In future, the speed athletes will start the World Cup season at the foot of the Matterhorn. A corresponding transnational project of the Italian winter sports association FISI and Swiss-Ski as well as the tourism destinations Zermatt and Cervinia is taking shape. The first World Cup Speed Opening could take place in Zermatt / Cervinia as early as autumn 2023.
Ski World Cup on the Matterhorn
The idea of holding World Cup races at the foot of the world-famous Matterhorn is nothing new. The new 3S cableway from Testa Grigia to the Klein Matterhorn, which is currently under construction, will only make this possible from 2022. Now the project is actually picking up speed; Various meetings have already been held between representatives of FISI and Swiss-Ski as well as the mountain railways and tourism organizations. This spring, Bernhard Russi and the two FIS race directors took place in the Matterhorn region under the direction of the slope builder and downhill Olympic champion in 2010, Didier Défago, who designed the routes.
Innovative and unique
The races on the Matterhorn would be the first cross-border races in the history of the World Cup - with start and finish in different countries. The start of the men's downhill is on Gobba di Rollin (3,899 m above sea level) in Switzerland, the finish on Laghi Cime Bianche (2,814 m above sea level) in Italy. The descent would be the highest in the world. The ski area on the Theodul Glacier is the only one that still offers year-round skiing today.
In addition to the two associations FISI and Swiss-Ski, the Bergbahnen Cervinia and Zermatt Bergbahnen AG, the tourism and ski destinations Cervinia and Zermatt, the autonomous region of Valle d'Aosta and the Canton of Valais and the municipalities of Valtournenche / Cervinia in northern Italy and Zermatt. They are all highly motivated to do their part so that this visionary idea can become a reality. The plan is to work with representatives of these stakeholder groups to create a modern structure for organizing this possible new event within the framework of the Alpine Ski World Cup.
In addition to existing venues
The plans of the project managers under the leadership of FISI and Swiss-Ski provide that speed races for women and men at the foot of the Matterhorn should take place on two weekends at the end of October / beginning of November - test races in 2022 and, in the best possible case, speed -Races for the first time in 2023. So far, no World Cup races have taken place between mid-October (World Cup opener in Sölden) and mid-November, so there would be no competition at an existing venue.
FISI President Flavio Roda explains: “This is not primarily a project by two countries, but an opportunity for the entire ski world. Finally, it offers the great opportunity to hold an international World Cup speed opening in the future. Italian winter sports will do everything in their power to do their part. "
“The races on the Matterhorn bring numerous advantages for skiing. On the one hand, the gap between the World Cup start in Sölden and the first speed races could be shortened; on the other hand, the speed athletes from all over the world would have the best training opportunities in the heart of the Alps in advance, ”adds Urs Lehmann, President from Swiss-Ski.
Councilors Luigi Bertschy and Jean-Pierre Guichardaz of the autonomous region of Vallée d'Aosta say: «We are very pleased that we are working on this cross-border project, which we have been working on over the past few months, together with FISI, Swiss-Ski, Cervinia and Zermatt can realize. Carrying out the World Cup on the Plateau Rosa is a challenge that appeals to us very much. It offers a great opportunity for cooperation with Switzerland and the two ski associations. We can also present our region to a broad audience. In the next few weeks we will continue our work and determine the details of the event and our involvement in the organizing committee. "
“The two tourist destinations Zermatt and Cervinia have been running a common ski area for many years. This project brings us even closer together: A sports event like this is something unique and fantastic for Switzerland as it is for Italy. The close cross-border cooperation shows the additional opportunities in the Matterhorn region for both sides », says Herbert Tovagliari, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cervino SpA.
Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG, emphasizes the planned organizational structure and guaranteed snow in the region: “There is no other place where speed races can be held as early in a World Cup season as in the Matterhorn glacier region on the border between Italy and the Switzerland. In addition, the infrastructure required for this already largely exists, making the event exemplary in terms of sustainability. The cooperation with the two national associations is very constructive. The planned organizational structure is just as innovative and visionary as the entire project. "
FISI and Swiss-Ski are confident that Speed World Cup races for women and men in the Matterhorn region will be included in the FIS long-term calendar as soon as possible.