In a series like this, dedicated to my favorite ski slopes, I could not miss an article dedicated to the most famous ski slope in the world: The Streif.
When the month of January arrives, we, fans of the ski world, prepare to attend one of the highlights of the ski racing season: The International Hahnenkamm Race.
The International Hahnenkamm Race is 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 runs of the FIS Downhill 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 epitomized the perfect combination of sport and lifestyle.
The historic town center offers a variety of exclusive shopping opportunities ranging from international brands right through to local dressmakers.
The town is also home to more than 13 award-winning restaurants and a multitude of Tyrolean mountain huts and traditional inns serving traditional local cuisine.
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 meters 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 covered 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.
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.
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 run takes its name from the Streifalm, the meadow on the upper part of the course.
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), are often very icy and are therefore reserved for good and brave skiers.
The first third of the run comprises three of the key sections – the Startschuss, Mausefalle (mousetrap), and Steilhang (steep slope).
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 continues 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.
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 the summer of 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.