As Hard to Ski as it is to Spell

January 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on As Hard to Ski as it is to Spell

The Hahnenkamm race, on the infamous men’s downhill course at Kitzbuehel in Austria, is undisputedly the most frightening and dangerous race on the World Cup circuit.

It inspires well-deserved fear in every skier who even dares to consider attempting it. But it also inspires great reverence, incredible feats of athletic excellence, and even poetry – as this US Ski Team press release from earlier today shows:

It’s quiet in the Kitzbuehel start. The stark white walls wash away sound and blend into the glassy snow beyond the start wand. Ski tips slide toward the storied abyss below. The next two minutes are the most frightening and exhilarating in all of ski racing. This is the Hahnenkamm.

And for those who finish it unscathed, a great sense of accomplishment. A US Ski Team rookie, Travis Ganong, who also happens to be my friend’s little brother, had this to say after finishing his first-ever Kitzbuehel run today (a training run):

“It’s the Hahnenkamm,” he said. “It’s the toughest downhill race in the world and when I crossed the finish line, it was easily the most fun thing I’ve ever done.”

But not everyone was so fortunate today. Austrian Hans Grugger suffered a head injury during his training run today, necessitating a helicopter evacuation and emergency brain surgery. Let’s hope he has a full and quick recovery. (Training was suspended for 30 minutes, but then dozens of others had their chance to battle the course, knowing the toll it took on a fellow skier.)

The downhill at Kitzbuehel will take place this Saturday, January 22.


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