The Cresta Run

Thursday, November 4, 2010 9:41 PM

Here's a few photos taken at the Grand National event of February 14th, 1998 in St. Moritz. The man in black is Clifton Wrottesley, a young British Lord, who has been called the greatest Cresta rider of the modern era. He was up all night drinking, and never made it to bed. He lost the race, which consisted of three courses, but he recorded the fastest individual time that day at 50.74 seconds on his last try. He held the record from Top in 1998: 50.23 seconds.

The fastest time in 1905 was 59.7 seconds. The approximate distance of the course is 3/4 of a mile. The total drop is 514 feet from “Top” to the finish line in Celerina. The annual report of the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club for 1997-1998 noted, tongue-in-cheek, that Clifton decided "to do without sleep so that he could maintain his fluid intake...." for the morning of the Grand National.

From my essay, The Cresta Run: “The Run commences at ‘Top’, which is up the hill from the concrete bunker of a clubhouse. But only the experienced riders are allowed to start there. It gets steep rather quickly, with some bone-chilling banks or turns--especially ‘Thoma’--prior to passing the Clubhouse. I witnessed some spectacular crackups at Thoma.” As of February 2010, the speed record from Top was 50.09 seconds.