Background Information on the Cresta Run
The Cresta is an ice run, three quarters of a mile long, that winds its way from above the 'Leaning Tower' in St Moritz down a steep gully through ten testing corners, past the tiny hamlet of Cresta, to the village of Celerina. The total drop is 514 ft and the gradient varies from 1 in 2.8 to 1 in 8.7.
The first Run was completed in January 1885 and took nearly nine weeks to build. Only the three upper banks received detailed work . The Cresta Run 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.
The Cresta usually opens two or three days before Christmas and continues for nine weeks until the end of February. There are over thirty highly competitive races and riding takes place every morning of the week. It is a private club, but non-Members are welcome to come and ride (See SL Membership )
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. Mrs Marjory Pope, a senior Member of the Club, was one of the last ladies to ride in practice.
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. Nowadays the best riders' toboggans have no sliding seats.
The Cresta has two starting points: Top and Junction. The current record from Top is 50.09 seconds, held by James Sunley. This means an average speed of over 53 m.p.h. ending at Finish at a speed close to 80 m.p.h. Riders from Junction begin opposite the Clubhouse, about one-third down the Run from Top. The current record from Junction, held by Johannes Badrutt, is 41.02 seconds.
Beginners start from Junction and are encouraged to go down in a time of between 65 and 75 seconds. Riders brake using the rakes on their boots and if they are out of control they are certain to go out at Shuttlecock, the most famous corner of the Run. Fallers at Shuttlecock automatically become members of the Shuttlecock Club and are entitled to wear a Shuttlecock tie.
Although a private club, the SMTC, with its world-wide membership, has always enjoyed a strong partnership with the town and people of St Moritz. The lure and excitement of this, now one of the last amateur sports has always fascinated and always will. The first Lord Brabazon of Tara once wrote: "The Cresta is like a woman with this cynical difference - to love her once is to love her always."