History of DHO racing
The Downhill Only Club (DHO) was founded in Wengen, in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, in 1925. Downhill Only – because Wengen already possessed uphill transport – the cog railway from the valley in Lauterbrunnen and up to Scheidegg was built early in the century – and when member of the one-year-old Kandahar Club from Mürren across the valley challenged the English population in Wengen to a ski race, the Wengeners pinned bibs on their chests with the large letters D H O. The DHO was born.
The Club was founded to promote skiing and foster international friendship in the Wengen area, and many of the founder members were accomplished ski racers and competed before the war in what are now major competitions – the Lauberhorn Downhill, World Championships, even the Olympics.
Serious race training for young skiers was started in 1952. The first trainer was Werner Stäger, a famous, local mountaineer and ski racer, who is best known for his brave effort to retrieve the body of one of the two Italian climbers who fell to their deaths on the Eiger wall and who had been hanging there for many years for all to see. Ros Hepworth was the first manager. She continued until her death in 1977 and was awarded the MBE for her services to ski racing. Ros rented a chalet in the valley throughout the winter and travelled round the Alps in her little mini van scouring the English schools in Switzerland for talent. Since then more British Olympic skiers have started their racing career with the DHO than with any other of the Alpine Clubs.
The club employs a mix of UK and foreign coaches, and they often stay with the club for many years. They recommend other qualified coaches and thus a very high and uninterrupted standard is maintained. For years DHOracing has had a justified reputation for employing the best coaches. Our 3 Werners, Steinberger, Magreiter and Wörndle, went on to become, respectively, head of the famous Schladming Ski Academy, head trainer for the Austrian Ladies’ Team and head of the Austrian Ski Federation. The wonderful Manfred Wölscher twice won the world famous ‘Dash for Cash’ race in Australia. Our two Andreases, Schernthaner and Kristan went on to coach the British Team and become head trainer in the Kӓrnten region of Austria. Stefan Moser is now also with the British Ladies Team. Kenny Morton has become the latest in a long line of DHOracing coaches to work at British level, joining David Ryding’s coaching group.
Though the parent club, DHO is based in Wengen, DHOracing holds race camps in resorts around Europe and the UK, and our skiers take part in a number of major ski races – British and English Championships, British club races and a variety of indoor races. Many of our racers progress to FIS (International Ski Federation) races and a select, but regular, few progress to British Teams. Others ski for their university, spend time teaching skiing or become race coaches. All become highly accomplished skiers.