The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) awarded the 1966 World Ski Championships to Chile. A special situation for the Swiss Ski Association in two respects: races in August and at an altitude of over 3,000 metres above sea level were a challenge. How were the Swiss athletes to be ideally prepared for the World Cup?
First time in South America
Despite loud criticism and dissenting votes from the delegates from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the FIS awarded the 1966 World Ski Championship to Portillo in Chile in 1963, the first time a country in South America would host the competition.
Challenge for the Ski Association
The head of downhill/slalom, Francis Corbaz, and the other coaches thought about how they could best train the teams. And they found solutions for the extraordinary altitude (the men’s downhill started at 3,315 metres above sea level) and the time of year.
Training slope only accessible on foot
The teams each trained for one and a half weeks on the Corvatsch and in Zermatt. The Gornergrat Railway supported the Ski Association. From 22 June to 18 July 1966, the Triftji – Rote Nase ski lift (3,251 metres above sea level) was available for training. The athletes spent two weeks on the Gornergrat to get acclimatised. Training on the Triftji slope was hard work for the skiers and supervisors, as they had to walk from the Hohtälli to the Rote Nase and the materials (e.g. slalom poles) had to be carried by hand over the same route. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was good:
Card greetings from Chile
The Ski Association had 500 coloured postcards specially printed featuring the national team on the Hohtälli with the Matterhorn in the background. They then sent them from Portillo with the special stamp “Mundial de Ski” as a greeting to all patrons.
Switzerland without medals
The big winner of the World Cup was France with seven gold medals, Italy won the men’s slalom. Jakob Tischhauser achieved the best result for Switzerland with the thankless fourth place in the men’s giant slalom.