Zermatt is nestled between the peaks of the Monte Rosa and the world famous Matterhorn, renowned for its extensive and varied piste network and as a backcountry mecca. Zermatt is regularly voted as one of, if not the, top ski resorts in the world. The resort has the highest skiing in Europe at an altitude of 3,804m. The ski area comprises of five different areas; The Rothorn paradise, Gornergrat, the Schwarsee paradise and the Matterhorn glacier paradise areas, the latter which connects with the Italian areas of Breuil-Cervinia, Valtournenche and Val D’Aosta. The “local” lift pass covers the four Zermatt areas and the international pass the whole area including Italy. The lift network is the most modern system in Europe and has 54 lift installations, over 360km of pistes (84 marked runs on the Swiss side alone) and numerous off-piste itineraries that are patrolled for the more experienced skiers and snowboarders.
Over 60% of the runs are either on glacier or have snow making capabilities this, combined with the extensive glaciation, allow for skiing 365 days of the year which means that Zermatt is a guaranteed snow sure destination.
Zermatt also hosts the World Cup Downhill. The course, which starts at Gobba di Rollin is 3,800 metres above sea level and finishes at 2,865 metres above sea level, was designed by Didier Défago, 2010 Olympic downhill champion. Covering 935 metres of altitude over four kilometres, the maximum speed is around 135 km/h. All the athletes will tackle the same piste, with the women’s start slightly below the men’s.
As the new 3S cable car from Testa Grigia to the Klein Matterhorn, which will connect Cervinia and Zermatt all year round, is where the race starts, the finish is at Cime Bianche, Cervinia, Italy, the only World Cup Race in history to cross a border!
The name “Gran Becca”
In Valtournenche, Italy, the Matterhorn is often referred to as “Gran Becca” – the big peak – in the local dialect. The shape of the “Gran Becca” will be visible on the entire race course and will stay with the athletes all the way to the finish in Laghi Cime Bianche. The name of the new race course is a reminder of the affection the residents of Valtournenche have developed for the Matterhorn over decades.