Do you ever wish you could ski as fast as you like, without having to worry about other skiers on the piste?
Well, on the afternoon of April 22, 2017, you have your chance! This is the day of the ‘Der Wiesse Rausch’ – the ‘White Thrill’ Austria ski race in St Anton.
This cult downhill race takes place towards the end of the season every year and gives participants the chance to push themselves to their limits. The course covers 9km with 1350m of vertical descent.
This video tells the story well – even if you can’t speak German you can see how much the competitors put into this annual race.
Even if you’re not taking part it’s impossible not to enjoy the atmosphere in St Anton on race day. Many competitors take part in fancy dress, but even those in full cat suits look nervous as the clock ticks and the start time draws near.
The race itself starts at 5pm, when over 500 skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers gather at Valluga for a mass start. Entry is open to anyone, but do bear in mind that this is a challenging race and only suitable for experienced skiers.
We spoke to Andy Butterworth, resident of St Anton and founder of Kaluma Travel “I did it once and I would never do it again! You can do it as a ‘tourist’, but the trouble is my competitive spirit – I want to put on a good show, and it’s when you start taking it seriously that it can be dangerous!”
If you do want to take it seriously and strive for a good time, it’s important to find yourself a prime location for the mass start. However, you might prefer to take it easy from the start – this is no ordinary race. As well as taking on fast, straight descents, you’ll need to navigate mogul fields and even take your skis off to walk uphill on some sections, such as the infamous ‘Pain Mountain’ a 150m vertical ascent – ouch. You can view the full race route here.
The length of the course varies from year to year depending on the snow cover and most competitors are simply happy to finish, typically taking anything between ten and twenty minutes to do so.
In case you were wondering – the time to beat for the course record is 8 minutes and 14 seconds set in 2011 by Paul Schwarzacher.