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Where it all began: Mürren 1931

Jun 12, 2024·FIS 100
Esmé MacKinnon
Esmé MacKinnon

There are just over 200 days to go until the 2025 Ski World Championships in Saalbach, an FIS event series that is almost as old as the federation itself. The first World Championships were staged in Mürren, Switzerland, in 1931, 93 years ago. The foundations were laid a year earlier at the Congress in Oslo, when the international regulation of downhill and slalom skiing began. Even the Scandinavian countries, which had been sceptical, were in agreement. And so the great story of Alpine skiing began in earnest.

Between 20 and 23 February 1931, four official races were held - downhill and slalom for men and women - in which 30 male and 20 female athletes from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Norway and Australia took part.

It was the world championships for Walter Prager (downhill) and David Zogg (slalom) from Switzerland and Esmé MacKinnon from Great Britain, who celebrated two successes. As the races suffered from capricious weather, the titles in the Alpine Combined were not awarded; and the "long downhill" was not declared a World Championship race.

Things were rather different back then, as illustrated by the interruption of one of the races by a funeral procession, forcing  MacKinnon to stop on the long descent and let the mourners pass (her time was corrected afterwards).

Though the term "world championships" has only been used officially since 1937, Prager, Zogg and MacKinnon are indisputably the first title winners – and remain on a par with the big names that have shaped the history of FIS.