Thomas Dreßen returns to the legendary Streif, Beat Feuz says goodbye. Also this weekend, the risk is part of the most dangerous descent in the world.
The world of winter sports is witnessing one of its greatest classics this weekend: the Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbühel. For many ski racers it is the real highlight of the year when they descend the icy and oh so dangerous Streif.
Two descents on Friday (11.30 a.m. in the live ticker Sportschau) and Saturday (11.30 a.m. in the live ticker Sportschau) on the Streif and a slalom (10.30 a.m./1.30 p.m. in the live ticker Sportschau) on the Ganslernhang will be completed by the best ski racers in the world . And unlike last year, there are no more corona restrictions this time: A total of 85,000 visitors are expected.
Thomas Dreßen and Josef Ferstl look back at the first World Cup victory place
From a German point of view, the focus is particularly on the return of Thomas Dreßen. In 2018, his star as a world-class alpine skier increased with his victory in Kitzbühel. As the first German since Sepp Ferstl (1979) he won the most prestigious World Cup race, a year later Ferstl’s son Josef won the Super-G. But since then Dreßen has only been able to ride in the chic Tyrolean ski area in January 2020, in other years he has been injured.
Recently too, he only fought his way back to the World Cup after an injury. That’s why tears came to his eyes on the Lauberhorn in Wengen. “For me it’s so good that I can be here again”, he says there. Multiple surgeries and injuries have prevented more than five World Cup wins so far.
Dreßen: “I barely remember that I had so much fun”
Now, at 29, the desire is back: “I can hardly remember having so much fun”, he said after the first practice run in Kitzbühel on Tuesday, which he finished 23rd. And Dreßen’s second statement was at least as important: “The frame is holding up, I feel good.” He trusts his body, which is elementary in Kitzbühel. Incidentally, his teammate Romed Baumann finished third.
The Streif is and remains a winter World Cup classic. It impresses neither as the longest descent nor as the steepest. But it is the most dangerous of its kind, the one that most challenges all athletes. A victory for Streif is comparable to a victory at Wimbledon in tennis.
Up to 140 kilometers per hour, the 860 meters to the finish line are conquered. The Streif is 3.3 kilometers long in total – and allows jumps that can easily go up to 80 meters. Serious injuries are therefore not uncommon for drivers in Kitzbühel.
Safety on the road comes first
It therefore seems obvious that safety will again be a priority this year. There are approximately 15 kilometers of netting and fencing along the edge of the slope, including 1.7 kilometers of so-called A-nets with safety tarps. This time there are also 141 air-cushioned “airfences”. A team of 30 helpers took care of the construction.
Only when it comes to snow, the pictures are probably not quite right. The Kitzbüheler Berg is currently still green – only a white stripe descends from the starting house. But that should change before the first World Cup downhill on Friday: meteorologists have announced new precipitation.
The descent section in Kitzbühel is surrounded by green space
Linus Straßer is one of the favorites in slalom
German sprinters weren’t on top this season – unlike the strongest slalom rider, Linus Straßer. He learned to ski in Kitzbühel – and is one of the favorites on Sunday due to his recent best places.
The organizers will distribute a total of one million euros in prize money over the three days: the winners of the three races will each receive 100,000 euros, the second will receive 50,000 euros and the third will receive 25,000 euros.
Beat Feuz bids farewell to Kitzbühel
On Saturday afternoon, however, all eyes should be on a Swiss ski legend: Beat Feuz will then end his career. “Pushing your limits and taking risks have been my passions in skiing for years. My feeling has often been the key to success. Now my feelings tell me: the physical limits have been reached“, the 35-year-old wrote on his Instagram page a month ago.
Feuz made his World Cup debut 16 years ago. In downhill, where he has won 13 World Cup races so far, he has managed to win the small crystal globe in the discipline’s classification four times. He also won the gold medal at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing last year.
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