The Swiss resort of Mürren is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first slalom race held there on 21 January 1922. British skier Sir Arnold Lunn campaigned for the recognition of the new sport and helped the village, in the heart of the Bernese Oberland’s Jungfrau Region, to become the cradle of Alpine ski racing.
Today more than 1,800 skiers from all over the world gather for the famous Inferno Race each year. On 17 January 2022, some famous skiers will participate in a ceremonial race down the original slalom piste.
Several of the competitors in the Inferno will be members of the Kandahar Ski Club which Sir Arnold Lunn also played a part in forming.
He and a group of British skiers founded the club on 30 January 1924 with the purpose of promoting downhill and slalom racing at a time when Alpine skiing competitions were not recognised internationally.
Sir Arnold helped organise the first British national ski championship in 1921 and these included a national slalom race as well as jumping and cross-country. But slalom races at that time were decided on style.
Therefore, the following year he organised a version designed to test a skier’s ability to turn securely and rapidly on steep Alpine ground in the fastest time.
Prior to the Kandahar Club, Sir Arnold had already founded the Alpine Ski Club in 1908 and the Ladies Ski Club in 1923.
He helped organise many ski races around the world and also assisted in the campaign to have Downhill and Slalom races included at the 1936 Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany when his son, Peter, was the captain of the British ski team.
In 1952 Sir Arnold was knighted for ‘Services to British Skiing and Anglo-Swiss relations’.
He died in 1974 but his place in history lives on in the Swiss resort through a memorial stone with an inscription which says: ‘It was here in Mürren that Arnold Lunn set the first slalom in 1922 and organised the first world championship in downhill and slalom racing in 1931.”