While many details of the new Ski World Cup calendar are still unclear, the kick-off has already been decided: After the traditional giant slalom start in Sölden, the speed racers will be sent to the new World Cup course on the Matterhorn. Both the men and the women will be guests for the first time in the fall of 2022 for two runs each on the new "Gran Becca" between Zermatt and Cervinia. We have all informations about the new speed opening.
The highest World Cup course
The new downhill course will go down in history in several respects: With the start at an altitude of 3800 meters, it is the highest race course in the World Cup. Two-thirds of the four-kilometer course is on natural snow in the glacier ski area, which is open all year round. Snow reliability is not a problem there even in autumn.
Another World Cup novelty is the cross-border course: It starts on the Swiss side at Gobba di Rollin in Zermatt and ends on the Italian side at Laghi Cime Bianchi in Cervinia. This is why two national ski associations – Swiss-Ski and FISI – are responsible for this event.
Since 60% of the course are on Italian soil, an Italian name was sought for the course. However, it should have a reference to Switzerland and this was quickly found with the nearby Matterhorn. "Gran Becca – Great Peak" is how the mighty Matterhorn in the Aosta Valley is referred to by the locals, and this is also how the World Cup course will be remembered by athletes and fans in the future. Because not only the athletes, but also the fans have the big Matterhorn constantly in view during the races.
The peculiarities of the descent
In contrast to the completely newly built Olympic downhill run in China, the organizers of the World Cup run on the Matterhorn are focusing on sustainability. Thus, skiing is already taking place on 95 percent of the slope area. Only minor adjustments will then be necessary for the World Cup course. In addition, the location on the glacier means that there is plenty of natural snow available. If necessary, artificial snow will only be produced for the last third of the course - and then only from existing facilities and with 100 percent meltwater.
The new course was designed by former Swiss professional skier Didier Défago. Over a length of four kilometers, a total of 935 meters in altitude will be covered. Since most of it is above 3000 meters, the thin air will be the biggest challenge for all athletes. The "Gran Becca" in itself is not the most difficult World Cup course, but it is certainly varied. In addition to pure gliding passages, it also includes large and fast downhill curves as well as technical sections with high speed and jumps.
The World Cup program in Zermatt/Cervinia
World Cup Men:
|26 - 28 Oct 2022||Training Men|
|29 Oct 2022 (Sa)||Downhill Men|
|30 Oct 2022 (Su)||Downhill Men|
World Cup Women:
|02 - 04 Nov 2022||Training Women|
|05 Nov 2022 (Sa)||Downhill Women|
|06 Nov 2022 (Su)||Downhill Women|
Only three years from idea to event
While other destinations have been trying in vain for years to get a fixed place in the World Cup calendar, it happened quickly with the "Gran Becca". It was only in 2019 that the idea of a transnational downhill run matured, after the realization of the Glacier Ride II, the year-round cable car connection between Zermatt and Cervinia, was imminent (read more).
In line with the cross-border cable car, the mountain railroads of both ski resorts developed the idea of a downhill event in autumn and met with great interest from the national ski associations. But also the FIS as international ski federation and World Cup organizer was enthusiastic about the snow-sure and sustainable speed opening in a large ski destination in the middle of Europe and wanted to implement this as soon as possible.
Until now, the men's and women's downhill specialists have only been able to get into the action in North America at the end of November. This will now be moved forward by four weeks to the race-free period after the start of the season in Sölden. In the glacier skiing area in Zermatt, which is open all year round, the teams can prepare for the entire month of October. In addition, at least two training runs on the race piste are scheduled shortly before the World Cups.
Since the opening of the new 3S run is delayed until spring 2023 due to the Corona pandemic, the organizers actually wanted to start with the World Cup races only in fall 2023 and use fall 2022 for a trial run in the European Cup. But the FIS is so enthusiastic about the new speed opening that they want to start with the first World Cup races already this year. To ensure that nothing goes wrong at the premiere, the organizers will be supported on site by an experienced team of experts from Val Gardena/Gröden.
As soon as there are more informations about the races and ticket information, it will be announced on the official Speedopening Homepage.