this keyboard) an "all-time favorite"?  And how are  you following it - online? TV (Universal?), travelling there each season(!?)

For beginning... approximately 50.000 people, who come just for DH race. And another 20-30.000 which come for GS, plus another 30.000+ which come for SL race... so total of about 100.000 spectators in that "weekend" (Friday-Sunday).

Another thing is, that track remained more or less unchanged since beginning... some 70 years ago. But such things don't really count anymore, since nowadays, pretty much every place on WC tour, which hosted races for more then once, calls themself classic/traditional/etc.
 

 

post #15 of 18

One thing to note about courses like the Lauberhorn and Hahnenkamm is that they wouldn't likely pass muster under modern safety guidelines. Things like the Mausefalle ("Mousetrap") in Kitz, or the Hundshopf (the jump between the rock outcroppings) or the passage under the train tracks at Wengen, would likely render these courses "beyond safety guidelines" under modern FIS rules and regulations. The same could likely be said of the women's speed courses at Cortina (the most challenging DH they run all season - at least until the new Beaver Creek course is unveiled), with its threading between rock  walls.

 

I'm not sure that Bormio would be considered as much of a classic as Kitz, Wengen or Val Gardena. But it's still up there with the big venues: Val d'Isere, Whistler and the like. One thing is for sure: like the other continental European venues, Bormio attracts HUGE crowds, lining the course from top to bottom.

 

Modern courses are on more open pistes, designed from the get-go with modern safety features considered (e.g. permanently installed A-netting and judicious tree removal), though it doesn't mean they're without challenges. Beaver Creek has some killer fall-aways and big jumps. The Grizzly course at Snowbasin (sadly disused after the 2002 Olympics) had tons of terrain that had even the Austrians grumbling at its technical challenge. Both are Bernard Russi designs - as mentioned earlier, he's the standard-bearer for designing modern speed courses.

 

 

post #16 of 18

Good post, and I think it shows that what makes the Classics, er, classics, is that they're Euro courses. As Songfta points, the Classics are Beyond Category, as they say about the hardest climbs in the Tour de France. It's ironic that, at a time when the FIS is all lathered up about fostering improved racer safety by tinkering with the GS regs, without a lot of data to prove its conclusions, the FIS still allows the Classics to proceed.  I love watching the Classics...as long as nobody gets killed or seriously injured...but they scare me silly, to whit:

 

- In the Lauberhorn, right after the aforementioned Hundschopf, the racers get to go under a cog railway via a hole in the stone wall that supports the railway. Next, there's a long schuss through what's basically a goat path where one of the Italians hit 97 mph, or something ridiculous like that, a couple of years back.   There is the length, 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and there is, of course, the final right-left sequence over what looks like a waterfall...where one of the young Austrians got killed in 1989 before somebody figured out that slide pads are a much better idea than B-netting for that kind of terrain feature.

 

- The Mausfalle is terrifying, for sure, but so is the bottom of the next big right/left around the Karosell/Steilhang, where Bode Miller skimmed the slide pads a couple of years ago...and back when it was nothing more than a fence, Brian Stemmle basically got torn in half and ended his career there.  The Hausberg, left footed traverse that follows it, and the Zeilschuss are about the scariest things I've ever seen in ski racing. And instead of get a bulldozer and shaving down the last bump, it looks like they keep making it bigger...so all the drunks in the crowd are guaranteed a good crash or two. Which is exactly what happened to Scott McCartney and Dani Albrecht, and they both ended up in a coma.  Scott's career is over, and Albrecht's might as well be. 

 

You're never going to defang DH racing, or make it as safe as shuffleboard. But my take, these days, is that you can have the classics.  I'd much rather watch any race at Beaver Creek, because I know the hill is going to be immaculately prepared, well fenced, and set to challenge, not destroy, the racers...

 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by songfta View Post

One thing to note about courses like the Lauberhorn and Hahnenkamm is that they wouldn't likely pass muster under modern safety guidelines. Things like the Mausefalle ("Mousetrap") in Kitz, or the Hundshopf (the jump between the rock outcroppings) or the passage under the train tracks at Wengen, would likely render these courses "beyond safety guidelines" under modern FIS rules and regulations. The same could likely be said of the women's speed courses at Cortina (the most challenging DH they run all season - at least until the new Beaver Creek course is unveiled), with its threading between rock  walls.

 

I'm not sure that Bormio would be considered as much of a classic as Kitz, Wengen or Val Gardena. But it's still up there with the big venues: Val d'Isere, Whistler and the like. One thing is for sure: like the other continental European venues, Bormio attracts HUGE crowds, lining the course from top to bottom.

 

Modern courses are on more open pistes, designed from the get-go with modern safety features considered (e.g. permanently installed A-netting and judicious tree removal), though it doesn't mean they're without challenges. Beaver Creek has some killer fall-aways and big jumps. The Grizzly course at Snowbasin (sadly disused after the 2002 Olympics) had tons of terrain that had even the Austrians grumbling at its technical challenge. Both are Bernard Russi designs - as mentioned earlier, he's the standard-bearer for designing modern speed courses.

 

 



 

post #17 of 18

There are three (two really) classic ski races the Alberg-Kandahar in St Anton/Murren,  the Hannenkham in Kitzbuhel and the Lauberhorn in Wengen.

The Alberg-Kandahar was first run in 1928 between the Austrian Alberg Ski Club in St. Anton and the British Kandahar Ski Club which was based in Murren Switzerland. The race alternated between those two ski clubs home mountains and later was also contested in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Chamonix and some other locations.

The Lauberhorn has been run in Wengen since 1930.

The Hannenkhamm Race (also the name of the mountain) has been run on the Streif course near Kitzbuhel since 1931.

Because the Alberg-Kandahar has moved around its venues have been modernized and conform to current FIS specifications it is a “classic race” because of its long history.

The locations of the Lauberhorn at Wengen and the Streif at Kitzbhuel are fixed and although the courses have been upgraded and changed many times over the years the start and finish lines remain more or less the same. There exist some sections on both courses that are too narrow according to modern FIS rules but cannot be changed because of the topography. These two courses have been granted an exemption for these sections so the races can continue to be run. Anybody old enough to have watched a European ski race on TV before 1966 would have probably seen either the Lauberhorn or the Hannenkhamm. Because the two courses require completely different downhill skill sets, winning Wengen and Kitzbuhel back to back is the ski racing equivalent of a perfect NFL season or 5 straight Stanley Cups. In my memory Franz Klammer won the double 3 times and Didier Defago did it once I’m sure there are a couple more but I can’t think of them now. Last weekend the Lauberhorn attracted 38,000 spectators according to the CBC commentator calling the race.

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speeder View Post
In my memory Franz Klammer won the double 3 times and Didier Defago did it once I’m sure there are a couple more but I can’t think of them now. Last weekend the Lauberhorn attracted 38,000 spectators according to the CBC commentator calling the race.


Good overview of the classics.

 

BTW, Ken Read of Canada did the Kitzbuhel/Wengen double in 1980.

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Racing and Big Mountain Competitions › The first classic downhill race of the World Cup season (?)