The most instantly recognizable name in the world of winter tourism, the lavish Swiss resort has not only become the byword for sophistication, wealth and high chic, but a venerable venue steeped in the rich tradition of alpine sports, having held races there since 1884.
It is the home to reputably the oldest ski school in the world, the Sankt Moritz Dorf, first opened in 1929 and, of course, the venue where bobsledding was invented. The crowds also gather on the frozen shores of the lake every January to take in the spectacle of the Polo World Cup on snow.
The true aristocrat of the ski circuit and sitting regally facing the south-west at an elevation of 1,856m, the Spa mecca comes with a ready-made “champagne climate”, making it dryer and more likely to compact the snow into a perfect skiing surface.
The host of two winter Olympic Games – in 1928 and 1948, it wasn’t until 1971 that the World Cup made its bow when poor snow on the Lauberhorn scuppered the contest in Wengen.
Home racer Walter Tresch had the honour of becoming the first winner when he took the downhill event while American Tyler Palmer landed first place in the slalom the following day.
The women took to the slopes for the first time in December 1971 and Austrian star Annemarie Moser-Proell skied to victory in the downhill.
Despite hosting the FIS World Championships in 1974, a hiatus until 1980 was followed by a further break until 1999 when once again it became a World Cup venue, resplendent with new racing facilities which then welcomed back the World Championship in 2003.
Since then it has been one of the most anticipated stopovers on the women’s competition circuit and for 2008, the wide slopes of the Corviglia and Engiadina courses will host three events: the Super Combined, downhill and Super G.
There were two races in 2007: Slovenia’s Tina Maze won the downhill last year while Emily Brydon of Canada finished first in the Super G.
The downhill will come off a 2,745m start, with the Super G commencing at the 2,590-metre mark, ensuring plenty of thrills and speed on the slopes of this winter wonderland.
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