28./29. March 1931
The Hahnenkamm Race and the Kitzbühel Ski Club belong together like twins
. Their histories have run in parallel and have much in common: Christened in the same year (1931) with the same names they bare today, the fruits of deep roots and tradition have formed the building blocks for them both to reach ever higher and achieve ever greater performances. The Ski Club unifies the rich tradition of the Winter Sports Association and the modern Kitzbühel Sport Club with it's ski-squad. The Hahnenkamm race grew from the tradition of the Franz-Reisch-Memorial Race and the fascination with the modern international Kandahar race. When in January 1931 the Franz-Reisch-Memorial Race took place in Kitzbühel shortly after the first officially approved Kandahar event, and in March a competition held by the Winter Association run according to the Kandahar rules had taken place, no-one could have imagined what a success story this combination of the two elements would bring.
This competition on the 28th and 29th of March 1931 was the first Hahnenkamm race.
The Winter Sports Association had already turned to the directors of the Hahnenkamm Bergbahn AG in January to ask for their support in putting on the race. They agreed to hold the race in March. This late date was chosen to show the whole world that skiing was still possible on the Hahnenkamm when spring was already blossoming in other renowned winter sports towns. The Bergbahn AG rewarded this advertising effort by donating a challenge trophy.
The organisers and participants
of the first race couldn't have known that they were establishing a long term tradition. This wasn't even apparent in the years that followed. The K.S.C only began officially documenting the Hahnenkamm race with the 12th edition in 1950. How the number 12 came about is anyone's guess. After extensive research of the historical archives, we can be certain that this figure is not accurate. Until the 60's the Hahnenkamm winners honours board was also engraved with the names of the victors from races in 1933 and 1934, even though no Hahnenkamm races were documented during these years. For a long time the German armed forces and Police championship in 1939 was mistakenly claimed as a Hahnenkamm race. And there were variations in the official records later on. The Alpine section of the 3rd International Skiweek of Austria, held in 1954 in Kitzbühel, was neither recorded as a Hahnenkamm race nor considered as such. Two years later this was reconsidered — and the results were declared as Hahnenkamm races. This meant that the Hahnenkamm races from 1957, formerly the 17th Hahnenkamm race, is now recognised as the 18th. Therefore, according to the records, the 17th Hahnenkamm race never officially took place.
The confusion about which
races during the 30's can be considered Hahnenkamm races stems in all probability from the fact that the K.S.C. archives were lost in the post war years. The oldest contemporary evidence includes an article from 1938. The article names 1933 as the first occurrence of the Hahnenkamm race. This was actually wrong. Inquiries with participants of the event seem to prove otherwise. However, because of the great length of time there is obviously a lot of confusion about the races between the sportsmen and officials. Fritz Huber Snr. reports that the first Hahnenkamm races were held in January 1931. This is actually a reference to the already traditional Franz-Reisch-Memorial Race. The confusion can be easily cleared up: The downhill race of the memorial event took place on the Streifalm. And the Streif became synonymous with Hahnenkamm races. In the early years the downhill went down from the Steinbergkogel, and once started from the Pengelstein. This is how it came to be that over the years Georg Berger in the downhill, and Jack Lackner in the combined, were considered to be the winners of the first Hahnenkamm races. But this honour belongs to the winners of the races held in March 1931. In those days the field was made up of racers who had already taken part in the Mürrener race, as well as competitors from Arlberg and Innsbruck. The Hahnenkamm Bergbahn made the route to the start much easier for the athletes. They only had to go by foot from the mountain station to the start of the downhill at Ehrenbachhöhe. The slalom was originally planned to take place from the Steinbergkogel and go towards Griesalmen. The weather forced a change of course. The first Hahnenkamm race was reported in the Innsbrucker Newspaper as follows: "On Saturday and Sunday the Winter Sports Association of Kitzbühel played host to a competition that was a beautiful sporting event with numerous participants from the Kandahar Ski- Club Mürren. The downhill started from Ehrenbachhöhe, and went via the upper and lower Fleckalpe to Klausen. Perfect corn snow and glorious weather swished the racers to the valley; the times they recorded are amazing for the era. In the morning the weather was poor so the slalom had to be relocated to the valley. In the afternoon the sun finally broke through the clouds and the race directors decided to hold the slalom race on the Hahnenkamm. Bill Braken, the English Skiing Champion and winner of the slalom event in the Kandahar meeting, set a classy slalom course that demanded a lot of technical expertise. A considerable number of spectators followed the exciting race with interest."
26 sportsmen took part in the downhill
. Nine competitors finished the course. The winner was Ferdinand Friedensbacher
with a time of 4:34.12 minutes. The slalom featured 22 racers, victory going to Hans Mariacher
with a time of 0:44.48 minutes in the first run and 0:43.12 minutes in the second run. The English racer Gordon Neil Spencer Cleaver from SC Kandahar
placed second with times of 0:42.48 and 0:44.00 minutes. This meant that Cleaver, who had come sixth in the downhill, finished with a rating of 269.29 which gave him combined and overall victory.
Book excerpt "Chronicle of a Myth" issue I, Kitzbüheler Ski Club - email@example.com