In this age of equality, there are very few things that women cannot do, but the rules of the privately-run St Moritz Toboggan Club, which oversees all activities relating to the Cresta Run, prevent them from the nerve-tingling sensation of hurling themselves down this world-famous ice run.
Luckily for all male adrenalin junkies over the age of 18 years of age, despite it being a private club, they can ride on non-race days (Saturdays, Sundays and one weekday during the season, which extends from just before Christmas until the end of February/early March, though it is dependent on weather conditions).
Probably the easiest way to get access to the ice run is to buy a Cresta Run Package from the Kulm Hotel St Moritz, which houses the Sunny Bar, home of the Cresta outside riding hours. The Cresta Run Package includes 3 nights’ B&B accommodation, fresh fruit and water changed daily in the room, lunch daily in the Sunny Bar and five rides on the Cresta Run during your stay, as well as tuition, equipment and a 25-minute massage, which should come in handy to soothe bumps and bruises!
Though ladies are not allowed to ride the Cresta Run, they are welcome to accompany partners who are and can purchase the same Cresta Run Package, with the Cresta element substituted for a CHF400 (approx £260) credit in the hotel’s stunning Panorama Spa (please note that the credit for the spa treatments cannot be reimbursed if it is not used in full).
The Cresta Run
The Cresta is the only natural ice run in the world; it measures three quarters of a mile long and winds its way from above the ‘Leaning Tower’ in St Moritz not far from the Kulm Hotel St Moritz down a steep gully through ten testing corners, past the tiny hamlet of Cresta, to the village of Celerina. The total drop is 514 ft and the gradient varies from 1 in 2.8 to 1 in 8.7.
Rooted in tradition, the first Run was completed in January 1885 and took nearly nine weeks to build. Only the three upper banks received detailed work. The Cresta Run is still built from scratch every year using the natural contours of the valley and earth banks to provide a framework on which to pile the snow. The Run from Junction is built first, the upper banks second.
The Cresta has two starting points: Top and Junction. The current record from Top is 50.09 seconds, held by James Sunley. This means an average speed of over 53 m.p.h. ending at Finish at a speed close to 80 m.p.h. Riders from Junction begin opposite the Clubhouse, about one-third down the Run from Top. The current record from Junction, held by Johannes Badrutt, is 41.02 seconds.
Beginners start from Junction and are encouraged to go down in a time of between 65 and 75 seconds. Riders brake using the rakes on their boots and if they are out of control they are certain to go out at Shuttlecock, the most famous corner of the Run. Fallers at Shuttlecock automatically become members of the Shuttlecock Club and are entitled to wear a Shuttlecock tie.
There is only one Cresta Run; it is unique and remains one of the last truly amateur sports in the world.