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The Cresta Run: 'a man ought to know better'

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Switzerland is the playground of the world and St. Moritz has to be the mecca , and I've tried just about everything they offer. This winter I added one more "notch" to my gun, and it was wild -- it's called the Cresta Run. Now, I've skied the best the country can offer, and it is the best anywhere . . . climbed to the top of the Alps, a wonderment of achievement in anyone's book . . . and taken a spectacular glider flight, soaring at 14,000 feet around the summit of the Matterhorn . . . a balloon flight across the Alps, landing down in a scenic marvel in Italy . . . a breathtaking bobsled run at St. Moritz. But put them aside . . . the Cresta Run beats them all.

This crazy run was designed and built in 1884 by a bunch of Englishmen who were supposedly convalescing in the pure mountain air. The run starts near the Kulm Hotel, where they were staying, and drops down the mountain to the village of Celerina in the valley. The three-quarter-mile ice track runs through a place that used to sit on the side of the mountain called Cresta, thus the name. There are 12 turns, and the 3 worst are in Cresta. The run drops over 500 feet, and speeds are faster than on the bobsled run.

Why did I decided to try this craziness? Ask my grandchildren why they jump all over the furniture and then dive off head first. Their answer is going to be as good as mine. As Paul GAllico, the famous sportswriter, said when he did the Cresta Run, "A man ought to know better," but he kept doing it. There is an attraction to this amateur sport that can only be understood after the first run. The exhilration is tremendous. Today it's one of the big attractions in St. Moritz. The spectators get almost as much of a thrill as the riders. The big turn is called Shuttlecock, and rightly so. Riders fling out of it with the ease of a winged bird.


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