The most fearsome ski race in the world took place In Kitzbuhel yesterday and has caused much controversy. The most dramatic sections, which also happens to be the most dangerous were pulled on the weekend and the race started midway down the famous Streif. The outcome was that 58.16 seconds was enough to win the most famous ski race in the world there will be a famous gondola cabin named after Kjetil Jansrud – the winner of the race. Normally the winner would be taking twice as long and this, over the most precipitous sections of the course.
So why run the race over the shortened course? The Hahnenkamm Streif is the most fearsome ski race in the world and not without reason – over recent years the course has critically injured several racers. On the weekend the top of the course was fog-bound and too dangerous to run in its original form. The safety concerns were clear and the running the original course simply could not happen.
But running the shortened version of the Streif devalues the history and drama of the race. Would a cup final be decided over 1 half of play, the New York Marathon be run over 13 miles or the Paris Dhaka stop mid-way? In the past the very top Mausefalle section was removed for safety reasons since it accelerated the racers to phenomenal speeds just before the most dangerous sections of the course. But what remains of the infamous Streif when the lower half is all that is run?
The pressure from the TV companies and the corporate sponsors is clear. Also those who have traveled to witness this remarkable event need to be considered. But if all that remains of the event is a lower course procession there is a real danger that the event becomes highly devalued and the legacy of the famous Hahnenkamm Streif is damaged. A delay would have been disruptive but would have preserved the legacy of this ski epic. The 2015 Hahnenkamm was not for the purists.