Sunday , June 20 2021

Why downhill the Kitzbuhel Hahnenkamm is the bravest skiing competition

Below, the hard, ice-covered path, colored in blue by the mark on the course, is immersed. In the distance, on a clear day, the Kitzbuheler horn pierces the Austrian sky. In the valley are the ancient towers and roofs of the historic Kitzbuehel.

But these helmet athletes can only concentrate on the first few steps of the manipulating course – a sharp right and left turn, and then the lips of the scandalous rock of Mafsale, dropping a 60-meter elevator. When they break out of the gate they will fire from 0 to 60 km / h in about three seconds.

Kitzbühel's descent, climbing a curved wooden strip of torn ice, known as Streif from the Hahnenkamm peak above the city, is the harshest.

Classic Lauberhorn's descent to Wengen can be longer and has a higher maximum speed, but for the actual rock-n-roll competitions with a pedal to the Kitzbühel metal it is this.

"It's skiing at the best, riding the edge, the best test for a skier," said Ken Ked, Canadian champion of 1980, told CNN, looking back at the course, remembering the days of his glory. "The Strip is undoubtedly the most challenging dive in the world."

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Suppress fear

Starting from Mausphere, competitors are fully engaged and descend quickly to Carousel, a narrow right handler where 3G forces are generated on the body. There was Steilhang, a slippery, uneven, steep wall, followed by a narrow right exit with two rows of protective nets that lured those who redeemed it.

American Bode Miller did once, but climbed the net on two skis and fled. The features come quickly, with the names dripping with a legend built over the years as the Kitzbühler Ski Club (KSC) organized the first race in 1931.

Only once when you are in a relaxed position on the sliding Bruckenschuss, you can take a short supply.

"You have 35 seconds of the most intense ski racing you can imagine," adds Read. "No other descent has such a long, intense period with one thing after another. You do not have time to think, you just do it.

Austrian Grand Franz Klammer, who won the race four times, likened him to "a jump in cold water without knowing how to swim."

The ability to suppress fear and bury bad thoughts is key in Kitzbuehel. Some accept the challenge and attack it, others are overwhelmed with it.

"The first time I stopped twice before Mausefalf," said double-time champion Dominique Paris, said at the alpine end of CNN.

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Courage for glory

Read, who was one of the pioneering Canadian racers known as the Crazy Canucks, faced fear in Kitzbühel and scored three-thirds to win his win.

"For me, fear has never been a factor," adds Reed, who won the weekend in Wengen after Hannenkam's hero. – Nervousness, yes, because you are moving to the border and this is competition and you want to get extraordinary work.

His face shone. "It was the most exciting thing for me to imagine. For a young downhill it was like being put on a candy store.

Klammer, the Olympic champion of 1976, says that the defining features of a large runner are "courage" and a desire to "take risks."

"Downhill is freedom," he told CNN. "This is the special part, so you have to be ready, although it's very risky and you do it."

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But Klammer insists it's not just a brute bracelet. Streif has a number of sliding sections in which the aerodynamic position, the feeling of skiing and the speed is a "big part" of success, he says.

The average point of the pitch is the falling jump over x. Seidlalm, but the journey below to Larchenschuss offers only a short break before the racers think of the dangers of Hausberg's jump.

"The fatigue factor is starting to appear, but not as physically as psychologically because you've been so focused on him and so focused," says Read, who, like all the winners, bears his name on one of the cabins of the Hahnenkamm cabin.

The red room

Taking air from Hausbergkante, competitors must land and quickly absorb compression before standing firm on the right ski to make a left turn.

But Hausberg has caught some of the biggest names in skiing over the years. In 2016, Axel Lund Swindal and Hannes Reichelt suffered impressive catastrophes and found themselves in the "red room," as they call protective grids. For Swindal, the current Olympic champion, the season was over.

"Arriving over Hausberg, all hell is falling apart," adds Read. – You are dropping, accelerating, passing through a compression turn and the next turn where you have to be in line to cross the crossbar and get to the finish.

Norway Axel Lund Svindal collapses in Kitzbuehel in 2016.
Swiss athlete Didier Kush is a five-time champion in Kitzbuehel.

After the bouncing, rattling, ice trail that tries to pull you down and out of the line, there is a final sting in the Zielsprung queue, a vicious, high-speed jump in the final.

It was almost worth the life of Swiss athlete Daniel Albrecht when he landed on his back and plunged to his front in 2009. He was put in a coma but recovered to race again in December 2010.

Francis Adrienne Theo flies at the last jump at Hannenham's famous course.

Those who are still on their feet are surrounded by the final area with a pulsating table of applause, pumping strokes, color and flag waving from tens of thousands of zealous fans for whom the legendary race is an annual event in the social calendar or in a loving pilgrimage . The party is in full swing.

"When you cross the finish line and you are lucky to be the first and hear the reaction of some 40,000 people, screaming and shouting, this is the best moment in sport," says Read, today a regular visitor who always receives a warm welcome.

"If you are an Austrian, you are God.

For Paris, the victory in Kitzbuehel is "the greatest day in my life".

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