The Kandahar Men’s Downhill World Cup will make its long-awaited return to les Houches on 8th and 9th February 2020.We couldn’t be more excited to see this iconic event back on valley calendar again after a four-year break. Chamonix is one of only two French locations that appear on the men’s downhill World Cup circuit – the other is Val d’Isère.The backstory to the race’s reappearance is a long one and has involved a massive 10 million-euro investment. The money has been spent on reinventing the legendary black piste on which the Kandahar Cup is raced, “La Verte des Houches”. The starting gate for the event is at 1871 metres and the race covers more than 3.3 kilometres, dropping 870 vertical metres to the finish on the village.
The reconfiguration of piste has been necessary to ensure that the event, which is delivered by Club des Sports Chamonix, meets the latest International Ski Federation (FIS) standards. The great news is that not only does it signal the return of the World Cup Downhill, it also means that alpine slalom events can be added to the calendar too. The hope is that the Kandahar Cup will, once again, become an annual fixture in les Houches. FIS has already announced that the Chamonix valley will host the alpine competition in February 2020, and then both downhill and alpine men-combined events in 2021.Work began on the year-long project in Autumn 2018 and includes some big changes that will also benefit everyone who skis in Les Houches. The restructuring includes lots of tunnels - one tunnel to cross the route de col de Voza, a second tunnel to allow skiers from the Prarion to pass underneath the black slope and eliminate the crossflow with the race piste, and finally doubling the size of the tunnel which crosses the main road close to the finish.Other changes include; terracing to create a piste suitable for parallel slalom, expanding the width of the piste and extending the finish area at the bottom of the run. Lots more snow cannons have been added as well, improving snowmaking in the resort.For everyone visiting during the World Cup event in February 2020 it means that even during the race they can access the non-race pistes with ease.What’s more, you could be part of the spectacle that is the Kandahar Cup if you book a week’s ski holiday with us from 8-15 February 2020. The choice is yours; fully catered or self-catered options are both available. Le Dauphine reported that the funding for the project was provided by the Community Council of Chamonix, the National Centre for the Development of Sport as well as departmental and regional councils.The History of Kandahar RacingMany people wonder how it is that a race that takes place in France is called the Kandahar Cup. This race has a long history that dates back to the creation of the Kandahar Ski Club on 30 January 1924 in Murren’s Palace Hotel, Switzerland. The name goes back to the Roberts of Kandahar Race, the oldest downhill race on record. The cup for which was donated by Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar. Today, Garmisch, St Anton, Sestriere and, happily Les Houches, Chamonix, courses still carry that name.If you’d like to join us for Kandahar World Cup Downhill in February 2020 or even 2021, don’t hesitate to get in touch.