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Austria is steeped in skiing traditions. One such tradition is the annual dedication of a gondola to the winner of the Hahnenkamm Downhill (also known as The Streif) in Kitzbühel. The Hahnenkamm is arguably the most demanding course on the World Cup circuit. Twenty-five years after his first victory, Fritz “The Cat” Strobl finally made it to the ceremony this month.
For those unfamiliar with Strobl, he is a speed event legend. Over his career, he notched nine World Cup victories and 31 podiums, participated in three Olympics, won gold in the downhill in Salt Lake City, and won gold in the Team Event at the World Championships in Åre.
On top of amassing such an impressive series of accomplishments, Strobl is best known for his two victories on The Streif in 1997 and 2000. Fueled by an incalculable combination of intestinal fortitude and all-out skiing, his 1997 run went down at 1.51.58 (an average speed of 66.4mph). This record still stands today, a testament to Strobl’s prowess on skis.
Fritz celebrated his 50th birthday on August 24 and is busy enjoying the good life. It’s worth mentioning that Strobl also has an après musical group, Fritz and the Downhill Gang, which created one of my personal favorite songs to pound schnapps to,“Genie Auf Die Ski.” The song reached number two on the Austrian charts and, unsurprisingly is a tale regaling Strobl’s triumphs on The Streif, skiing pow, and setting up shop at a mid-mountain bar.
Your skiing and style are an inspiration, Fritz. Be well, be well.