The Cresta is a ¾ mile long ice run that winds its way from above the “Leaning Tower” in St Moritz down a steep gully through 10 testing corners, past the tiny hamlet of Cresta to the village of Celerina. The total drop is 514 feet 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 9 weeks to build. 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 just before Christmas and continues for 9 weeks until the end of February. There are over 30 competitive races and riding takes place every morning.
The Cresta has two starting points – Top and Junction. Only four riders have broken the 51 second barrier from Top, which gives an average speed of over 53 mph, ending at Finish at a speed close to 80 mph. The record from Junction is 41.27 seconds although beginners, who also start from Junction, are encouraged to aim for 65 -70 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.
From its very beginnings the St Moritz Tobogganing Club has been a partnership between the people of St Moritz and the British, although members of the Club come from all over the world. The lure and excitement of the Run 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”.
- 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.
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. Click here to visit their website.