When the Lauberhorn Race takes place in January, thousands of ski fans transform the areas lining the route into one long party. The skiing race, organised by the FIS, has been taking place in Wengen every year since 1930. It is one of the classic races in the Alpine Skiing World Cup and is regarded as the toughest downhill course in the world. There are lots of exciting tales about the event...
A ski slope that has been prepared for an FIS World Cup race is not to be recommended for normal skiers, however experienced they may be. That's because these courses consist of pure ice rather than snow. If you lose your edge grip here, you experience a terrifyingly fast descent into the safety net. It makes even the professionals nervous - no surprise that they barely even take a breath until they have crossed the finishing line.
Then there is the entertaining story of "Moli", one of the all-time greats of Swiss skiing. He was born in 1920 in Wengen, the son of a shoemaker who owned a sports shop. After making a name for himself as a mere 13-year-old lad by taking part in the Jungfrau ski jumping competition, in 1939 he became the triumphant winner of the Lauberhorn Race – the toughest course in the world. And with a lead of nine seconds! His record attracted attention all over the country and everyone was asking: "How ever did he do it?"
Along with other successes, Molitor went on to win the Lauberhorn five more times, in 1940, '42, '43, '45 and '47. With a total of six wins, he was the undisputed record-holder. But the mystery about his first victory dogged Moli right into old age. People thought he might have taken a short cut, but there was no evidence for that. Then, in an interview with a magazine, the champion eventually gave away his secret: the night before, his village ski instructor and his pupils had trampled down a short cut for him between two gates near the Staubbachbänkli hut. So Moli did indeed go off on to his unofficial private slope – but it turned out to be far too narrow: it was only the width of one ski, and he barely had room to brake. He accelerated so fast that, terrified, he fell over when he rejoined the piste 150 metres further down. But his luck was in: when he stood up again, his skis were pointing towards the finishing line. And so, with a few pushes with his poles and a nine-second lead, he managed to reach the finishing line.
Later, after a successful skiing career, Moli took up his father's job and continued to manage the sports shops. From 1952 he was also President of the Ski Club and, for 35 years, Race Director of the Lauberhorn Race. This sporting legend died in Grindelwald in 2014 at the age of 94.
Our hosts in Wengen are also big fans of this annual event! The three different areas of the hotel restaurant are named after the sections of the race course and you can see several signed photos of famous racing skiers.