Skiing is back, and at the heart of the Bernese Oberland’s beautiful Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, Mürren is preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first slalom race held on 21 January 1922. One of many good reasons to ski Mürren this season.
The car-free village has kept its charm: original wooden chalets and shop fronts, the Allmendhubel funicular (installed 1912) travelling its age-old route, and the timeless beauty of its clifftop setting opposite the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, which never fails to dazzle. The main changes over the past 100 years are the addition of a splendid Sports Centre, a comprehensive network of ski lifts, including the cable car to the Schilthorn (2970m) and its mountain-top revolving Piz Gloria restaurant completed to play a starring role in the 1969 Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Today, skiers and 007 fans reach the top in 20 minutes instead of having to make the arduous 4-hour hike as ski pionners once did.
Mürren was the film location for much of the 1969 Bond classic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring George Lazenby and Diana Rigg and including a ski chase which set a new standard for action-filming that remains unsurpassed. The crew lived and worked in the village for 5 months and many villagers were extras in the film. The revolving Piz Gloria restaurant at the Schilthorn (2970m) was adapted for the film and retains elements of the original décor; the mountaintop cable-car station also houses Bond World, a permanent interactive exhibition dedicated to every aspect of the film. In 2015 the 007 Walk of Fame opened, connecting Piz Gloria and Bond World to a spectacular viewing platform via a path along the summit ridge.
Mürren’s ties with the British go back to the Victorian era and tour operator Henry Lunn launched it as a winter resort before the First World War. For the last two years of WW1 the village was an internment centre for injured British prisoners of war, some of whom Henry’s son Arnold introduced to the joys of skiing.
Recognised as the cradle of ski racing in the 1920s, Mürren was Arnold Lunn’s headquarters in his campaign for recognition of the new sport of Alpine ski racing which culminated with the first Alpine World Championships there in 1931. To promote racing, Lunn introduced the slalom in 1922, held the British Ski Championships in 1923, and founded the Kandahar Ski Club there in 1924. In January 1928, 17 Kandahar members inaugurated a marathon downhill - the Inferno - a descent of more than 2000 vertical metres and nearly 10 miles from the Schilthorn to Lauterbrunnen. The Inferno remains an annual fixture at Mürren, attracting 1850 amateur racers from all over the world. The 2022 edition of the Inferno takes place on Saturday 22nd January.
Lord Roberts of Kandahar presented the cup for a Lunn-organised downhill race held at Montana, Switzerland, in January 1911. The name Kandahar stuck to the race, which moved to Mürren where in January 1924 Arnold Lunn and other British enthusiasts founded the Kandahar Ski Club to promote Alpine racing. After Lunn and Hannes Schneider staged the first Arlberg-Kandahar races at St Anton in 1928, Kandahar spread as a racy skiing brand – bindings, boots and challenging ski pistes all over the world.
At 1650m, Mürren is the highest ski resort in the Bernese Oberland, with a long ski season that lasts from mid-November into May. In addition to Inferno Race Week (17-22 January 2022, with cross-country and GS races as well as the downhill), annual fixtures include the Whitestyle Open (26-27 March, freestyle) and the Telemark Only Festival (5-8 May) which brings winter to a close with an opportunity for skiers to try out and celebrate the most graceful discipline in skiing.