Mürren to stage the world’s most famous amateur ski race with a full complement of competitors……

The Swiss ski resort of Mürren, cradle of Alpine ski racing and home of the world’s longest downhill ski race, has confirmed the 2021 International Inferno Races will take place 20-23 January 2021, subject to coronavirus regulations in force at the time.* Despite uncertainty about the pandemic, amateur ski racers’ enthusiasm to take part has been as strong as ever with a record number of British competitors entered. All 1850 places in the Downhill are filled with a wait list of 300 hopefuls. The Cross-Country and Giant Slalom races for 550 competitors in the Inferno Super Combination will also go ahead as usual. Putting the safety of everyone as a priority, the wrap-up party has been scaled back in line with social distancing guidelines and fringe events will be restricted to an acceptable minimum.

The car-free village of Mürren (www.muerren.swiss) and its mountain panorama of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau make a spectacular setting for the Inferno and a holiday at any time of year. The Inferno course starts just below the Schilthorn (2970m) and its mountain-top revolving restaurant, which found fame as Blofeld’s HQ in the classic Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). The Schilthorn remains a magnet for Bond fans and passionate skiers, and the Inferno is a thrilling challenge to match the exciting ski and bobsleigh chase in the film, when Bond escapes Blofeld’s clutches. The steep black run from the Schilthorn is on every keen skier’s to-do list. Holiday skiers can follow the Inferno course at their own pace or perfect their turns on gentler runs lower down the mountain, enjoying the magnificent scenery from a selection of excellent restaurants on the slopes.

This year’s International Inferno-Races event has attracted entries from a record 24 countries. The UK has 358 skiers entered, representing almost 20% and including high profile Brit Chemmy Alcott, the UK’s former no. 1 female ski racer turned BBC Ski Sunday presenter, who as an Inferno debutante came 3rd overall in the 2020 women’s race - less than one second behind the winner. Among those flying the British flag for the men are former World Champion Formula 1 racing driver Damon Hill and former British no. 1 downhiller Dougie Crawford (Chemmy’s Alcott’s husband) who came 8th overall this year. Fingers crossed for a husband and wife double gold in 2021. Austrian newcomer Josef ‘Pepi’ Strobl (7 World Cup victories and 22 podiums) will be a threat to the local Swiss favourites for the most coveted title in amateur ski racing.

*Plan B: On 12th August, the Swiss Government sanctioned events of more than 1000 people from October enabling the International Inferno-Races to go ahead with appropriate control measures at start and finish. If the rule is reimposed, the race will be spread over two days and with the 12 seconds interval between racers it will be possible to avoid more than 50 people congregating around the start and finish areas.

For information about Mürren: www.muerren.swiss

For information about Schilthorn Cableway Ltd: www.schilthorn.ch

For information about the International Inferno Races: www.inferno-muerren.ch/en

THE INFERNO: Inaugurated on 29 January 1928 by 17 British members of the Kandahar Ski Club, including 4 women, the Inferno is the longest downhill ski race (Schilthorn to Lauterbrunnen, 15km, 2000 vertical metres). 2020 was the 77th Inferno and the 35th Combination of Cross-Country, Giant Slalom and Downhill races. Inferno week has become an internationally famous annual festival of ski racing thanks to the vision and leadership of local champion and former World Cup racer Kurt Huggler.

MÜRREN & SKIING OVERVIEW: Mürren was launched as a winter sports resort by tour operator Henry Lunn in 1910/11 and has been a favourite with British skiers ever since. During WW1 the resort was an internment centre for injured British prisoners of war, some of whom Henry’s son Arnold introduced to skiing. Between the wars it was a key centre in the evolution of Alpine ski racing. Arnold Lunn set the first modern slalom at Mürren (1922), organised the first World Championship of Alpine skiing (1931) and raced in the first Inferno (1928). Arnold’s son Peter (1914 – 2011) captained the British team at the 1936 Winter Olympics and skied in Mürren to the end of his life, competing in the Inferno aged 90 in 2005.

SKIING, MÜRREN THE KANDAHAR SKI CLUB: Lord Roberts of Kandahar presented the cup for a Lunn-organised downhill race held at Montana, Switzerland, in January 1911. The name Kandahar stuck to the race, which moved to Mürren where in January 1924 Arnold Lunn and other British enthusiasts founded the Kandahar Ski Club to promote Alpine racing. After Lunn and Hannes Schneider staged the first Arlberg-Kandahar races at St Anton in 1928, Kandahar spread as a racy skiing brand – bindings, boots and challenging ski pistes all over the world.

MÜRREN & BOND OVERVIEW: Mürren was the film location for much of the 1969 Bond classic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring George Lazenby and Diana Rigg and including a ski chase which set a new standard for action-filming that remains unsurpassed. The crew lived and worked in the village for 5 months and many villagers were extras in the film. The revolving Piz Gloria restaurant at the Schilthorn (2970m) was adapted for the film and retains elements of the original décor; the mountaintop cable-car station also houses Bond World, a permanent interactive exhibition dedicated to every aspect of the film. In 2015 the 007 Walk of Fame opened, connecting Piz Gloria and Bond World to a spectacular viewing platform via a path along the summit ridge.

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