Cresta Run St. MoritzHeroes of the ice
Hurtling down an ice track head-first at 140 km/h while keeping your nose just a few centimetres above the ice. In St. Moritz, this kind of incredible adrenaline rush is only possible on the legendary Cresta Run.
Brave men in full-body suits on trumped-up ironing boards with handles transform themselves into human torpedoes. Introducing Cresta in St. Moritz – this unusual sport later evolved into what we now know as skeleton, and has been carried out on an ice track between St. Moritz and Celerina since 1884.
High speed manoeuvres
It looks as crazy as it sounds: the athletes lie on sleds like tadpoles. At the wide end is the full-face helmet, while behind, the rider’s legs wriggle around in an attempt to steer the vehicle. Skilful manoeuvring is key. For unlike a bobsleigh run, the shape of the Cresta Run is a wide open "U", which means you can fly right off the track if you’re not careful.
Legendary shuttlecock separates the wheat from the chaff
There are two starting lines on the Cresta Run: the full-length version begins at "Top", while a shorter two-thirds option starts at "Junction". Beginners are only allowed to start at the latter, and for good reason: the average speed clocked up by the best riders from a standing start is around 90 km/h, and the top speed on the lower part of the track is approximately 140 km/h. The most notorious of the ten corners is the "shuttlecock". It acts as a kind of safety valve for sleds that are too fast and out of control. The surrounding area is hence padded with hay bales. Riders who exit this corner with a display of aerial acrobatics gain entry to the "shuttlecock club" – and from then on can officially wear a red neck tie in the Cresta Club. The current Cresta record has been held by Brit James Sunley since 1999 when he completed the run in just 50.09 seconds.
The Cresta Run is an adventure, it’s like playing with fire – which is precisely what makes it so fascinating. Normally the Cresta Run opens shortly before Christmas and closes at the start of March. Over thirty high-calibre races are held here throughout the winter. And it’s all very British: the announcer speaks exclusively in English, many riders wear historical sports clothing and good old-fashioned British manners are also writ large. The Cresta Club is one of the few remaining men’s clubs. Women are not allowed to use the run, except on the very last day of the season.
The Cresta Club is indeed very exclusive, but non-members are also welcome to try their luck. Originally, the club’s members were almost exclusively British or American. However it’s become more open in the last few years and today many members hail from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria and France. Members consider it a great honour to teach beginners and introduce them to the world of the Cresta Run, and to thereby ensure this long-standing winter tradition lives on.
- Minimum age: 18 years
- Men only
- Price: CHF 600 for the first five runs
- Includes helmet, sled, spiked shoes, hand, elbow and knee protection
- Instructions and advice from experienced riders