The Super Bowl of Skiing ... in reverse: In February 2019, Vertical Up is right up there. A crazy gathering where the only way is up, with 860 meters of vertical gain to master.
The summit of the Hahnenkamm looms large over the Austrian ski resort of Kitzbuehel. A myriad of ski slopes meander down the mountain in winter, the most famous of which is the notorious 3,312-meter long "Streif". Translated as "stripe" or "streak", it’s a wicked, twisting, insane snake of a run, one filled with blind drops, daredevil jumps, and unforgiving grade steeps. It’s the ultimate in downhill courses, and the World Cup race it hosts every January is often run in ludicrously treacherous conditions—and it is often referred to as "the Super Bowl of Skiing."
A month after the main event, the course is tackled uphill rather than down: Competitors in their hundreds set off in a mass start for the Streif Vertical Up from Kitzbuehel, lighting up the snow with their head torches as they begin the tortuous climb to the top. Now in its 9th year, the night race features multinational competitors from across Europe—some choosing cross-country skis and poles, others switching skis for spikes—testing their mettle in subzero temperatures. A crazy gathering where the only way is up for 3,312 meters, with 860 meters of vertical gain to master. This year’s event, again, has two divisions, the Backpack Event where it’s all about fun and the Speed Event for some serious challenge. Those wishing to compete for their chance at glory in fancy dressing will join the Best Dress Ranking. Competitons start at 6:30pm at the Hahnenkamm Finish Area.