Pick your adjective: legendary, extreme, iconic, terrifying. All of these and more have been used to describe the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria. Make it down in one piece, and you’ve joined an elite brotherhood of World Cup speedsters; win it, and have your name forever etched in the record books of ski racing lore.
For the American Downhillers, Kitzbuehel is much more than just a ski race. Drawing crowds that rival those found at major sporting events in the United States, the Hahnenkamm has a special energy surrounding it that can only be genuinely described through first-hand experience. As far as single races go, it is the pinnacle of ski racing achievement, in many ways even more so than the Olympic Games.
“It is a fight every time you get in that gate, mentally and physically,” says American Downhiller and 1985 World Championship bronze medalist Doug Lewis. “It has become very special; just like that goal of the American Downhillers winning the overall globe in downhill, to win Kitzbuehel again after Daron (Rahlves), that’s what we’re waiting for.”
In episode two of The American Downhiller, presented by POC, we take an intimate look at just what it takes to throw yourself down the Mausefalle, Steilhang, and Hausbergkante, and what it means to be an American at this storied venue of venues.