News from the snow
Kitzbühel is one of the best known names in skiing history and remains one of winter sports key destination resorts to this day. Residents of around 40 countries annually make the trip to the Tyrol to visit the resort marketed as 'The Pearl of the Alps'. Located beneath the famous Hahnenkamm mountain, it has retained its compact village centre and traditional architecture which has grown from a thousand years of history. Today the village is a mix of the liveliest and most colourful international winter sports and après ski of a modern resort, with underlying sophistication in shopping, restaurants and accommodation. In short, there is the proverbial "something for everyone" here. One of the earliest Austrian resorts to embrace downhill skiing, the first downhill skis arrived in the village in 1892 after a resident Franz Reisch, who later became mayor, read a book from Norway about the sport. Two years later a large consignment of skis arrived from Norway to be used in the first Ski championships at the resort. At that time downhill skiing was of the basic Telemark technique, Alpine skiing developed in the early twentieth century in Austria, and the first of the famous Hahnenkamm races was staged in 1931.
Austria's most famous resort, a lively town with chic overtones which most skiers agree has Austria's best intermediate/expert skiing in the mountains above it.
season to watch this spectacular event. There are, however, a few other less internationally well known runs around Kitzbühel's mountains, better suited to we mere mortals.
160km (100 miles) of largely lift inter-linked ski runs in the ski area include over 60 lifts giving a combined 75,000+ sph uplift between the neighbouring resorts of Aschau, Aurach, Jochberg, Kitzbühel, Kirchberg, Pass Thurn and Mittersill. There is a popular 35km (22 mile) one-day 'Ski Safari' route, with trails marked by an elephant symbol and a special guide available from the tourist office. For winter 2004-5 the Safari route was fully completed thanks to the installation of the 3S gondola, described as the world' most beautiful and spectacular, with the lift rising 400m above the valley floor in places. Since winter 2007-8 the entire route has been covered by snowmaking.
The local ski area was recently extended still further by the Ki-West gondola which, more or less,. links it to the SkiWelt ski area nearby, creating a ski region of more than 400km (250 miles) of piste, one of the world' largest, although with a few short bus trips needed in places to make connections, if that matters.
Straying further afield the recently introduced giant Kitzbüheler Alpen Ski Pass takes in the skiing above more than 30 villages in the area and opens up a giant 700km (435 miles) of trails, served by over 260 lifts capable of uplifting 300,000 skiers every hour between them. Skiers and 'borders have a larger choice than usual of ski schools with five in operation, the largest of which is the internationally famous Rote Teufel School or 'Red Devils' with over 200 instructors offering tuition in all disciplines. Current snow conditions are broadcast through live film of the mountain peaks on the local cable TV service every morning.
Children will also especially enjoy the short excursion (7km /4 miles) to the Wildlife Park at neighbouring Aurach where around 200 animals live at 1100 metres above sea level.
A popular culinary excursion is the evening gondola ride on Friday evenings to sample the fayre at the Hochkitzbühel mountain restaurant. Local special Austrian dishes include Wienerschnitzel, Gröstl (sliced potatoes with onions and cooked meat) and of course Apfelstrudel.
Also, there is a new snow park complete with boxes, kickers and rails.