World Alpine Championships Underway in Germany

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, site of the 1936 Winter Olympics, is hosting the World Alpine Ski Championships now
The World Alpine Ski Championships. which are held in odd-numbered years so as not to conflict with the Olympics, began yesterday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavarian Alps, close to the Austrian border. Garmisch previously hosted the event in 1978 (when the championships were held in even-numbered, non-Olympic years), and of course, Garmisch also hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics, the first Games to include Alpine (i.e., downhill as opposed to cross-country skiing).

Since the twin towns’ six-syllabel name is a mouthful for many non-Germans, the event’s popular name is been shortened to GAP2011, and a suitable contemporary logo has been designed as its graphic signature. 

My husband and I visited Garmisch on a bleak October weekend, and the ski jumping stadium remains a popular visitor attraction. People wander around the stadium, read plaques and, when we were there, were  gazing up at the cloud-shrouded slopes.

In October, the "infield" grass in the jumping stadium, built for the 1936 Winter Olympics was green, and the clouds hung low over the facility.

In 1936, the Olympic oath was recited by German skier Willy Bogner (who later founded a skiwear company that today remains one of the top sports apparel firms in the world). Twenty-eight nations participated, and medals were awarded in 17 sports. Men and women competed in both downhill and slalom, with gold, silver and bronze medals given for combined scores. Slalom, the shortest Alpine discipline,  was held on a slope called the Gudiberg and the downhill, started on the Kreuzeck and finished at the Kreuzjoch. Germany’s Franz Pfnür and Christl Cranz won those first-ever Olympic Alpine events.

The 2011 World Championships features 10 events (slalom, giant slalom, Super G, downhill and SuperCombi for men and women). The Gudiberg is still in use as the German Alpine training center, but the downhill races are now run on the fabled Kandahar run, which has nothing to do with a province in Afghanistan. The first medals were awarded yesterday. The U.S. Ski Team’s Julia Mancuso took silver. Austria’s Elisabeth Görgl won the gold, and a German racer was once again on the podium, thanks to Maria Reisch’s bronze.

It would be thrilling to attend the World Championships (I’ve been to those in Vail in 1989 and 1999 and except to watch some races in 2015 as well), but it’s good to be in Garmisch any time — except on a fall day when it’s cloudy and rainy.

2 thoughts on “World Alpine Championships Underway in Germany”

  1. Claire – I just found your site! Can’t believe it took me so long, since I’m sure we’re travel soul-sisters. 🙂

    My dad lives very close to Garmisch. I, too, have been there in October, so it was sans snow, and kind of dismal, but still a really lovely part of Bavaria.

  2. Similar universe indeed. My husband and I were in Germay for a Society of American Travel Writers convention in October. We had glorfrious weather in Baden Baden & the Black Forest, where it had rained for two weeks before our arrival. I said we brought Colo weather with us. Then we crossed the country to attend the convention itself in Dresden & Leipzig, where lovely days deteriorated into gray ones. We hoped that the things would clear up after the convention for a few days in Bavaria, but it was alternately gray, drizzly and raining hard. Only on the very last day of my trip did the sun emerge again ( I left the following morning — in the dark and in the rain.

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