What is the SMTC?
The St Moritz Tobogganing Club is a private Club, founded in 1888, three years after the creation of the Cresta Run. Its principal activities: ”the conduct of races and practice on the Cresta Run and the encouragement of tobogganing generally” take place during the winter season in St Moritz.. It has approximately 1,300 Members from all over the world. Members are elected from applicants who have ridden on the Supplementary List (see below).
What is the Cresta Run?
It is a natural ice run, built from scratch every year with snow which is then iced, as from the inception of the Run in the winter of 1884/85. It starts in St Moritz, winds its way through the hamlet of Cresta and ends in Celerina. It is approximately ¾ mile (1,212 m) in length with a drop of 514 feet (157m). The gradient varies from 1 in 2.8 to 1 in 8.7. There are two starting points, Top and Junction. Riders from Junction begin opposite the Clubhouse, about one-third down the Run from Top. Only experienced riders can qualify to ride from Top.
The Run has 10 corners, all of which are named. The most imfamous is Shuttlecock. (See below)
PLAN & PROFILE OF THE RUN
What is the difference between the Cresta, the Bob, the Luge and Bob-Skeleton?
- On the Cresta Run, the rider goes down by himself on a toboggan in a lying position head-first, using rakes on the end of special boots to brake and steer.
- On Bob Runs, riders go down in pairs or teams of four in a metal capsule on runners. One person steers, another operates the brakes. Riders go down in a seated position.
- The Luge. Riders lie on their backs on toboggan, feet first. They ride on Bob Runs and Luge Runs, both singly and in pairs.
- The Bob-Skeleton. As on the Cresta, individuals ride head-first, on similar toboggans, but without rakes. They ride on Bob Runs. (For further information see the British Bobsleigh Skeleton Association www.bobskeleton.org.uk. Those interested in experiencing the Bob or Bob-Skeleton can do so at Lillehammer, through SYS, the ultimate event company: www.sys-ultimate-events.com. )
Around the world there are about 14 Bob Runs, the oldest and only one made of natural ice in St Moritz, and two natural ice Luge Runs. The last three disciplines tend to be dominated by professionals. There is only one Cresta Run. It is unique and it remains one of the last truly amateur sports.
When is the Cresta Season?
Depending on snow conditions (i.e. whether it has been cold enough to build the Run), the Cresta Run is open in the mornings from just before Christmas until the end of February/early March. At the start of the season riding is only from Junction. Riding from Top starts in mid-January. There are over thirty highly competitive races (Members only) and riding takes place every morning of the week – weather permitting.
What sort of speeds are we talking about?
Only a few riders have broken the 51 second barrier from Top: James Sunley is the current record holder on 50.09 seconds. This means an average speed of over 53 m.p.h (85 k.p.h) ending at Finish at a speed close to 80 m.p.h. (128 k.p.h.) 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 for their first couple of rides.
What is Shuttlecock?
The most famous (or notorious) corner of the Run. This long, low, raking, left-hand bank, about half-way down the Run, acts as a safety-valve; if riders are out of control, they are certain to go out of Shuttlecock into a carefully prepared falling area of snow and straw. Fallers at Shuttlecock automatically become members of the Shuttlecock Club and are entitled to wear a Shuttlecock tie (available from the Shop in the Clubhouse). The average fall:ride ratio is approximately 1:12 although this is higher for Beginners.
What are the risks in riding the Cresta Run?
The whole purpose and challenge of the Run is the exercise of the skill and judgement required to negotiate the corners successfully with the minimum loss of speed and time. Thus the risk of falling, or losing control, is inherent in the sport. Because of this factor and the fact that a rider is travelling fast over an icy surface on an open toboggan, riding the Cresta Run is inherently dangerous. Certain banks are slightly convex and designed so that a rider will fall out of the Run if he is out of control or too fast. Banks on bob and luge runs are concave and people fall within the track. A curling stone sent down a bob run will arrive at the finish , but a curling stone sent down the Cresta Run, whether from Top or Junction, will come out at the first such opportunity. All riders ride because they freely choose to do so, accept the dangers at their own risk and must sign a liability disclaimer before riding.
Can anyone ride the Cresta Run?
Although it is a private Club, it is possible for non-Members to ride. Certain conditions apply:
- Riders must be over 18
- Women are not permitted to ride the Cresta Run.
- Non-members may not ride on race days (generally Saturdays, Sundays and one weekday throughout the season.)
Non-members put their names down on the Supplementary List and become temporary Members for one season as ‘SL Riders’ or ‘SLs’.
How do I get on the Supplementary List and ride?
Provided you fulfil the conditions (i.e. you are a) male, b) over 18) the Run is usually open to riders on the Supplementary List on Practice Days during the week. Beginners receive special treatment, which includes an introductory talk from the Secretary, and instruction from the Club ‘Gurus’ – senior SMTC Members with vast experience of teaching new riders how to ride. It is possible to book a ‘Beginner’s Slot’ on the website.
How much does it cost to ride as an SL?
SL Beginners pay SFr.600 and SLs pay SFr.500 for their first 5 rides and SFr.50 per ride thereafter. SLs under the age of 28 pay SFr.35 per ride after their first five. This includes the equipment (helmet, boots with rakes, handguards, elbow and knee pads and a toboggan) and instruction for Beginners.
SLs must pay for their initial rides when they arrive on their first morning at the Clubhouse. Payment can be made in cash or by major credit card. All SLs must pay for additional rides when they have finished riding on their last day.
What happens on a Beginner’s first day of riding?
Whether a Beginner or an SL rider, riders must be at the Clubhouse at least 45 minutes before the Run opens. Late arrivals will not be allowed to ride.
December: Beginners must arrive by 0745 at the latest. The Run opens at 0830.
January & February: Beginners must arrive at 0715 at the latest. The Run opens at 0800.
- Beginners: check that your name is on the Beginners Riding List and get your riding equipment of helmet, boots, knee and elbow pads and handguards. Complete a registration card. Club Assistants will be in the Dressing Room to help you through this process. Once you have all your kit, take your registration card and cash/credit card, to the Bar area upstairs, to pay and have your details entered on the riding system. You will then have an introductory talk by the Secretary and meet your 'Guru' (Instructor) before riding.
- SLs: Enter your name on the SL Riding List. Get your riding equipment, complete a registration form and go upstairs to the Bar to pay. Depending on where your name is on the SL Riding List, be ready to ride when the Run opens.
What about the second day of riding in a season?
Riders still need to be at the Clubhouse on time. A rider is only a Beginner on his first ever day on the Cresta Run. Subsequently, he is deemed to be an SL rider, and as such all SLs need to enter their names on the SL Riding List legibly and in the same format as that used on the riding system. Riders should collect their riding kit, get ready, and wait for their name to be called to ride when the Run opens.
How long does it take to get 5 rides as an SL?
The Club tries very hard to ensure that Beginners get two, perhaps three, rides on their first day, and then one ride a day during practice riding thereafter. It is recommended that SLs allow at least 3 Practice Days (non-race days during the week) to guarantee five rides. The SMTC is a private Club, and Members have priority. Obviously, if there are not many SLs or Members about, then SLs will get more rides each day, but it is best to err on the side of caution.
What do riders wear?
Fairly tough clothing such as jeans or cords and a warm jacket or thick jersey. If possible, SL riders should bring their own ski-gloves and goggles. The Club provides the rest of the riding equipment.
Do I need an EHIC Card?
All EU Nationals should carry an EHIC card. The card is extremely easy to apply for on-line. This European Commission website page gives links to all the appropriate EU member states' sites. UK residents can apply direct here. The card is not a substitute for travel/accident insurance. It will not cover private medical care, repatriation, helicopter/mountain rescue, theft or loss, to give some examples, but should be used in conjunction with appropriate insurance.
What about insurance?
The Club recommends that all riders arrange their own insurance before coming to St Moritz. It is important to check whether the Cresta Run is covered, as some policies specifically exclude tobogganing or skeleton riding.
Riders of all nationalities may purchase insurance at the Clubhouse. It is made available by the Club for the benefit of those who have arrived at the Cresta without proper insurance, and who do not wish to delay riding while they investigate alternatives. The Club is paid a commission by the insurers for the work involved, but the Club does not act for individuals taking out the insurance, and owes no duty to such individuals. The Club gives no assurances, and makes no representations, as to the merits of the Policy, and has no responsibility to a rider in respect of any uninsured or unpaid claim.
In particular it should be noted:
- It is Accident, not Travel insurance. It will not cover, for example, cancellation, delay, loss/theft of personal baggage etc.
- It will only cover the Cresta Run, Bobsleigh and Skeleton. It will not cover any other winter sport (e.g. ski-ing, snowboarding, ice-skating, lang-lauf, etc).
- It is only available for those aged 16-69. (Those aged 65-69 must pay a double premium).
- All UK riders should carry an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
- In the event of a possible claim, riders must contact the specialist assistance providers prior to incurring costs.
- There are limits both in the period of time allowed for, and the expense of, follow-up treatment once a rider has returned home.
- Standard conditions also apply. (e.g. pre-existing conditions not advised, influence of drugs/alcohol voiding cover, etc)
- The insured rider remains directly liable for any bills which are not paid by the insurers.
To take out insurance at the Clubhouse, see Richard Robbins or Harriet Brabazon when registering.
Photographs and videos
We have an excellent team of still and video cameramen who film riders every morning. The videos of the day’s riding are played in the Bars of the Steffani and Soldanella hotels every evening from about 7 p.m. Individuals may buy copies direct, either in the Clubhouse during riding, or by ordering them through the photographers. They will also provide excellent photographs or compilation clips of the Cresta for journalists. See below for contact details.
What other activities does St Moritz offer?
The St. Moritz Tobogganing Club is proud of its links with the town of St. Moritz. Since 1885 riders have been attracted to this southern corner of the Alps not merely by the Cresta Run but by Swiss hospitality and the myriad attractions and beauty of the Engadin. St. Moritz is more than just a ski-ing resort in the winter (although the area offers 350 Km of pistes). There is plenty to offer non-skiers too: Polo and horse–racing on the lake, curling, the Cresta Run AND the Bob-Run, walks and hikes, ice-skating, museums, spas, concerts& not to mention many fine restaurants
How do I get to St Moritz?
The Club does not act as a travel agent. People travelling from the UK tend to fly to Zurich and then either take the train to St Moritz or hire a car.
Can you recommend an hotel?
St Moritz has many excellent hotels. The regional website www.engadin.stmoritz.ch covers not only St. Moritz, but all the surrounding areas, including Celerina, the ‘charming village’ where the Cresta Run finishes. It gives full details of all activities plus hotels and rental accommodation for the whole valley. More detail can be found on the website at http://www.cresta-run.com/html/links.cfm
The home of the Cresta outside riding hours is the Sunny Bar of the Kulm Hotel. www.sunnybar.ch
+41 (0)76 470 7197 (during the winter season)
Ryan Larraman/Jason Larraman
+64 (0) 221 658 3001
+41 (0)76 470 7197 (winter)