Skiing Games

Skiing Games

The Arlberg Kandahar by Roberto Bell

The Arlberg Kandahar men’s downhill takes place successively at Saint Anton (Austria), Garmisch Partenkirschen (Germany) and, since 1948, Chamonix (France). A selection of internationally renowned ski resorts hosting one of the greatest events on the international ski racing circuit. This legendary race has become the main sporting event in Chamonix, and is one of the reasons for the valley’s celebrated skiing reputation.

For many years the Kandahar took place every two or three years however, since 2004, the Chamonix event on the Verte piste in Les Houches has taken place yearly. As the only men’s downhill World Cup approved piste in the region (and only one of two in the whole of France), Chamonix and Les Houches have a unique and precious privilege. Today the Kandahar is among the great downhill courses alongside Wengen and Kitzbuhel.

Created in 1928 the Kandahar was in existence long before the creation of the World Cup Circuit. The first race was held in Saint Anton in 1928(Austria) and it was the first international alpine ski race to combine the downhill with the slalom, a combination which still exists today in both the Winter Olympics and the World Championships. In those pioneering years those who won the Les Houches Kandahar would be legends in their own time, and for decades the Arlberg Kandahar races were the ultimate events in alpine skiing.

The first trophies for the winners of the Kandahar were awarded by Lord Roberts of Kandahar. Lord Roberts had been awarded his title in recognition of his liberation of the battalion surrounded in the town of Kandahar during the Afghanistan war. After his victory Roberts, then a Field Marshall, became one of the most popular men serving in the British army.

The Kandahar lost some of its influence with the introduction of the World Cup skiing events in 1967, when the classic combined event lost ground to the increasingly sought after individual events. But when the combined event became an official Olympic discipline in 1988, and was included in the Olympic Games for the first time at Lillehammer (Norway) in 1994, it won back much of its prestige. Even today the combination of the downhill and the slalom is not only a fascinating event but also very challenging for the skiers – indeed there are few modern skiers suited to such events.

Matt lives and works in Chamonix
He runs skiing holidays through his company Chalet 1802.

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