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Backstage

L for Legendary

When sporting events resumed after the Second World War and the Austrians were allowed to participate in the Lauberhorn race once more, Switzerland had notched up an impressive tally of downhill wins, putting it far in the lead. The advent of Othmar Schneider in 1951 would change all that. He became the second Austrian downhill champion on the Lauberhorn (after Richard Werle in 1935), winning again in 1952, and after this success, the Austrians would only rarely let victory in the Lauberhorn race slip from their grasp. The Austrians won the Lauberhorn race every year until 1960, and have remained a firm fixture on the victory podium ever since, trumping skiers of other nationalities.

The Lauberhorn, located near Wengen in Switzerland, with a fantastic view of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfraujoch, has been the venue for the race which bears its name since 1930. The downhill run is interesting - at 4.5 km the longest of all World Cup downhills and boasting extremely challenging sections. Not only do the ski racers require perfect technique and physical fitness, they also need plenty of courage. The pros reach up to 160 km/h, arriving at the finish line in times of just 2.5 minutes - or less. Achieving this twice as the fastest skier is a feat in itself. Apart from the medals, however, it is the memories of Swiss hospitality, the wholesome, and, for post-war sportsmen, extremely sumptuous food served at the Alpenrose guesthouse, ski-jumping on the evening before the race and games of ice hockey which made the Lauberhorn race Othmar Schneider's personal favourite.