Moments Count Defago of Switzerland jumps over the famous Hausbergkante to win the 69th Hahnenkamm men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup Downhill race on the Streif slope in Kitzbuehe

Jun 8, 2011 by

Defago of Switzerland jumps over the famous Hausbergkante to win the 69th Hahnenkamm men's Alpine Skiing World Cup Downhill race on the Streif slope in Kitzbuehe

Nowadays, liability lawyers would never let a race like the Hahnenkamm Downhill happen. But in 1931 race organizers paid no heed to potential lawsuits when they created what would become arguably the most hair-raising downhill course on the planet. Over two miles, the run drops 2,800 vertical feet (853 vertical meters) with gradients of up to 85 percent and off-camber turns that buck even the toughest racers. Those who stay upright have been clocked speeds up to 87 miles an hour (140 kilometers an hour). Of course, qualifying is one of the hardest parts–the race now attracts the world’s top skiers–but spectating is an extreme sport unto itself. Some 85,000 Swiss and Austrian fans, waving flags, blowing horns, and ringing cowbells, crowd the course and, come evening, compete for beer in one of Austria’s most storied winter bacchanals. Return to Gallery

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