The best skiers of the world, one of the most suggestive and challenging slopes surrounded by the Dolomites and an enthusiastic audience of ski fans: all the ingredients for a great show are given.

The Ski World Cup race in Alta Badia is a classic and the most popular race of the international alpine skiing world. Every year sports fans from all over the world meet in Alta Badia to support the athletes a few days before Christmas.

Since 1985 the Gran Risa has been the place where exciting challenges and races full of adrenaline occur and where the best athletes compete to win. All this was possible thanks to the engagement of the organizers, who wanted and were able to make out of this stage a highlight of the international tour in alpine skiing. Actually, the history of the Gran Risa with more than thirty exciting years, has its beginnings already before 1966, as Erich Kostner tells us.

The Gran Risa slope has its beginnings on 3rd November 1966, only one day before South Tyrol was hit by a disastrous flood. On 3rd November 1966, my counterpart Alessandro Canins and I finished the works on the Gran Risa, the slope which would have become the new major attraction for everyone visiting our ski area. The local construction company Kofler located some excavators and the machinery in the finish area of the slope. After the last inspection of the slope, they decided to leave the machinery there for a few more days in order to complete works in a perfect way. Only the next day, Val Badia road was surprisingly hit by a flood, causing interruptions and many drawbacks on 60 parts of the street. The opening of the winter season was put at risk, as Val Badia was not reachable from Brunico. By working day and night, the local workers, supported by the armed forces, were able to ensure the access to Val Badia through Val Badia road for the Christmas period.

Fortunately, the flood did not really affect the still clay-rich track and the slope did not move at all. You can imagine the concern of our cableway society when thinking of a possible landslide on the slope, after months of hard work and continuous moving of the machinery.
If translated literally to English, Gran Risa means “the great split”. In history, a split in the forest was used from local people for the timber transport during the cold winter season. Through the split, they were able to transport the timber from the top of the hill down to their houses, in order to heat their homes during the coldest months of the year.

After this brief anecdote, I would like to move to 1984, almost 20 years later. In that year, the FIS gave us the opportunity to test the suitability of the Altin course, near to the Gran Risa slope, for an eventual participation in the Ski World Cup. The test super-G race was won by the young Zurbriggen. We had to choose between a super-G competition on the Altin course or a giant slalom competition on the Gran Risa. Nontheless, there was no doubt about the technical superiority of the Gran Risa and about its best logistic predisposition in the finish zone. This is why my friend and co-worker Gianni Marzola and I flew to Vancouver in spring to the Ski World Cup Congress. At that time, Serge Lang was at the head of the congress, while Marc Hodler was the president of the FIS. As I had created the Dolomiti Superski with Gianni Marzola, who was the president of the FISI in South Tyrol and a member of the Organizing Committee of the Ski World Cup in the nearby Val Gardena, I asked him and Erich Demetz, who was the president of the Organizing Committee and had a good relationship with the FIS, for their support in proposing Alta Badia as a possible Ski World Cup location. After some very intensive days and thanks to the support of everyone, I came back to Alta Badia with a positive answer from Vancouver and with a giant slalom race to organize.

Now I can say that the giant slalom race was certainly a success and is remembered for the eightieth Ski World Cup victory of Stenmark. The race was set on a very risky date, as there was not yet the possibility to make snow artificially, in order to ensure the snow and consequently the whole event. However, our goal was to communicate to the whole world the opening of our ski area already at the start of the season, in order to increase reservations during the whole winter season. The success of the event was confirmed by the boom in reservations, which doubled in only three years of time.

The following years were marked by various victories of the Italian team, from Roberto Erlacher coming from our town, to the victory of the well-known Italian athletes Tomba, Simoncelli, Blardone and Nana. Alta Badia was able to stand out for having introduced the first entertainment area in the finish zone of the race, as well as for the organization of gourmet side events on the weekend. Now, I am glad to celebrate this first 30 years of Ski World Cup with the Organization Committee and with all the local voluntaries, who have worked with continuing engagement and constancy for this major event.

Gran Risa you are great, and you gave us and will always give us great satisfactions!