Austria: Birthplace of Downhill Skiing

Often referred to as the birthplace of downhill skiing, Austria is home to some of the world’s most sought-after slopes. Downhill runs frequently end at the doorstep of your hotel. Many of the ski villages date back to the Middle Ages and have preserved their traditional charm and ambience.
Austrian hospitality is legendary and prices are amazingly affordable even in four and five star hotels. A look at the Web site with easy access to the ski villages and resorts will convince even skeptics. Packages offered by American tour operators make a visit to the Austrian
resorts even more convenient and affordable.

Tirol’s capital is an Austrian city at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, which today are examples of the legendary Alpine infrastructure. Well-maintained and snow-free they lead to surrounding resorts as well as to the adjacent countries of Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

Innsbruck, like most Alpine cities and towns has origins dating back millennia. Bronze Age remains were found here as well as traces of occupation by the Illyrian tribes from the East and the Romans.

Visitors to Innsbruck will not want to miss the Golden Roof, a Late Gothic oriel window built 1494 to commemorate the marriage of Emperor Maximilian I to Bianca Maria Sforza, an Italian princess from Milan. The building with the Golden Roof now houses the Olympia Museum. Nearby is one of Innsbruck’s oldest inns, the Goldener Adler, or Golden Eagle, built in the 16th century. The Triumphal Gate is another must-see site among Innsbruck’s attractions. It was built in 1765 by Empress Maria Theresa against the backdrop of the Serles group of mountains south of Innsbruck.

Situated at 575 m / 1,897 ft, Innsbruck has a mild climate, temperature is usually around 20 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, bone-chilling temperatures are practically unknown even at the highest peaks surrounding Innsbruck.

The highest lift-served point is 2,255 m / 7,444 ft above sea level; the vertical drop is 1680 m / 5,547 ft. This descent is certain to gladden the heart of every racer.

South of Innsbruck the beautiful Bergisel Ski Jump, an architectural masterpiece, is to be found. The Olympia Ice Stadium is also located here. Under the 750 m / 2,480 ft Bergisel hill are the road and rail tunnels leading to the Brenner Pass, the quickest link to the Italian Dolomites.

One of the most popular skiing areas southeast of Innsbruck is the ski village of Igls (900 m / 2,950 ft). From here a lift takes you to the rounded summit of the Patscherkofel 2,247 m / 7,375 ft.

Axamer Lizum
Another exciting winter sports area near Innsbruck is Axamer Lizum located at 1,633 m / 5,458 ft, a peak sometimes referred to as Lizum Alp, with its fantastic Olympic runs. It rises above the village of Axams which at 878 m / 2,881 ft is to be found 6 km / 4 miles south of Innsbruck.

St. Anton am Arlberg
Visitors to Innsbruck may not want to miss the opportunity for an excursion to St. Anton am Arlberg. This lovely resort is a member of the “Best of the Alps”, a consortium of classic ski resorts in the Alps. St. Anton is located at 1,304 m / 4,303 ft above sea level in Tirol. For decades this sought-after ski resort has drawn repeat visitors.

The highest lift-served point is 2,811 m / 9,273 ft. The vertical drop is 1,507 m / 4,970 ft. Located at the Arlberg mountain, the skiing region is served by more than 80 cable cars and ski lifts. There are 260 km /160 miles of well-groomed pistes and 185 km / 114 miles of powder runs. St. Anton is often called the cradle of skiing. Today it not only a paradise for skiers but is just as popular with snowboarders.

The Funpark features a Halfpipe that is 40 m / 132 ft long and 17 m / 56 ft wide. It is prepared several times a week by Pipe Dragons, state-of-the-art tracked vehicles. There are 8-10 barriers in the Funpark, 1 Pro Jump, 2 quarter pipes, 1 halfpipe, 1 wash board, 1 table top, 1 side balcony, 1
long jump, but no Boarder-cross. The Rendl area Funpark has slopes for beginners (11 km / 6.7 miles), for advanced (14 km / 8.6 miles) and for experts (3 km / 1. 8 miles).

Among the innovations this winter is a new the 6-seater chair lift with weather hood in the Rendl ski region. It takes you in four minutes to the Gampberg at 2,390 m / 7,839 ft. St. Anton has long been considered a playground for expert skiers, but some of the landscape has been remodeled
so that even less experienced skiers are able to enjoy a wider variety of pistes.

The MEN’S WORLD CUP will take place in St. Anton on February 14 and 15, 2004.
The best skiers in St. Anton will be at the starting line for the slalom and downhill competition.
LADIES WEEK will take place March 20 – 27, 2004. It is also the starting point of Sun Skiing, enjoyed by skiers from around the globe. Many of the international guests enjoy St. Anton’s the wellness center. Please access for details.

For more information on St. Anton am Arlberg, please visit

For more information on Austria’s offerings and events please access – your news source for the travel and tourism industry.

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