Our favourite ski races from the World Cup circuit...
Snowkings favourite ski race is probably the best known in the world. The Hahnenkamm is the name of the mountain on which the downhill course, the Streif, is held. And it's a brute of a course. Skiers who've raced there have said that it's not a course for pretty skiing, it's just pure survival all the way down, hanging in there and hoping you can hold on to a decent line.
Best known for the enormous Zielschuss jumps at the foot of the course, it's actually some of the features higher up the course that make it so hard - the Mausefalle (mousetrap) jump kicks things off immediately, hurtling the skiers through the air just seconds into the race. Immediately following this there are a number of incredible turns and compression sections to get to grips with, areas of poor visibility and several demanding gliding sections. Just making it to the bottom can be considered a result, let alone winning the damned thing, which is why it often favours more experienced skiers who have raced on it over a number of years.
As with the other classics of the ski racing calendar, the days leading up to the race has made it a real social event too, with thousands of people visiting the town for the race (an incredible 50,000 people sometimes attend the downhill), which almost has the status of a national holiday in Austria. Nowadays the race is normally held in January, usually the weekend after the other major classic downhill, the Lauberhorn, with the downhill being held on the Saturday, sandwiched between a Super-G on the Friday and a slalom on the Sunday.