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The Cresta Run

Listed under Extreme Challenge in Switzerland.

Photo of The Cresta Run
Photo by flickr user Zak di Zakcomics
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This famous ice run is known for being one of the world’s most thrilling experiences: lying face down against a light, fragile seeming, metal sled only inches from the ice you wait… then plummet down a smooth white chute, through perversely tight corners over a three quarter mile course at speeds reaching 80 miles an hour.

Different from bobsleigh and skeleton, Cresta riders use rakes attached to their boots to steer and the really serious don sleek wetsuits and aerodynamic helmets - they may look silly but the fastest complete the twisting, unforgiving course in less than a minute. The current record is 50.09 seconds which equates to an average speed of more than 53 miles per hour and a finishing speed of over 80.

Rebuilt annually by the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club (SMTC), the run shoots down a steep valley through ten almost hair pin corners, dropping 500 feet from the ‘Leaning Tower’ in St. Moritz to the village of Celerina. Conditions have to be perfect before the run will open, but it’s usually ready a few days before Christmas and lasts about nine weeks. The SMTC runs competitions several days a week but non-members are able to apply for temporary memberships which allow them to try the run out on practice days. Prospective Cresta riders are advised to arrange their temporary membership in advance, leather boots and arm and leg guards included, or you can stand on one of the cross run bridges and watch the brave shoot towards and under you in a blur.

The key, apparently, isn’t just to let gravity take it’s course but to take control at the beginning of the run, make sure you fall off the back of your sled and if you get injured remain on the run.

The bad news is that women are no longer permitted…they were briefly until 1929, but have since been banned.

Cresta Run Website.

Written by  Blair Metcalfe.

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