Kandahar Ski Club
Founded in 1924 by Sir Arnold Lunn
Patron: HRH The Duke of Kent
The Kandahar Ski Club is named after the oldest downhill ski race in the world which, in turn, was named after Field Marshal Earl Roberts of Kandahar (who took his title from the relief of Kandahar). It was founded in 1924 in Mürren by Sir Arnold Lunn and a group of Englishmen.
In those early days the rules for Downhill and Slalom races were being evolved and eventually, in 1931, Sir Arnold organised at Mürren the first World Championships in Downhill and Slalom Racing. He did the same in 1935, these being the only occasions in history when one country has organised the World Championships of any sport on the territory of another country. It was not until 1936 that Downhill and Slalom Racing were admitted to the Winter Olympic Games.
From the very beginning the Kandahar has treated racing as an activity for all members, not just for a specialist elite.
The biggest event for members is "Inferno Week". Every year nearly 200 members gather in Mürren and participate in a number of events on and off the snow, culminating in competing in the longest down hill race in the world, the Inferno. Kandahar organises a slalom and a GS for its members. There is also a Club curling competition and several parties. Members also compete in the international Inferno GS and the Inferno langlauf which takes place round the village on the Wednesday evening.
The Kandahar Ski Club originally organised the Inferno ski race, but soon that responsibility was passed over to the Mürren Ski Club. The first race was held on the 29th January 1928. The race is unique on several fronts; firstly it is the longest downhill in the world at 15.8km with a descent of 2,100m from The Schilthorn to Lauterbrunnen; secondly 1,800 competitors (both amateur and professional) take part in the race. We award the prestigious Roberts of Kandahar Trophy to Club members awarded the "Diamond Devil" for consistently good results in the Inferno.
In 2014 we celebrated our 90th Birthday with a week of races and parties in Mürren.
The photograph shows Club Members at the 90th Birthday Celebrations
The Club was responsible for inaugurating the amateur inter-cub ski championships which is now in its tenth year and regularly has well over 100 participants. See Amateur Inter Club Team Championships.
This year we had 11 Kandahar Teams at AICC in Alpbach
More informal weeks are arranged from time to time where members can enjoy skiing together and hopefully find powder.
Other Kandahar races are run each year, not necessarily in Mürren, including a FIS calendar race, part of the International Masters Calendar Races programme. These races are run annually by, and at the expense of, the Kandahar Ski Club on behalf of the British Ski and Snowboard Federation. See Masters Races for more information.
That the Club has been able to maintain its position in the forefront of British racing is due to the emphasis that it puts on junior training. Kandahar juniors compete with success each year in the British Junior Championships and the BARSC Championships. This is a very important part of the support that Kandahar members give to British ski racing. The picture shows the President presenting an Alpha K badge to Blaise Giezendanner for his performances in international races.
The Kandahar is a private members club open to any competent skier proposed and seconded by current members and approved by the Board. It has an international membership numbering more than 1200 and welcomes new members. It is structured as a limited liability company. It has no paid staff, all its officers and directors give their time and efforts voluntarily. Although the Club owns a clubhouse in Mürren, which is the Club centre, most Board meetings are held in London.
Almost every British ski racer of distinction is, or has been, a member of the Club, which sees itself as a continuing influence on the sport of ski racing, particularly at amateur levels.
Kandahar Ski Club is proud to have 4 members competing in the Olympics or Paralympics in PyeongChang:
- David Ryding representing GB http://www.daverydingski.co.uk/. The picture is courtesy of Vanessa Fry Photography.
- Daniel Yule representing Switzerland, www.danielyule.com/.
- Blaise Giezendanner (see here) representing France.
- James Whitley in the Paralympics where he came 10th in the downhill
- Kelly Gallagher in the Paralympics
- Amanda Pirie who coached medal-winning Paralympians
David, Daniel and James also competed in Sochi 4 years age, along with Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans (guide) and Caroline Powell(guide) in Alpine Disciplines in the Paralympics
We also ahve members competing sucecssfully on the international circuit, notably Cara Brown and Jasmin Taylor.