Ski & Snowboard
The Origins of the Cresta Run
The origins of the Cresta Run can be traced back to a famous 1864 bet. It was Johannes Badrutt, the owner of the Kulm Hotel who dangled the lure of constant sunshine and champagne air in the winter instead of the dreary, foggy misery of Britain, and who offered free accommodation for his British guests at the Kulm for the whole winter. The bet stated that if the weather was not as predicted then he would repay the cost of their return fares. He won the bet and the Alpine winter season was born in 1864.
All these visitors needed to occupy their time and tobogganing on wooden ‘schlittli’ became very popular. For the competition between Davos and St. Moritz in 1885 George Robertson, an Australian, and 4 Englishmen staying at the Kulm that autumn, staked out the course from above the Kulm Hotel down to Cresta and Celerina. Building the Run took 9 weeks and would not have been possible without the labour, equipment and expenses provided by Peter Badrutt, son of Johannes, who was now running the hotel. The Davos team was victorious, to the bitter disappointment of the St. Moritz team of Robertson, 5 Englishmen and 4 local men but the celebrations were enthusiastic, the event was a great success and the Cresta Run was born.
The Cresta Run today follows the same line and although innovation has been constant throughout its history the Run in 1885 and the Run next season are recognisably the same. It is still built by hand, although hoses are now used to ice the Run instead of the tedious business of carrying buckets of water. Schlittli gave way to the America toboggan; then the ‘traditional’ with the sliding seat; and now flat‐top toboggans, using the most modern materials. A chronometer replaced stopwatches and flags in 1896, followed in 1910 by a clock capable of accuracy to a tenth of a second. Timing is now electronic to within hundredths of a second. A 4-wheel drive camion to bring toboggans and riders back to the start has replaced manpower and then a horse and cart. The original 16 Clubhouse, a cricket pavilion from Boulton & Paul of Norwich, was replaced by the Cresta Clubhouse in the 1960s, and the wooden Junction Hut, for toboggan storage, in 1999. Peripherals may have altered but the Run remains constant.
The history of the last 125 years is really the history of disparate individuals of many nationalities and backgrounds discovering the Cresta and becoming captivated by and addicted to this ribbon of ice.
Some of this passion is undoubtedly bound up by the Run’s location.
05.12.2014 - 06.04.2015