Wengen's classic downhill: Skiing's oldest, longest, fastest race

Published 1055 GMT (1855 HKT) January 17, 2019
 Wengen downhill skiing World Cup 5 Wengen downhill skiing World Cup 5
1 of 17
The Lauberhorn downhill race in Wengen, Switzerland marks the start of World Cup skiing's Classic season. Alain Grosclaude/Getty Images
The longest running race on the calendar takes place against the backdrop of the Eiger and its infamous north face (in shadow), scene of many feats of mountaineering heroism and tragedy. OLIVIER MORIN/Getty Images
The downhill is the longest on the circuit at about 2.85 miles and takes about two-and-a-half minutes from the start hut on the Lauberhorn mountain back into Wengen. OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images
The course plunges back to Wengen against the backdrop of the Eiger and the mighty Monch and Jungfrau mountains in the Bernese Oberland. Alain Grosclaude/Getty Images
The race was first held in 1930 and regularly attracts about 35,000 fans to the spectacular venue. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Along with skiing's blue riband Kitzbuhel downhill the following week, Wengen is one title all racers want on their resume. Alexis Boichard/Getty Images
Wengen is the fastest course on the World Cup circuit with speeds of up to nearly 100 miles per hour. It is also about 30 seconds longer than the tough Kitzbuhel track. PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Racers travel up the mountain on a rack railway from Wengen. One-way tickets are all they need. Alain Grosclaude/Getty Images
Car-free Wengen is a mix of timber-clad chalets and 19th century hotels perched on a shelf above the Lauterbrunnen valley. THOMAS COEX/Getty Images
Fighter jets from the Swiss Air Force (the "Patrouille Suisse") traditionally fly display flights during the Lauberhorn race weekend. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
The mountain railway from Wengen trundles up to the small hamlet of Kleine Scheidegg in the shadow of the Eiger's north wall, from where racers disembark to get a chairlift to the Lauberhorn start. RUBEN SPRICH/AFP/Getty Images
Another cog railway travels up through the heart of the Eiger to the Jungfraujoch and its observatory at the head of the vast Aletsch glacier. The summit of the Jungfrau at 4,158 meters (13,641 feet) is in the distance. AFP/Getty Images
Wengen is a lengthy mix of tight corners, fast straights, technical turns and big jumps with famous features such as the Hundschopf, Canadian Corner, Minschkante, Kernen-S, Austrian Hole and Haneggschuss. LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images
The huge Hundschopf jump features a blind take off through a gap between rocks and a safety net. OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images
France's Johan Clarey set the fastest speed ever recorded on the World Cup of 161.9 kph (100mph) when conditions were slick in 2013. Alexis Boichard/Getty Images
Even two-time champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland feels the physical effects of the legendary Lauberhorn at the finish. Alain Grosclaude/Getty Images
A downhill win at Wengen is a coveted crown among ski racers. Italy's Christof Innerhofer took the honors in 2013. Vianney Thibaut/Getty Images