By Ruben Sprich and Pascal Lauener
The Lauberhorn, the world’s longest men’s alpine skiing World Cup downhill race, boasts 50 start gates at a 2315 meter altitude on the Lauberhorn in front of the Eiger North Face, the Moench and the Jungfrau with the Top of Europe, and ends 4415 meters later in Wengen at a 1287 meter altitude. Wengen is a small village in the Lauterbrunnen valley near Interlaken in the Bernese Overland.
I remember in 1986 when I covered the Lauberhorn for my first time. We carried the 60 kg heavy black and white laboratory and the transmitter in a big box from Lauterbrunnen in the train up to Wengen and set up in the bathroom of our hotel in Wengen. This was in addition to our skies, boots, clothes and cameras. Much more heavy was our luggage with our color laboratory in the 90s.
For several years now we have stayed at a hotel on the Kleine Scheidegg, the Bellevue des Alpes, located at 2061 meters, which is between Wengen and the Lauberhorn. Since 1999 we’ve used digital cameras. In the 80s and 90s after the race we rushed back to our hotel to start developing film, choose the pictures and make prints, writing captions on a small Hermes baby typewriter, and transmitting our pictures to Zurich or London. This year Bern based staff photographer Pascal Lauener and myself covered the races using our Paneikon software which transmits the pictures instantly after each racer to our server in Vienna where our Editor Michael Leckel edited and processed the pictures we sent in. Minutes later our clients around the world get the pictures in their systems.
Covering the Lauberhorn 25 times is special. I remember in 1986 when we shot the legendary Hundschopf jump with a 180mm lens right next to the racers. These days we have to be far away due to security and use a 500mm, 600mm or 800mm lens. This year Pascal went early to Wengen to get all the accreditation and bibs to enter the course. I had to do some work in the Bern office and a news conference with our Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann. I decided to go on the other side of the Kleine Scheidegg, to Grindelwald and catch the cog railway up, as we would have a better chance for parking.
Up on the Scheidegg it was already minus 12 degrees and the weather after a blue sky day was getting worst with the start of snow. Thursday the training run was cancelled due to too much fresh snow on the slope. Friday we had the Super Combined men’s race which I shot at the Mintschkante jump a bit down of the Hundschopf from outside, with the temperature minus 17 degrees and windy.