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Speed Skiing: Launched Kilometre and its Competition

Speed Skiing: Launched Kilometre and its Competition

Speed skiing, also known as Kilometre Launched (KL), is an extreme discipline that challenges the limits of speed on snow. In this blog, we will explore the key aspects of this exciting competition, from its beginnings to the next World Cup to be held in Andorra in March 2024.


History and Early Competitions

The first documented reference to a speed skiing competition dates back to 1930 in Saint-Moritz, Switzerland. In this event, Gustav Lantschner distinguished himself by reaching a speed of 105.68 km/h (105.68 mph). Since then, speed skiing has evolved considerably, becoming one of the fastest non-motorised sports.


Records and Landmark Slopes

Current speed records are astounding, with records exceeding 247 km/h in the women's category and 255 km/h in the men's category. The fastest track in the world is located in Vars, France. Historically, the French resorts of Les Arcs and Vars have been the scene of numerous records.


Competition Dynamics and Specialised Equipment

In a speed skiing competition, the skier's strategy is crucial. The aim is to accelerate as fast as possible on the long acceleration part of the slope, while maintaining an aerodynamic position. Speed is measured in the last 100 metres of the downhill. Latex or polyurethane suits, together with aerodynamic helmets, are essential to reduce air resistance.

Skiers use special skis with specific dimensions and weights, as well as bent poles to adapt to the body and optimise aerodynamics.



Curiosities of Speed Skiing: Beyond the Adrenaline Rush

Diving into the fascinating world of speed skiing, we discover a series of curiosities that add a unique nuance to this extreme sport.


Speed records: Ivan Origone and Ricardo Adarraga

Speed skiing holds the title of being the fastest non-motorised sport in the world. The global record is held by Simon Billy, who reached an impressive 255,500 km/h in 2023. In Spain, the record belongs to Ricardo Adarraga, who reached 240.642 km/h.


Lightning Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 4.5 Seconds

The acceleration in speed skiing is comparable to that of a MotoGP or Formula 1 car, as skiers manage to reach 0-100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds.


Historical Dominance: Simone Origone

Simone Origone, a legend in the sport, has demonstrated dominance on a par with iconic figures such as Valentino Rossi, Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods and Miguel Indurain. Origone has broken the world record three times, won nine World Cups, won five FIS world titles and holds eight World Pro titles.


Speed Elite: Few Exceed 250km/h

Only seven athletes have broken the 250 km/h barrier, including Ivan Origone, Simone Origone, Simon Billy, Philippe Goitschel, Bastien Montes, Jonathan Moret and Philippe May.


Simone Origone: Master of Speed

Simone Origone stands out as the only skier to have exceeded 250 km/h five times. His brother Ivan and Frenchman Bastien Montes follow with two times each.


Snow Impact: A Determinant of Speed

Although aerodynamics account for 90% of the drag during a downhill run, the consistency of the snow plays a crucial role. A notable example is skier Bastien Montes, who recorded 233 km/h in fresh snow and 250 km/h in spring snow in 2017.


Unwritten Rule: Safety in Speed Skiing

There is an unwritten rule in speed skiing: there are two types of skiers, those who have experienced crashes and those who will experience crashes. Fortunately, accidents rarely have serious consequences, being mostly limited to burns due to friction with the snow.


Exhibition Sport in 1992: A Historic Hit

Speed skiing was introduced as an exhibition sport in 1992, and on that occasion the world record was broken with a speed of 229 km/h.


Speed Limits: No Aids, Less than 210 km/h

Without aerodynamic aids such as spoilers or special helmets, and with non-specialised suits, it would be virtually impossible to exceed 210 km/h in speed skiing.


Circuit Veterans: Simone Origone and Ricardo Adarraga

Simone Origone and Ricardo Adarraga share the honour of having the most FIS World Championship appearances, each with impressive consistency. Together with Philippe May and Antonio Renaldo, they form the group of the four most veteran riders on the KL circuit.


Origin of the name: Launched Kilometre

The origin of the name comes from the way the Italians used to call it on the famous Cervinia track. However, the length of the tracks does not necessarily have to be 1 kilometre, as it is variable and what is taken into account is the potential gradient of the track.


World Cup Launched Kilometre 2024 in Andorra

From 12 to 14 March 2024, Andorra will be the epicentre of speed skiing excitement. The Riberal piste, in the Grau Roig sector of Grandvalira, will host two events of the Launch Kilometre World Cup. This piste, with a length of 900 metres, 200 metres of vertical drop, and a maximum gradient of 74%, has earned its reputation as a spectacular venue for this competition.

The best runners in the discipline will take part in these events, seeking both victory and to beat the track's speed record, currently held by Swiss Philippe May with 199.56 km/h since 2017.

This event promises to be a unique experience for lovers of skiing and extreme speed. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the magic of speed skiing in beautiful Andorra.