For most skiers and snowboarders, fun on the slopes comes first, while athletic performance is secondary. But of course, competing with other amateurs also has a certain appeal for amateur athletes. In many renowned winter sports resorts in the Alps, it is possible to take part in so-called Volksskirennen. Here, amateurs and beginners can get a taste of competition. One thing is certain: fun is the most important thing at Volksski races, in keeping with the motto: being there is everything. SnowTrex presents the best-known amateur ski races for everyone in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Skis strapped on and ski goggles on? All right, then let’s get started: 3 – 2 – 1 – GO!
The White Ring (Lech am Arlberg, Austria)
The White Ring is a folk ski race of superlatives. It is the longest ski race in the world and is also considered one of the most demanding. A total of 5,500 metres in altitude are covered on skis over a total distance of 22 km. It is possible to take a short breath during the six lift rides, but you should still be in good physical shape and have a decent level of fitness. The route connects the villages of Lech, Zürs, Zug and Oberlech and has now been in existence for over 60 years. While the route was still conquered on conventional wooden skis back then, today the racers are equipped with modern equipment. However, the fun and the challenge have not been lost over the years. Winter sports enthusiasts who take part in the race according to the motto “Being there is everything” can look forward to two viewing platforms that invite them to pause for a moment and enjoy the picturesque views. Of course, the White Ring is not only to be skied as part of the race and winter sports enthusiasts spending their skiing holidays in the region are advised to explore the legendary route.
Allalin Race (Saas-Fee, Switzerland)
The Allalin Race is an event with a long tradition, which has now been held almost 40 times in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. in 1946, 12 brave skiers started the legendary downhill run for the first time, but only five reached the finish. Nowadays, of course, the slope is well prepared for the race, so participants need have no fear. Nevertheless, the slopes should not be underestimated, because professionals and amateurs are definitely demanded a lot. The start is at the foot of the Allalin Horn at an altitude of no less than 3,500 metres. The finish of the glacier descent is in Saas-Fee. The 1,800 metres in altitude are covered over a total distance of 8.5 km. Steep slopes alternate with short gliding passages and demand absolute control over the ski or board. The bravest racers sometimes reach speeds of more than 140 km/h. Of course, these speeds are not a value to which less experienced winter sports enthusiasts should orientate themselves. Those who want to ski more leisurely will not come first, but they will have the opportunity to fully enjoy the breathtaking mountain panorama. Moreover, the same applies to this popular ski race: Being there is everything and the main thing is not to miss out on the fun.
Rope race (Hochfügen, Austria)
High above the Zillertal in Hochfügen, the winter has been bidding farewell to tradition and family for more than 50 years. The Hochfügen Rope Race enjoys legendary status and is a very special kind of competition in which the concept of “togetherness” plays a leading role. Professionals, young athletes and ambitious amateur skiers take to the starting line and race down the race course together. The special feature of this event is that the three winter athletes in a team are connected by a rope. While professionals compete in classic racing suits, teams can also be seen demonstrating their technique in dirndls, hunters’ outfits or other disguises. Since 2019, the rope race has been held on the Lamark slope in Hochfügen so that spectators can enjoy a good view of the racers. In addition, from now on ski cross elements will also be part of the course, which will bring spectacular and sometimes certainly also funny jumps. Young athletes of children’s and youth age will also have the opportunity to register and take the challenge cup in their age group. The event at the end of the season will be complemented by a varied programme off the slopes. Visitors can look forward to parties, concerts, the traditional winter burn and the Alpine market.
Hexenabfahrt (Belalp-Blatten, Switzerland)
The Hexenabfahrt is probably the most bizarre popular race in Switzerland. A long time ago, a witch is said to have wreaked havoc on the Belalp. In memory of her victims, the Witches’ Downhill has been contested by amateurs and professionals for more than 30 years. Some racers dress up as witches and race, almost fly, down the valley. The course is sometimes quite steep, so that the fastest participants can reach speeds of over 110 km/h. The start is at an altitude of 3,100 metres, the finish at 1,300 metres. On the 12 km long descent, the racers will be challenged in terms of their physical condition, but since fun is definitely in the foreground at this event, the witches can also take their time with a clear conscience and indulge in Valais specialities and Valais wine at the culinary stations along the route. As the number of participants is limited to 1,000, it is advisable to register early. The advantage is that there will definitely be enough time to create a scary and beautiful costume.
Pitztal WildFace (Pitztal, Austria)
The Pitztal WildFace is not a race of the classic kind. The riders ski the downhill run individually and push themselves to the limit in order to achieve the best possible time. However, the race does not take place on perfectly groomed slopes downhill, but through the rough terrain on the Mittagskogel, off the slopes of the Rifflsee ski area. The event has been taking place since 2014 as part of the Freeride World Tour and is a Freeride World Qualifier event. This means that participants can collect points through their times, with which they can at best secure a starting place for the main competition of the Freeride World Tour. “Anyone who can master the mountain on skis or a snowboard is eligible to take part,” the conditions of participation state. Participants should be aware, however, that ski racing in the backcountry is fundamentally different from one on the slopes. For one thing, the pristine slopes of the Pitztal require a lot of experience and a good technique. On the other hand, you need a really good physical condition and plenty of muscle in your legs. Winter sports enthusiasts who have already been off-piste know how quickly the thighs start to burn. But those who dare to conquer the adrenaline downhill will certainly remember this fabulous descent for the rest of their lives.
White Rush (Arlberg, Austria)
Every year at the end of the season, 500 skiers and snowboarders gather in St. Anton am Arlberg to simultaneously plunge into the valley from the highest point of the Arlberg ski area after the starting gun. From the Valluga down to St. Anton, the best skiers need less than eight minutes, most don’t make it under ten. And the fun riders take half an hour to complete the 9-kilometre course (1,350 metres in altitude). This top event also attracts a roaring party for the spectators.
Inferno Race (Mürren, Switzerland)
The Inferno Race, first held in 1928 by “ski-mad” Englishmen, is now considered one of the biggest and most difficult amateur races in world skiing. The number of participants is limited to 1,800 and every year at least as many people who want to start have to be turned away. The varied, special topography is what makes this 15.8 km long course in Mürren so appealing. Good skiers need about 45 minutes for the descent, the race winners less than 15 minutes.
Gardenissima (Val Gardena, Italy)
The Gardenissima in the Seceda ski area on the sunny side of Val Gardena is the longest giant slalom in the world. Good physical condition is required for the six-kilometre course. The skiing time is at least 3’40” to just over four minutes. there are 88 gates on the course, which overcomes 1,000 metres in altitude. Among the participants are always quite a few stars of the Alpine Ski World Cup. The number of participants is limited to 600.
Epic Ski Tour (Trentino, Italy)
Since 2017, the three-part ski touring race “Epic Skitour” has been held in the Italian Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa. All ski tourers, from amateurs to professionals, meet in the heart of the dreamlike Dolomite peaks. Anyone who is of age and can present a sports doctor’s certificate of fitness may register online. There are 3 stages to victory. It starts with a small night race on the Alpe Cermis above Cavalese. Here, the race course leads half on the slope and then up through open terrain. Here, a difference in altitude of 750 m has to be overcome. On the second day, the climb up San Pellegrino near Moena is on the agenda. The famous pass in the Val di Fassa reaches an altitude of 1,919 metres. The distance to be covered has a difference in altitude of 795 m. The last stage on the third day starts and ends at the Pordoijoch, the second highest asphalted mountain pass in the Dolomites, with a pass height of 2,239 m. The runners can expect to reach the Pordoijoch immediately after the finish. A steep climb awaits the runners here right after the start and an altitude difference of 980 m over the entire course. A truly strenuous finale that will be rewarded with fame and glory. However, the following applies: Only those who complete all three individual stages in the specified target time will be included in the final classification. The winners of the different classifications will be rewarded with rich prize money.
Fancy a go? Then let’s go to the start!