Witness horned sledge races in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Hornschlitten are those handsome old-fashioned sleds with runners that curl upward at the front. Once used to transport wood and hay in the German Alps, they have a new use in modern times: an object for racing down a snow-covered track at speeds in excess of 55 miles per hour.

Each year on the occasion of Three Kings’ Day on Jan. 6, teams made up of four racers each compete to achieve the fastest time down the Hoher Weg, a steep kilometer long run near the Olympic Ski Stadium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The race, officially known as “Bayerische Meisterschaft Hornschlittenrennen,” is the largest of its kind, with some seventy teams competing in a typical year. Last year’s race attracted some 5000 spectators.

Teams can achieve speeds of around 55 miles per hour, and harrowing spills are not uncommon. As the sleds have no brakes, stopping is done by foot, and it’s not uncommon for viewers to get to witness some pretty hair-raising spills.

This year’s edition of the races is special in that it celebrates its 50th-anniversary edition this year.

Races get underway at 12:30 p.m. Entry for spectators costs 8 euros for adults, 5 euros for ages 13-18, and is free for those under the age of 12. Download a pdf copy of the event’s brochure online. 

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