The Alpine Ski World Cup Kicks Off in Sölden
Updated: Nov 15
The 2023-2024 Alpine Ski World Cup season is just around the corner. After months of waiting, the skiing circus will be back in October 28. Sölden (Tirol, Austria) again will host the first Races of the season. Every year, the Women's Giant Slalom opens the new World Cup, followed by the men on Sunday.
Sölden celebrates 30 years of the Alpine Ski World Cup Season Opener on the Rettenbach Glacier! It promises to be a spectacular weekend of races, anniversary celebrations, and an exciting lineup of events throughout Sölden.
After the premiere in 1993 it was decided that Sölden would alternate with Saas-Fee and Tignes as the venue for the opening of the Alpine Skiing World Cup. Saas-Fee, who had organized a Slalom and a Giant Slalom in January 1988, decided to give up organizing another World Cup event. Tignes (1995, 1997, and 1999) and Sölden (1996, and 1998) alternated until Tignes' step down.
Jack Falkner played a crucial role in hosting the World Cup opening in Sölden. More than 20 years ago there was skepticism about a glacier race, but Falkner, the long-time OC president, forged strategic alliances with the glacier ski areas of Saas-Fee and Zermatt. The idea was if these glaciers are good enough for pre-season training, why not for a World Cup race? Falkner convinced teams and supervisors, became an ambassador for Sölden and conducted tireless discussions. At the same time, various races were held in Sölden to increase visibility. In 1990, Sölden was finally awarded a race, and the World Cup opening has been an annual highlight there since 2000.
The races of the Alpine Ski World Cup Season Opener Sölden will be held on 28 and 29 October. The FIS Women's and Men's Alpine Ski World Cup is held for the 26th time in the Tyrolean ski resort.
Alpine Ski World Cup Season Opener Program:
10:00 CET 1st run Women‘s Giant Slalom
13:00 CET 2nd run Women‘s Giant Slalom
10:00 CET 1st run Men‘s Giant Slalom
13:00 CET 2nd run Men‘s Giant Slalom
Sölden offers the marvelous BIG 3, Austria's only ski area with 3 mountains higher than 3,000 meters which are accessible by lifts. From November through May, thanks to the ski area's high-Alpine location (1,350 - 3,250 m) and the modern snowmaking system (covering all slopes lower than 2,200 m) snow is guaranteed in Sölden.
Bergbahnen Sölden rank among the leading mountain lift companies in the Alps and are one of the largest employers in the Tirolean Oberland region.
The cable car company owns and operates the 31 lifts in the Sölden ski area, 6 mountain restaurants (including the ice Q gourmet restaurant at 3048 m. in the Gaislachkogl summit), as well as the 5* Hotel Das Central in Sölden, and the Rastland Nassereith.
In 2023 the cable car company celebrates its 75th anniversary. Sölden has changed a lot between the first one-person chairlift in Hochsölden in 1948 and the ultramodern James Bond Adventure World in 2018.
With a surface covering more than 20 km² and 34.5 km of pistes, Sölden's glacier ski area ranks among the largest in Tirol and all of Austria. Located between 2675 and 3250 meters, the scenic mountain ski areas of Rettenbach and Tiefenbachferner are connected by a ski tunnel.
Eight modern mountain lifts take skiers up the glacier ski mountains. The base lift stations at the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach Glaciers can be also easily reached by car or bus via the highest Panoramic Road in the Eastern Alps.
On spectacular bends and steep ascents, you will quickly gain altitude on this connecting toll road (free of charge with a valid ski pass). An average gradient of 11% awaits drivers on the 13 km-long route to Rettenbach Glacier. If you also want to visit Tiefenbach Glacier you have to cross the mountain through Europe's highest road tunnel (1,8 km), passing also the highest point of the glacier road (2830 m).
Updated October 19, 2023
Today, after the official snow control on the Rettenbachglacier racecourse, FIS race directors Markus Mayr (FIS Race Director Women's Technical) and Janez Hladnik (FIS Race Director Men's Technical) gave the green light for the start of the Alpine Giant Slalom Alpine Ski World Cup races on October 28th and 29th.
"The situation we have found is excellent, and the organisers have done a tremendous job. There is still work to be done, but we will have a successful race weekend by working together" said Markus Mayer.
"Despite the prolonged and above-average temperatures, our team managed to perfectly prepare the World Cup slope on time. We are looking forward to the 30th anniversary and see ourselves as confirmed in our work", said OC boss Jakob Falkner to the ORF.
Ski Austria General Secretary Christian Scherer said ORF: "The start of the World Cup in Sölden not only has a sporting component, it is the first strong signal of the winter and has great economic importance for the ski industry, for winter tourism and therefore for the whole of Austria".