The Streif – a two-minute ride through the ice hell

Legend quits, DSV star hopes
The Streif – a two-minute ride through the ice hell

The ski racers gathered in Kitzbühel, for many the ride on the Streif is the real highlight of the season. A victory there is a prestigious achievement for eternity – much like a triumph for tennis players at Wimbledon. For a legend, this is the end point.

The most powerful, brutal and legendary descent in the world invites you to a duel again. This Friday at 11:30 a.m., 58 daredevil speed pilots will venture down the slope that has written so many stories, great heroes, great worries for the brave protagonists. The Streif is the thinnest line between spectacle and horror that the Alpine Circus has to offer. Between the maximum tension in the starting house and the maximum relief at the finish almost two minutes ago, a good three kilometers, bare ice, the mousetrap, the carousel, the steep slope, the Hausberg Kante, the crossing , shooting on target – hell sections, slopes up to 80%, jumps over 60, 70 meters in what looks like nothing. Below is a scene between ecstasy and fear.

In order to avoid crashes with serious consequences – there have been at least 20 in the last 30 years – the Streif will again become a high safety wing. There are about 15 kilometers of nets and fences hanging from 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. But no matter how safe the Streif is, there will always be falls. Also heavy. They are part of the story, they also justify the myth of this breed. Two years ago, for example, the Swiss Urs Kryenbühel was hit. On the finish jump, he lost control and hit his head on the icy slope. He broke his collarbone and tore the cruciate and medial ligaments in his right knee.

“I could have died”

We remember the dangerous starts as well as the great victories. “The fall”, Daniel Albrecht once said, “was actually a very small mistake. I could have died.” In 2009, the Swiss got caught. Contusion of the lungs, severe cranio-cerebral trauma, coma for almost four weeks. He survived. Two years later, he competed again in World Cup races. He is no longer successful, but happy: “I attach great importance to my return to the World Cup after my accident and the most important thing: I can stop in good health!

Albrecht’s story is not a spectacular isolated case. It repeats itself over and over again. Not always with the same intensity. But some make it worse. Just like Hans Grugger. In 2011, the Austrian lost his balance during mousetrap training. He hits his back and head violently. Danger of death, coma, end of career.

After two years of the corona pandemic, the show returns in top form to the sophisticated ski resort, where the great legends of sport and show business meet year after year. The undisputed king of sizes is Arnold Schwarzenegger. A terminator as a lucky charm for the ride through ice hell – as is fitting. In 2021 no spectators were allowed on the tracks, last year only 1000 were allowed per race. This time it will be full again in the finish area. A maximum of 25,000 tickets will be sold per race, but numerous VIPs and honored guests should ensure a good atmosphere.

One of the best is to break up

And that they forget the great climatic concerns of recent weeks. A frightening lack of snow has not only hit ski resorts in the Alps massively, but has also reminded the world how urgently the fight against climate change must be waged. It was also a big topic in the alpine scene. Athletes are not only worried about their health on the slopes, but also about their livelihood. “Extreme weather conditions are becoming more and more common, which also affects the slope conditions,” complained superstar Aleksander Aamodt Kilde recently. Either race was done “willingly or unwillingly”, “so that the safety of the pilots was endangered”. By the way, Kilde does not let himself go in Kitzbühel. The Norwegian dominating winter speed starts despite a small fracture in the hand.

Now the snow is here and covers all worries like a cozy coat. Full focus on the show. Focus on the stories this race writes ahead of time. Two in particular stand out. Farewell to the legendary Swiss flash ball Beat Feuz and the return of DSV star Thomas Dreßen. “In my opinion, one of the best alpine skiers of all time leaves the scene with the Beat”, points out the top German pilot, who surprisingly won the race in 2018 and then had a lot of problems with it, at the both health and mental. .

“Beat was and still is an extreme role model for me.” It was “fascinating” to see how strong Feuz was after his injury. “The level of consistency he had is brutal,” Dreßen said of the Swiss, who has won three medals at the Olympics and the Alpine World Championships, 16 World Cup races so far and four times the small crystal globe of the best winter alpine skier won. Feuz has triumphed three times so far over the legendary Streif in Kitzbühel.

Dreßen is having an amazing time

For Dreßen himself, returning to the Streif is like seeing his first love again. In any case, his heart raced as soon as he descended the scary Streif in Kitzbühel on Tuesday – not to the limit, it was only the first practice, but: terribly irrelevant. “I barely remember,” said Germany’s most successful alpine skier, who also suffered a lot in recent years, “that I had so much fun.” It’s been five years since Dreßen celebrated the first World Cup victory of his career almost out of nowhere on the difficult “Streif” – it was an awakening experience.

Other successes followed, combined with the legitimate hope of a fine career in the supreme alpine discipline. But things turned out differently. Serious injuries, operations – these days Dreßen is happy and relieved to be able to say: “The frame is holding up, I feel good.” Kitzbühel is not just any place in the World Cup – not at all for Dreßen. Since his victory, he only raced on the Streif in January 2020, in the middle of his first season, the results were modest at the time: he was 17th and 26th. Due to his abilities, Dreßen has fundamentally different demands – but he also knows that he has to be content with being able to run again.

On Friday, he will start with number two. The race will be opened by American Travis Ganong. What their time will be worth will only be decided later. World Cup leader Marco Odermatt descends on the slopes with a seven, but he is not the heavy favorite in the downhill. He will really bump between numbers 13, Austrian hopeful Vincent Kriechmayr, 14, Kilde and 15, Feuz. The most powerful, brutal and legendary descent in the world invites you to a duel again.

#Streif #twominute #ride #ice #hell

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