Skirennen Zermatt 1932 Start

A ski race without fresh snow

Story 32

In 1932, the Ski Club Zermatt organised the 26th Swiss ski race, even though there was very little snow that winter. However, the people of Zermatt were not going to be beaten and helped “organise” the snow so that, despite great scepticism, Zermatt ended up with a very successful event.  

Considerable criticism 

The organisers of the 26th Swiss ski race faced a major challenge: the winter of 1931/32 had less snow than Zermatt had seen in a long time. In fact, they only had snow at the beginning of December when 10 to 30 centimetres of fresh snow fell in the mountains. So snow cover in Zermatt was sparse and the rest of Switzerland was sceptical.  

In his book 75 Jahre Skiclub Zermatt (75 years of Ski Club Zermatt), author Paul Lehner sums up the mood as follows: it was arrogant of Zermatt to “apply for the Swiss ski race, especially since not only were they novices among the winter sports resorts, but they hadn’t even had a real winter season.”  

The people of Zermatt believed in their race 

But the people of Zermatt were supportive of the organisation. They were so enthusiastic about the idea of the first ski race in Zermatt that private individuals made countless “Tschiffren” (back baskets), filled them with snow and took them to the slopes. In fact, the people were so determined to have the race, that, with their willpower, the race track was completed in good time. 

Skiing to the start? 

The skier Otto Furrer had also been preparing. According to the original programme of the organisation, special trains of the Gornergrat Railway were to transport participants up to the Riffelalp. From there, the racers would have to ski to reach the starting place – Blauherd. The hiking time in summer is around two hours. Furrer had trained for this. Furrer was also relieved when he heard that the organisers had moved the downhill race to Riffelboden at short notice. But the hard training he had done in advance paid off. Otto Furrer mastered the difficult downhill race from Riffelboden to the valley plain with flying colours and took home gold.  

Great success for Zermatt 

The organisers chalked it up as a success, despite these adverse circumstances. Even the sceptics had to admit to that after the race.

The greatest and also lasting victory, however, was that of the Zermatt winter sports place. It certainly showed its maturity and grew up into an adult winter resort. The press, but also the skiers, gave it very good marks.
Writes author Paul Lehner in his chronicle

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