History of the Club
The first Cresta Run was completed in January 1885 and took nearly nine weeks to build. Since its inception it has been, and remains, the most thrilling ice run in the world. It is still built from scratch every year using the natural contours of the valley and earth banks to provide a framework on which to pile the snow. The Run from Junction is built first, the upper banks second. It has 10 testing corners, all of which are named.
The First Rider
The first rider to adopt the now traditional head-first position was Mr Cornish in the 1887 Grand National. He finished fourteenth after three erratic rides, but established a trend and by the 1890 Grand National all competitors were riding head first.
Mrs J.M. Baguley was the last lady to ride the Cresta in a race on 13th January 1925. Ladies rode in practice after that date, but were banned from riding on 6th January 1929.
Toboggans have evolved dramatically from the original Swiss Schlitten, starting with the introduction of the 'America' by Mr L.P. Child in 1887. This form of skeleton toboggan with metal runners was further refined by Mr Arden Bott in 1902, who added the sliding seat. This helped the rider move his weight backwards or forwards on the toboggan. Although all riders still learn to ride on these Traditional toboggans, the best riders' toboggans are nowadays made of modern composite materials, have no sliding seats and are known as Flat Tops.
Building the Run
The first Cresta Run was built in the winter of 1884/85 by five guests who formed the outdoor amusements committee of the Kulm Hotel. Their original intention was that St Moritz should provide an event to compete with the International Toboggan Race organized by Davos am Platz and to return the hospitality shown by their neighbours in previous years.
Since the very beginning, the construction of the Cresta Run to the approval of the SMTC Committee has relied on the skills of families of local master builders. Before the last war, the Run had been built for some 40 years by the Italian Benzoni and his son. After that the Run was built by the Brantschen family, the father succeeded by his son Christian, whose company is now owned by the Seiler Group. The Brantschens have both ridden the Cresta, father winning the Coppa d’Italia Cup in 1956 and son Christian the Beatrice Cartwright Cup in 1978.
The builders do a truly amazing job, not only constructing the Run in December and early January but also maintaining it throughout the season - working from the early hours of the morning in preparation for the day’s riding. There is a member of the construction team helping and keeping watch at the start, finish and all major banks during riding. In recognition of their vital work, skill and dedication, Christian Brantschen and his senior foreman, Natalino Bera, have both been elected Honorary Members of the SMTC.
The Classic Races
The first race on the Cresta against Davos, named the Grand National, was held on 16th February 1885. The 100th Grand National was held on 13th February 2010.
The four major classic Cresta Races are for the Curzon Cup (1910), the Morgan Cup (1935), the Brabazon Trophy (1966) and the Grand National (1885), the original and most prestigious of the many Cresta trophies. The winner of these four Races in the same Season is designated as the Winner of the Grand Slam, which has been achieved on 12 occasions since 1972.
The ambition of every rider is to be awarded his Club Colours. These are gold and scarlet which can be worn on a tie, scarf, cap and a sweater. Colours were first awarded to the eight riders chosen to represent St Moritz in the Davos International Race. It has become the practice to award Club Colours to the first eight riders to compete in these major races.
The Blue Riband of the Handicap races is the Bott Cup (1905). The Bott family can claim the distinction of having 6 generations of Cresta riders.