Kitz bits: Quotes, Knauss and women rocking the Hahnenkamm


Kitz bits: Quotes, Knauss and women rocking the Hahnenkamm{mosimage}First off, some quotes …

‘It’s the Super Bowl of ski racing. They hype it up well, the race organizers are on it, and it has good prize money.’
- John McBride, head downhill/super G coach, U.S. men’s team

‘There’s a lot of by-effects coming out of a victory at Kitzbuehel, because everybody remembers that, even more than a championship or Olympic Winter Games. … That’s how they created a huge name.’
- Atle Skaardal, FIS race director and 1990 Hahnenkamm winner

‘It’s a course like no other. All kinds of rumors and stories prevail before you even go there.’
- Rob Boyd, Canadian coach, third place in 1991 downhill

Hans Knauss likes the American party style
Saturday night, the Americans will party down at the Londoner pub in Kitzbuehel. It is a 30-year old tradition, started by the Canadians and Franz Klammer and adopted by the Americans (although Canadians make appearances, as do World Cup good guys such as Didier Cuche, Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Finlay Mickel).

Hans Knauss of Austria digs the tradition, even if he can’t participate. ‘I heard that the Londoner is good’ he said in a Ski Racing magazine interview before the season began. ‘That’s what I like about the Americans, they make good party after a win. … For an Austrian it’s sometimes hard to go out in Kitzbuehel.’

Knauss won the Kitzbuehel downhill in 1999. ‘If I would win again, I would also go to the Londoner’ he said.

But Knauss is done with racing, having received a two-year suspension for testing positive for traces of an anabolic steroid he said came from tainted supplements. He now commentates for ORF, the national broadcaster in Austria. On Saturday, he wore a helmet-cam and skied the Hahnenkamm right before the race commenced.

Because he’s not racing, he has threatened to show up at the Londoner. ‘The next years I have time to go out’ he said.

[Ski Racing interviewed one of the owners of the Londoner earlier this week.]

Back in the day …
The first race down what would become the Streif was on Feb. 19, 1930, the year that the cable car accessing the mountain opened. The winner of that first race, Jakob Lackner, had a time of 9 minutes, 55 seconds.

In 1935, the course was straightened, eliminating a few uphill sections, and in 1937 skiers first got to run on a track similar to the one used today. The winning time that year was 3 minutes, 53.10 seconds, set by Thaddaus Schwabl.

In the early years, there were much fewer gates on the course, and skiers would follow the corridor through the trees however they saw fit. Through the Oberhausberg section, which consisted of a cherry orchard and houses, they picked their own line in the 1950s, bringing the course record down to 2 minutes, 47.90 by 1954 (Christian Pravda set it).

In 1982, Harti Weirather was the first to complete the Streif course in less than two minutes, and in 1997 Fritz Strobl of Austria set the record which still stands today … 1:51.58

Source: The Chronicle of a Myth; 100 Years of the Kitzbuehel Ski Team

Women at Kitzbuehel
It’s a little-known fact that in the pre-World Cup days, Kitzbuehel hosted women’s Hahnenkamm races. The first was in 1933, and Rini Andretta of Austria won both the downhill (time of 7:54.2) and the slalom (time unknown) – and consequently, Andretta won the combined.

Women didn’t race at Kitzbuehel again until 1935, and this time it was Dutch skier Grazia Schimmelpennick, who swept the three races.

The best American performance in Kitzbuehel – man or woman – has to be that of Andrea Mead-Lawrence, who won the downhill, slalom and combined in 1951. Another American woman, Linda Meyers, won the slalom in 1960.

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