Crans-Montana skiers dress up

5th April 2011, by Chris Gill



Skiers in tweed, with vintage equipment turned out in Crans-Montana last Sunday to mark the resort’s centenary downhill celebrations.

We reported earlier in the season that the Swiss resort was to hold a spring event to celebrate what is claimed as the first ever Alpine downhill ski race. And last weekend it took place under warm sunshine.

So, the Roberts of Kandahar Challenge, first organised by Sir Arnold Lunn in 1911 and a mainly British contingent, was recreated.

Sixty teams of skiers set off from the top station at Plaine Morte, carefully negotiating the Violettes piste in their antique ski clobber: leather boots and wooden planks; men in tweed and ladies in wool skirts – which must have felt very strange to use.

For today’s participants using such old kit, the race was a tricky one. And on firm slopes, with far more people using them. But local reports say the winning time was 45-minutes, although a lot of the teams took part simply for the fun of it – and didn’t rush the experience.

The original challenge began after a night in a mountain hut near the glacier. It was a top to bottom race down to Montana, where the winner could claim the Kandahar Cup – an Alpine name that has become synonymous with a few modern downhill races in other resorts since.

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