Built for the World Championship, Saslong is staying on for the valley
A big celebration was organized by the people of Gardena-Gröden when the valley was awarded the 1970 Ski World Championships. “A band played and more than 1000 people were there,” remembers Max Schenk, who joined in preparing for the candidacy but did not travel to the FIS Congress in Beirut. That is where the major event was awarded to this valley in the Dolomite Alps in May 1967.
Premiere Victory in a Premiere Race – Dätwyler (1969)
Swiss downhill specialist Jean-Daniel Dätwyler celebrated his first World Cup victory in the inaugural World Cup race on the Saslong. February 14th, 1969 marks the birth of the Saslong as a World Cup downhill course. Less than two years after Gardena-Gröden was awarded the 1970 Ski World Championships and one year prior to the actual WC, the newly-built course at the foot of the Saslong Mountain received its baptism of fire. The world’s best downhill racers all met in Gardena-Gröden to master the 2,249 meter from Ciampinoi to Ruacia.
Record holder Franz Klammer
"Saslong was my first World Cup race" remembers Mr. Franz Klammer, who holds the record of 25 victories in the 42 years of the Alpine World Cup, "and it is a very special memory".
Despite the fact that I grew up in Selva, just a stone’ s throw away from "Ciaslat", I’ ve never stood on the winner’ s podium during the World Cup races on Saslong. I came close at Kitzbühel , Wengen and Garmisch but the slope that I grew up on proves to be one of the least yielding for my physical and technical attributes. Aside from my regrets about never winning a downhill (including the race at Saalbach 1991) there is another thorn in my side about never really standing out in my valley.
Berhnard Russi: Downhill World Champion remembers his 1970 victory". There were eight athletes at the start that I had never previously defeated. My only objective was to make it in the top ten", recalls the unforgettable Swiss athlete that in 1970 won the World Cup in Val Gardena. " That victory represented the most emotional moment in my sports career. I came from nowhere and was basically unknown but that victory changed everything".
The Saslong „CAMEL HUNCHES“
Every year, in December a Ski World Cup Downhill is organized in Val Gardena/Gröden. The “Saslong” downhill is one of the “classics” and renown all over. The length is 3,5 km, the vertical drop approx. 800 m and the racing time is slightly over two minutes. In 1970, the World Ski Championships were run on this course and up to this year already 38 world cup events have taken place here. The so called “Camel Hunches” are certainly the “key” to the event.
Herbert Plank: Winner on the Saslong in 1977
Herbert Plank (48) was the best Italian downhill athlete in the 70s. During his almost 10-year-long career (1972 - 1981) he won bronze at the Olympics (Innsbruck 1976) and 5 World Cup races, among which the classics Wengen, Val d’Isère, and Val Gardena. In Val Gardena Plank was the first Azzurro to win, exactly 25 years ago.