It wasn't until
1959 that the 160-kph barrier was smashed and the KL became an annual event
dominated by a Cervinia customs inspector. Luigi di Marco. In 1963 two American
daredevils, C. B. Vaughan and Dick Dorworth, set a record of 171.428 kph at
Portillo. Chile. At this stage the Cervinia race still had a homemade,
do-or-die quality about it, but in 1970, when the Japanese came to Cervinia,
the KL was set on its present technological footing. After a two-year study of
the terrain, during which 20 pairs of skis were broken in various falls, the
Japanese computers came up with the right formula and Moroshita Masaru from
Hokkaido set a record of 183.393 kph on a pair of Kazamas.
countered with an all-out effort, but it was pure chance that the then unknown
McKinney, a passing California hippie, got the right pair of skis for his
record-breaking 1974 run. He borrowed them from Alessandro Casse after the
Italian champion retired, too shaken by B�guelin's death to go on.
Now the KL is like
a trade fair. The racers' helmets are festooned with brand names.
Energizing-drink firms, bindings, ski and sportswear manufacturers, motorcar
and airline companies are all in on the action.
But it still takes
a very special kind of man. Paul Buschmann, a 20-year-old carpenter from
Burbank, Calif., fell in the compression in the final stages of this year's
competition. He seemed to somersault forever before bumping to a stop. At the
second attempt he managed to get up. He steered a shaky course to the ski lift.
"It was good it happened because it showed me you can fall and not hurt
yourself," he said before riding up for another descent. "I'll do
better next time." He finished fifth.