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My Favourite Ski Runs In Tirol I: The Streif, Kitzbühel

In a series like this, dedicated to my favorite runs in Tirol, I could not miss an article dedicated to the most famous ski slope in the world: The Streif.

The Streif. Kitzbühel. Picture: Ski Paradise

When the month of January arrives, we, fans of the ski world, prepare to attend to one of the highlights of the ski racing season: The International Hahnenkamm Races.

International Hahnenkamm Race, Kitzbühel. Picture:Kitzski. Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel

The International Hahnenkamm Races are held on the Hahnenkamm mountain (the name translates to "Rooster’s Comb"), one of the mountains surrounding the ski resort town of Kitzbühel.

The racecourse, The Streif, is considered one of the most demanding Downhill runs of the Alpine Ski World Cup Calendar.

Kitzbühel is a medieval town and a ski resort located in the Kitzbühel Alps along the river Kitzbüheler Ache, only 95 kilometers east of Innsbruck and 120 km from Munich.

Kitzbühel has always epitomised the perfect combination of sport and lifestyle. The village has developed a reputation as one of the top international destinations for the winter jetset. Kitzbühel's classy bars and pubs in the evenings are awash with ski fans and celebrities.

The Kitzbühel / Kirchberg ski area, or Kitzski, nestles between the Kitzbüheler Horn and the Hahnenkamm, and also the Pengelstein and Resterhöhe, between 800 and 2000 metres altitude. From the legendary 'Streif' ski run, to pistes ideal for beginners, the ski area around Kitzbühel has 57 cable cars and lifts giving access to 234 km of pistes, including 119 cover by a modern snow-making system, and 36 km of ski routes. As well as variety-packed pistes, countless 'gmiatliche' (= cozy) ski lodges right at the ski runs tempt you in for some refreshments.

Restaurant Hochkitzbühel. Picture: Ski Paradise

To reach the start of The Streif you must take the Hahnenkammbahn, a 6 passenger Gondola lift built in 1996. In approximately 8 minutes you move from the Base station (782 m.) to the Top station located at 1660 meters a.s.l.

Each of the gondolas is named after the winners of the Hahnenkamm Races.

On the 28th of June 2014 Hahnenkamm Downhill winner Hannes Reichelt attended the presentation of the gondola named in his honor.
Hahnenkammbahn. 2014 Hahnenkamm Downhill winner Hannes Reichelt

The Streif ski run is incomparable and has all the elements of a classic Downhill race track: steep edges which result in breathtaking high-speed jumps, steep slopes, schuss sections, curves, gliding sections, spectacular bumps and much, much more.

The world-famous ski slope takes its name from the Streifalm, the meadow on the upper part of the course.

Source: Kitzski. Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel

The key sections, such as the Mausefalle (mousetrap), Steilhang (steep slope) and Hausbergkante (local mountain edge), are classified as “extremely difficult ski runs” (Ski route 21 Streif-Rennstrecke), and normally very icy and are therefore reserved for good and brave skiers.

View from the start of the Hahnenkamm Downhill. Picture: David Gerner

The first third of the run comprises three of the key sections – the Startschuss, Mausefalle (mousetrap) and Steilhang (steep slope).

The Startschuss. Picture: Ski Paradise
Mausefalle. Picture: Ski Paradise
At 85% the Mausefalle is the steepest section of The Streif. Picture Ski Paradise

The run then enters the varied and more easy middle stretch – with the Brueckenschuss, Gschoess, Alte Schneise, Seidlalm, Laerchenschuss and Oberhausberg sections.

The final part begins at the Hausbergkante (local mountain edge) to continue along the Hausberg, before the Zielschuss (finishing straight) and the Zielsprung (final jump) sections. The finish line is located at the end of the run, on the Rasmusleitn.

Finish area of the Streif at the 2011 Hahnenkamm race, Kitzbühel. Picture: Michael Fleischhacker

If you don't feel confident or your ski level is not enough to face The Streif, don't worry. The Familienstreif family run is a special highlight for skiers. The most difficult sections of the racecourse are simply missed out, transforming the Streif into an enjoyable slope.

And remember, that key sections of The Streif are closed from around 6 January to allow for the week-long preparation works to take place.

To avoid further closures, in summer 2010, alterations were made to the Streif to widen the areas between the Steilhang (steep slope) and Seidlalm (“Gschöss”). This means that skiers can access this area while the race track is being prepared in January and during the week of the race itself.

Ski Paradise
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