The biggest winter sporting event in Europe. The biggest ski race in the world. The European Mardi-Gras. All of the above descriptions apply to the Kitzbühel Hahnenkamm-Rennen.
The inaugural HKR was held in 1931, superceding the Austrian Ski Championships as the most important ski race in the world.
The HKR is a big deal.
However….there’s always a however.
The more I do this race, the more the HKR reminds me of Wimbledon. Wimbledon is the biggest tennis championship in the world, but it’s still basically a club tennis tournament. A very large one. A lot of useless, self-important members of the All-England Club run around their club wearing club blazers, trying to look and act important, trying to casually rub elbows with Rafael Nadal or whomever walks by. The entire event is one big anachronism.
The HKR is also one big anachronism. One guy, a fellow named Dr. Hans Reich, owns The Streif course, the ski trail upon which the race is run. The event is run by a private club (of which I am a member), the Kitzbüheler Ski Club (founded 1904).
Dr. Reisch leases the Streif ski trail, and the land upon which the KSC clubhouse is built, to the KSC. I am told that he gets paid 3 Euros for every hole drilled in the snow on the Streif. That means, for example, the 3 rows of B-net running up the hill on the one section of the hill shown in the above photo lands the good Doctor about $100,000 a year. The course is FIVE KILOMETERS LONG, and every cm of it has at least one layer of netting, held up by poles drilled into the ground. Dr. Reisch’s ground.
It’s good to be the king.