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KITZBUEHEL 2005: The scene, the records and the logistics

KITZBUEHEL 2005: The scene, the records and the logisticsKITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) – If there is no speed limit on the notorious Streif downhill course, Kitzbuehel race organizers are desperately attempting to slow the speed at which fans descending on the Austrian resort get drunk.

Known for its rowdy drunken fans, not uncommonly found staggering, vomiting or unconscious in the city’s streets, Kitzbuehel is now taking measures to prevent the “excesses of the past” by preventing the sale of drinks containing more than six percent alcohol during the race weekend.

Schnapps, long drinks and so-called alcopops are now off limits to Kitzbuehel’s quaffers. “We can do without benders this year,” said the city’s first mayor Klaus Winkler. “We want to this year prevent general drunkenness.”

Supermarkets and restaurants are also going to play the game Saturday and Sunday, Winkler said proudly. Security officials and police will be enforcing the new rule, and spectators will be searched for alcohol and other dangerous items at the entrances of the race area.

Last year, some 80,000 swarmed Kitzbuehel over three days. “The prohibition of alcohol is a significant step in order to increase the quality instead of the quantity of the audience,” said Michael Huber, head of the organizing committee.

PALANDER’S PURSUIT:
Winner of the last two World Cup slalom races on the notorious Hahnenkamm, Finland’s Kalle Palander is going for the rare hat-trick.

“I want to be the first since, perhaps you have heard of him, Ingemar Stenmark, to win three times in a row here,” said the Flying Finn, runner-up in both the slalom and giant slalom standings last season.

Stenmark was the last skier to sweep three in a row here, winning from 1981 to 1983, but clinched five victories on the Hahnenkamm throughout his career, also triumphing in 1976 and 1977. France’s Marc Andre Augert was the first to win three in a row here, from 1971-73. Other multiple slalom winners in Kitzbuehel include Marc Girardelli, who took three in 1984, 1985 and 1991.

Though still winless this season, Palander’s chances still look good, coming off a victory in a lower-tier FIS slalom race in Westendorf on Thursday, beating a world class field that included Swedes Markus Larsson and Johann Brolenius, Olympic slalom silver medalist Sebastien Amiez of France and Germany’s Alois Vogl, winner of the last World Cup slalom in Wengen.

PREPARING THE STREIF: Preparing the infamous Streif course is a challenging race of its own and only those who are offering the best skills are allowed to lend a helping hand, organizers say.

Each year a specialist crew from Bergbahn AG Kitzbuehel lift company join forces with servicemen from the Austrian armed forces to provide “the perfect race.”

From mid-November, 33-35 snow cannons begin creating an effective base cover down the mountainside. By race weekend, some 40 million liters of water will have been used to generate 90,000-100,000 square meters of man-made snow, the equivalent of 9,000 truck loads.

Specialists are continually testing the snow’s composition, seeking perfection. An initially higher amount of moisture in the snow gradually decreases in favor of a dryer blend. Humidity, granulation and crystalline structure are essential factors determining the consistency and “raceability” of the snow.

As many as five snowcats are operating simultaneously. Nowadays, even the steepest pitches like the Mausefalle (Mousetrap), Steilhung and Haubergkante are groomed by machines. Such maneuvers require anchor points, which are cemented into the ground. The snowcats hook a steel cable into the anchors and winch themselves up even the steepest slopes without the risk of sliding, and are operated by experienced personnel for nearly 500 hours.

Radar guns are being used for the first time at the 65th Hahnenkamm race this year and some 300 meters of cables were laid to enable speed measurements in the speed traps.

The speed of racers is being measured between the traverse and compression, where they reach velocities of up to 135 kilometers per hour.

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