Tomorrow's skiing world elite
Since the days of the founding father Franz Reisch, the promotion and support of young talent has been one of the core functions of the K.S.C. Back in 1904, 25 sets of skis were procured and given to local boys, who would never have been able to afford them otherwise. Lessons were given by Franz Reisch personally and free of charge. With that he created the prerequisites for the subsequent success of Kitzbühel ski athletes.
The Junior Race has been a very special event for young talent since 2001. It provides a platform for upcoming skiers to partake in alpine ski sport at a competitive level. The race is a team event for which youth team coaches nominate their most promising young skiers aged 14 and 15 years (U16).
On the first official training day for the Hahnenkamm Downhill, the junior athletes meet to give their best in a giant slalom and slalom race. It all kicks off at 10 hrs for the teams of four girls and four boys respectively with the giant slalom on the Ganslernhang Slope. After official training for the downhill stars has ended, which the youngsters are allowed to watch from the grandstands, the slalom race begins at 13.15 hrs.
Admittedly, the race is not as serious as with the seniors. It does not mean that victory is lost for the whole team if someone fluffs a run. Individual results can be disregarded. The best team is awarded with their winner’s prize in the official race finish area. True to style, the trophies are miniature versions of the famous Kitzbühel “Gams” award.
The spectacular setting, in which the young people can get a proper taste of Hahnenkamm racing conditions, is always an impressive experience. “It is a thrill for young athletes to be able to take part in a race within the framework of the best World Cup ski races. It gives them an added incentive to deliver remarkable performances.” Hannes Trinkl, former racer & FIS Race Director.
Truly professional – off piste too: The “Juniors Lounge” at the “Zielhaus” is reserved for the junior teams on race day; where young athletes can warm up and have food. Access is only possible with official accreditation. Before the races, the youngsters can get to know each other during an “Athlete’s Evening” – just like the pros. Moreover, K.S.C. pays for all living expenses with hotel accommodation and board for eight juniors (U16) and up to three coaches per team. Every team is reimbursed with the fuel costs for two buses. The winning team also receives a grant for financial support.
Spectators can also be assured: That amongst the winners, the names of which are still unknown, are very likely to be some of tomorrow’s ski stars. Previous Kitzbühel Junior Race competitors include Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 2003 and 2004, Dominik Paris (ITA) 2004, Beat Feuz (SUI) 2002, Matthias Mayer (AUT) and Germany’s Fritz Dopfer (2001). The ladies list is no less illustrious with Tina Weirather (LIE), Anna Fenninger (AUT), Kathrin Zettel (AUT), Susanne Riesch (GER), Gina Stechert (GER), Katharina Dürr (GER) and Denise Feierabend (SUI).