Switzerland’s Exclusive Escapes
If you love polo or horse racing, brace yourself for one of the most glamorous and prestigious winter events in the world, The White Turf. The history of this unusual sport dates back to just 1906 when a couple of enterprising enthusiasts invented a new sport called skijoring, it has since become known as one of Switzerland’s most exclusive escapes.
Over 100 years old, the White Turf is a winter horse racing event held on the frozen surface of the St. Moritz Lake in the Swiss Alps. The event is held right where the sport originated, in the Engadine valley in Switzerland. Nowhere else in the world do thoroughbred horses regularly compete without riders on their backs but with skiers in tow. As riders hang on for their life, horses gallop through swamps to the frozen lake at 30 miles per hour to compete an almost 2 mile long course. Ever since skijoring was transferred to the racecourse, it has been run in a group, horse against horse, skier against skier, demanding a great deal of skiing prowess on the part of the athletes, as well as firm control of the horses. Throughout the years, modifications have been made to ensure safety and organization. The equipment for this dangerous sport has been standardized over time, requiring skiers to wear colored skiis and to undergo a series of stringent testing to ensure a considerable amount of strength, athleticism, balance, instinct and toughness.
The event attracts over 35,000 visitors a year. A dazzling tent is raised above the frozen lake, covering an area of about 430,000 square feet. In anticipation of the crowds and visitors, a diverse array of entertainment is offered from gourmet catering, inspiring art shows and live band performances. The races are held on Sunday’s for the first three weeks of February. The races are divided into three categories: harness races, gallop races and the world exclusive skijoring race. The skijoring race is the ultimate highlight of the event with the prestigious prize of $137,450. With an elevation of 6,000 feet, the track is one of the flattest and highest in Europe. The event is as spectacular as it is beautiful, taking place in the winter sunshine on the frozen lake among the stunning snow-capped mountains of St Moritz. During those few weeks the area buzzes with event galas, side parties and has garnered global appeal from glamorous celebrities, politicians and wealthy elite enjoying the festivities.
If you have a passion for racing or just want to spend an unforgettable day in spectacular winter surroundings, join this unique, exclusive, top-class event. Visitors will have plenty of opportunities to attend exclusive events, socialize with the elite, win holiday prizes such as stays in luxury hotels in tropical islands and of course, admire one of the most unique and rare sports in the world! Watching the races has been described as looking out onto a dream and this glamorous experience cannot be found anywhere else in the entire globe!
By Kate Jorosinska
*Photos provided by swiss-image.ch