The FIS Alpine World Cup comes to Zermatt and Cervinia for the 2023/24 season opening races. Find out all about this new race here:
- When is the Zermatt / Cervinia World Cup downhill taking place?
- Is the Zermatt / Cervinia downhill the first World Cup race of the season?
- Where is the Zermatt / Cervinia World Cup downhill course?
- Who designed the Zermatt / Cervinia downhill course?
- Can athletes can train all year round for this race?
- Will I be able to watch the race?
- Is there an official website?
- Listen to The Ski Podcast
When is the Zermatt / Cervinia World Cup downhill taking place?
The first cross-border FIS races in the history of the Ski World Cup will take place on 11/12 November and 18/19 November 2023.
In both cases, training runs will take place on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with racing taking place on the Saturday and Sunday of each weekend.
Is the Zermatt / Cervinia downhill the first World Cup race of the season?
No. The traditional season opener in Solden, Austria in October will continue to be the first event on the European circuit. However, Solden is a Giant Slalom race only, so the Zermatt / Cervinia race will be the first Downhill.
The Solden races will take place on 28/29 October.
We first revealed in October 2021 that the race could become the first downhill of the season.
Will there be enough snow?
The Zermatt glacier has an excellent record for snow and the race will have the highest start point for any World Cup race ever held.
However, to be even more sure that the event will take place, Cervinia has five locations along the course where they have been ‘snow farming’ to preserve snow from last winter. Special blankets covering artificial snow means that 70% of it will survive the summer months.
You can see this snow farming clearly in the image taken from the Plateau Rosa webcam on 07 September 2023.
Where is the Zermatt / Cervinia World Cup downhill course?
The races will be held on the ‘Gran Becca’ (meaning ‘big peak’ in the local dialect) course, which starts at 3800m on Gobba di Rollin in Switzerland and finishes at 2865m in Laghi Cime Bianche above Cervinia in Italy.
The total course length is more than 4km with a vertical drop of almost 1000m. The women’s race will be on the same course, but starting slightly lower down.
Who designed the Zermatt / Cervinia downhill course?
The course was designed by Swiss downhill racer, Didier Defago, winner of the 2010 Olympic downhill.
Famous Swiss racer Pirmin Zurbriggen is also on the team as an advisor and ambassador for the event. You can listen to an interview with Zurbriggen in the special episode of The Ski Podcast below.
The top of the course will be smooth with long downhill curves. After 30 seconds or so, racers will hit their first big jump, before another glide to Testa Grigia where racers will cross the border into Italy.
From this point, it’s more like a Super-G course, finishing with a jump “over a 65% slope with a distance of about 80 metres” according to the organisers
Spectators at the finish should be able to view nearly 50% of the race, as shown in the picture below:
Athletes can train all year round
One of the advantages of racing in Zermatt is that all international teams will be able to take advantage of on-site training throughout the year.
This is another reason that FIS have added the Zermatt / Cervinia race to the calendar as it will reduce travel to long distance venues in the Southern Hemisphere and help reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint.
Can I watch the race?
The organising committee is currently working on a pricing strategy for tickets in the finish area (standing and grandstand).
It is likely that Zermatt Turismo and the Cervino Turismo will offer packages that will include accommodation, skipass and entry to the finish area.
Is there an official website?
Yes, you can follow information about the race here.
Listen to the podcast
If you’d like to hear more, then why not listen to this special episode of The Ski Podcast. Presenter Iain Martin interviewed ‘Speed Opening’ CEO Christian Ziojian, as well as legendary Swiss ski racer and event ambassador Pirmin Zurbriggen.
Accommodation in Zermatt
If you’d like to find accommodation in Zermatt for the World Cup races, then be sure to book early as it is certain to be busy.
Please contact the Matterhorn Chalets team on +41 79 247 15 88