The Vialattea, and in particular Sestriere, is one of the skiing resorts that hosted the biggest number of alpine skiing World Cups in the world.
The history of the World Cup in Sestriere dates back before the birth of the World Cup format. In fact, already in the fifties, the skiing races of the Kandahar circuit, named after the famous Afghan city, took place on mount Banchetta.
To understand the connection between the Afghan city and Sestriere, we shall go back to the beginning of last century, and more precisely to the 6th of January 1911, when the “Roberts’ of Kandahar” cup was offered as a prize for a mountain competition held in Switzerland. The man was an English Lord, the Queen Victoria conferred the honorary title of “Duke of Kandahar” upon, for leading the British troops to an important victory against a rebel army in the Afghan village of Quandahar in 1880; the “Q” became then a “K” for the same of pronunciation.
Lord Roberts was very keen on sport and in particular on skiing and for this reason the cup was named after him.
At that time skiing was at dawning, but due to World War One everything slowed down and, of course, this affected also the evolution of skiing and races.
Another historical name is then associated to this sport, i.e. Sir Arnold Lunn, born in London in 1881, most certainly the progenitor of modern skiing. In 1924 he established the British Skiing Club, named Kandahar Ski Club, with seat in Mürren, a village in the Bernese Oberland, in front of the imposing Jungfrau group, including the Eiger with its stately north wall called “the white spider”. Still nowadays, Mürren can be reached only with the special train or the cableway; moreover before Mürren is located Wengen , where in 1925 was established the DOC, Downhill Only Club (Wengen is still always site for the skiing World Cup, with the renowned Lauberhorn trophy, the longest downhill race of all).
The evolution leads us then to another site in the Austrian alps, where we meet another legendary figure in the skiing world, i.e. Hannes Schneider. The meeting between Lunn and Schneider resulted in the first modern slalom race, that took place in Sankt Anton am Arlberg (or Kitzbühel) in Austria, in 1927.
In 1928, was held there also the Arlberg Kandahar trophy.
This marked the birth of the first Kandahar trophy, that stayed in St. Anton until 1930 to be then moved to Mürren, in an ideal exchange between the two resorts. After the 2nd World War the competition gained increasing importance, appealing also other resorts, whose candidatures were examined and approved, as it happened with the French Chamonix, where the race was held in 1948, Sestriere, that hosted it in 1951 and then Garmisch Partenkirchen, in Bayern, in 1954.
The Kandahar race counts among the winners several famous names, such as Celina Seghi, Zeno Colò and Karl Schranz.
Since then, with the new World Cup format, the “white world” came back very often to Sestriere and its mountains.
From 1967 to date, 57 World Cup races, 1 Cup final race in 2004, 1 World Championship in 1997 and 1 Winter Olympics in 2006 were held in this skiing area.
During many of these events several world champions confirmed their performances right here: Annemarie Moser-Pröll, who won the glass cup up to six times in the seventies, the Luxembourgian Marc Girardelli, male record holder with five cups , Ingemar Stenmark, who won 86 races during his career, the Swiss Vreni Schneider, Benjamin Raich, Svindal and the North American Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn.
Indelible memories in our history are the gorgeous skiing performances that link Alberto Tomba to Sestriere, with his five wins and the bronze medal in 1997, as well as the two consecutive victories of Deborah Compagnoni in the slalom and giant races again in 1997.
In 2006, the 20th edition of the Winter Olympic Games it was a real success. In Sestriere were played all the men's competitions (Speed events on the Kandahar Banchetta Nasi and technical events on Kandahar Giovanni A. Agnelli), and all women's technical competitions. In those days were announced champions such as B. Raich, who made a splendid double 1st place in Giant Slalom and Slalom and Julia Mancuso, young winner of the women's Giant Slalom.
Many other champions have closed their ski career by winning the gold medal: K. A. Aamodt in Super G and A. Paerson in Slalom. After the 2006 Olympic Games, the World Cup came back in 2008 with women's Speed Events. During these years, started L.Vonn (at that time named Kildow) best winning period.
In 2009 it was the males time with a Combined and Giant Slalom Event, won by C. Janca and D. Cuche.
Sestriere re-enters in the World Cup in the 2016/2017 season, after a few years of absence and it was a big success. More than 20.000 people came to Sestriere to cheer on the athletes and celebrate the fantastic second place of Sofia Goggia in her best season.
The next unmissable appointment will be 18th and 19th January 2020 when a giant and a parallel Slalom will take place. The enthusiasm is at the top and everybody desire to do a great job and look forward to welcome the female athletes and show them all the best affection and warmth.