The History of Ski Racing in Zermatt

These days, Zermatt is known as one of the best ski resorts in the world. With a huge ski area offering 360​km of slopes and views of the iconic Matterhorn, it’s no surprise to learn that this Swiss village has long had a special link to skiing.

1902: First mountain guide course in Zermatt

The foundations of the Zermatt Ski Club were laid in 1902, when the first ski course for mountain guides took place.

@Skiclub Zermatt

Early skiers in Zermatt
@Skiclub Zermatt

1908: Zermatt Ski Club founded

Six years later, in December 1908, the club was officially founded, with an initial membership of around 50 locals.

1909: First ski lessons in Zermatt

The first ski lessons taught by an instructor took place only a few months after the founding of the Ski Club, in January 1909.

It’s important to remember this was at a time before the resort had any lifts, so these early pioneers had to walk to their skis areas, meaning big hikes up to Schwarzsee, Gornergrat and Blauherd.

1923: First ski race in Zermatt

The first race organised by the Zermatt Ski Club took place in 1923, the winter before the inaugural Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix.

Summer races were organised on the Theodul Glacier and despite the challenges of reaching this high-altitude area on foot, they attracted an international field, with competitors coming over from Valtournache (known now as Cervinia) across the border in Italy.

It’s from these beginnings that the Theodul Glacier developed into the racing and training area it is today. These days, the same slopes are used by numerous national ski teams for training during the summer and autumn months.

The Zermatt Ski Club today

Today, the Zermatt Ski Club has around 600 members. The club has always promoted young talent and over 200 of the current members are children.

In winter, training takes place on Saturdays, when young people have the opportunity to take part in special programs and benefit from experienced trainers and ski instructors.

Olympics Champions from Zermatt

The efforts of the Zermatt Ski Club are paying off. Over the years they have produced numerous talented athletes, including several Olympic champions.

Alfred Aufdenblatten and Anton and Alfons Julen were Olympic champions at the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1924. Then sixty years later Max Julen won gold in the Giant Slalom at the Sarajevo Olympics.

World Cup skiers Fränzi Aufdenblatten , Elia Zurbriggen and Charlotte Lingg all made their first turns on the Zermatt snow.

Franzi Aufdenblatten © Christophe Pallot

The Zermatt Ski Club Night Race

One of the big highlights in the annual calendar is the Ski Club’s night race on the local slopes at Ärmetje.

Every year in mid-February, members and guests meet at dusk for this night race. Participation is free and everyone who takes part receives a small souvenir gift.

Racing against Zermatt’s young talents under the spotlight is something special, but even if you’re not racing it’s worth going to watch as a spectator.


Book accommodation in Zermatt

Contact the Matterhorn Chalets team on +41 79 247 15 88 to check the latest availability for self-catering apartments and serviced chalets.

And if you need help with your flights, transfers, lift passes, ski lessons or anything else, Ed and Suzanne can help arrange every detail of our guests’ stay in Zermatt via our Concierge Service.

ed suzanne


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