(CNN)It’s one of skiing’s classic races at an iconic venue on a leg-jellying track with a fearsome reputation.

The Wengen downhill is the oldest, longest and fastest on the men’s World Cup circuit, and one of those titles coveted by the speed freaks, like a grand slam in tennis or a major in golf. Its honors board is a who’s who of downhill daredevils over the years. The historic race, which returns Saturday, is a two-and-a-half minute plunge down the Lauberhorn mountain in the shadow of the infamous Eiger and neighboring alpine giants the Monch and the Jungfrau.The start is high above car-free Wengen, which in turn sits on a sunny shelf above the Lauterbrunnen valley in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland.The town is chock full of timber-clad chalets and grand 19th century hotels, reached by a rack railway from the valley floor. Read More”Wengen is like something from a chocolate box cover, it’s just so atmospheric and magical. There’s nowhere else quite like it,” says Getty Images photographer Clive Rose. “It’s my favorite place to shoot ski racing.”Visit CNN.com/Sport for more news, features and videosSpectacular air show in the Swiss AlpsSpectacular air show in the Swiss Alpsspc alpine edge wengen air show_00023030JUST WATCHEDSpectacular air show in the Swiss AlpsReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Spectacular air show in the Swiss Alps 02:49’Special’The train trundles on up to Kleine Scheidegg, where tourists train telescopes on climbers on the Eiger’s north face, or change trains to journey up through the mountain itself to reach the Jungfraujoch high above the vast Aletsch glacier. It’s also the jumping off point for ski racers heading to the start hut on the Lauberhorn at 2,315 m (7,595 ft).The Lauberhorn race weekend, which also includes a slalom and a combined event, first took place in 1930 and regularly attracts crowds of 35,000 for the downhill alone. It traditionally precedes the blue riband Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuhel, Austria. The twin classics are highlights of the alpine sporting calendar, but if Kitzbuhel is the gold standard, Wengen represents a timeless diamond, the quintessence of downhill derring-do.”There are a lot of beautiful things, a lot of special things,” said Italian Christof Innerhofer, who won in 2013.”It’s the fastest downhill, the longest downhill, with a beautiful panorama. Even going up to the start on the train — it’s very special to have won here.”READ: Ski fitness: Harness your sixth sense and ‘create magic’READ: How Special Forces training is speeding up US downhillersThe famed Valais village of Zermatt sits below the iconic Matterhorn peak. This car-free resort offers upscale boutiques, world-class skiing and a thriving apres-ski scene. The famed Valais village of Zermatt sits below the iconic Matterhorn peak. This car-free resort offers upscale boutiques, world-class skiing and a thriving apres-ski scene. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsZermatt (Switzerland) – The famed Valais village of Zermatt sits below the iconic Matterhorn peak. This car-free resort offers upscale boutiques, world-class skiing and a thriving apres-ski scene. Hide Caption 1 of 10The small Valais village of Grimentz is chocolate-box perfect, with its old-school chalets and unspoiled valley. It sits in the Val d'Anniviers, a side shoot of the great Rhone Valley. The small Valais village of Grimentz is chocolate-box perfect, with its old-school chalets and unspoiled valley. It sits in the Val d'Anniviers, a side shoot of the great Rhone Valley. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsGrimentz (Switzerland) – The small Valais village of Grimentz is chocolate-box perfect, with its old-school chalets and unspoiled valley. It sits in the Val d’Anniviers, a side shoot of the great Rhone Valley. Hide Caption 2 of 10The classy village of Wengen, which can only be reached by cog railway or cable car, gazes out across the deep Lauterbrunnen valley and up towards the famous 4,000-meter peaks of the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau.The classy village of Wengen, which can only be reached by cog railway or cable car, gazes out across the deep Lauterbrunnen valley and up towards the famous 4,000-meter peaks of the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsWengen (Switzerland) – The classy village of Wengen, which can only be reached by cog railway or cable car, gazes out across the deep Lauterbrunnen valley and up towards the famous 4,000-meter peaks of the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau.Hide Caption 3 of 10The Tyrolean town of Kitzbuehel hosts the historic Hahnenkamm race every January, when the world's best ski racers fling themselves down a steep ribbon of ice -- 40.4 degrees at one point -- known as the Streif.The Tyrolean town of Kitzbuehel hosts the historic Hahnenkamm race every January, when the world's best ski racers fling themselves down a steep ribbon of ice -- 40.4 degrees at one point -- known as the Streif. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsKitzbuehel (Austria) – The Tyrolean town of Kitzbuehel hosts the historic Hahnenkamm race every January, when the world’s best ski racers fling themselves down a steep ribbon of ice — 40.4 degrees at one point — known as the Streif.Hide Caption 4 of 10Just two hours north of Venice, Cortina d'Ampezzo sits in a sunny bowl fringed by the towering needles of the eastern Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage region, some of which soar to more than 3,000 meters. The James Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) was filmed here. Just two hours north of Venice, Cortina d'Ampezzo sits in a sunny bowl fringed by the towering needles of the eastern Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage region, some of which soar to more than 3,000 meters. The James Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) was filmed here. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsCortina d'Ampezzo (Italy) – Just two hours north of Venice, Cortina d’Ampezzo sits in a sunny bowl fringed by the towering needles of the eastern Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage region, some of which soar to more than 3,000 meters. The James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) was filmed here. Hide Caption 5 of 10A former farming village done good, luxurious Lech caters for the more discerning end of the money spectrum, plus vacationing royals. The town sits in an open bowl among gentle peaks on the banks of the Lech river, part of the famous Arlberg region. A former farming village done good, luxurious Lech caters for the more discerning end of the money spectrum, plus vacationing royals. The town sits in an open bowl among gentle peaks on the banks of the Lech river, part of the famous Arlberg region. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsLech (Austria) – A former farming village done good, luxurious Lech caters for the more discerning end of the money spectrum, plus vacationing royals. The town sits in an open bowl among gentle peaks on the banks of the Lech river, part of the famous Arlberg region. Hide Caption 6 of 10Named "Austria's most beautiful village" in a 1983 television contest, Alpbach continues to maintain its cutesy homespun looks and traditional architecture. All upper floors of new buildings must be clad in wood to preserve the bygone feel.Named "Austria's most beautiful village" in a 1983 television contest, Alpbach continues to maintain its cutesy homespun looks and traditional architecture. All upper floors of new buildings must be clad in wood to preserve the bygone feel. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsAlpbach (Austria) – Named “Austria’s most beautiful village” in a 1983 television contest, Alpbach continues to maintain its cutesy homespun looks and traditional architecture. All upper floors of new buildings must be clad in wood to preserve the bygone feel.Hide Caption 7 of 10Megeve was one of the first purpose-built resorts in the Alps, developed by the wealthy Rothschild family in the 1920s, but unlike some of France's more recent purpose-built carbuncles the old farming roots have been retained. Megeve was one of the first purpose-built resorts in the Alps, developed by the wealthy Rothschild family in the 1920s, but unlike some of France's more recent purpose-built carbuncles the old farming roots have been retained. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsMegeve (France) – Megeve was one of the first purpose-built resorts in the Alps, developed by the wealthy Rothschild family in the 1920s, but unlike some of France’s more recent purpose-built carbuncles the old farming roots have been retained. Hide Caption 8 of 10The quaint old town of Courmayeur sits on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc tunnel. The skiing begins from a sunny plateau above the town with stupendous views of more than a dozen of Europe's highest peaks.The quaint old town of Courmayeur sits on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc tunnel. The skiing begins from a sunny plateau above the town with stupendous views of more than a dozen of Europe's highest peaks. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsCourmayeur (Italy) – The quaint old town of Courmayeur sits on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc tunnel. The skiing begins from a sunny plateau above the town with stupendous views of more than a dozen of Europe’s highest peaks.Hide Caption 9 of 10Saas-Fee is home to the world's highest revolving restaurant at 3,500 meters which is a perfect spot for taking in the 360-degree panorama of 4,000 meter peaks, including the Dom, the Taschhorn and the Alphubel on the surrounding skyline. Saas-Fee is home to the world's highest revolving restaurant at 3,500 meters which is a perfect spot for taking in the 360-degree panorama of 4,000 meter peaks, including the Dom, the Taschhorn and the Alphubel on the surrounding skyline. Photos: 10 most beautiful alpine ski resortsSaas-Fee (Switzerland) – Saas-Fee is home to the world’s highest revolving restaurant at 3,500 meters which is a perfect spot for taking in the 360-degree panorama of 4,000 meter peaks, including the Dom, the Taschhorn and the Alphubel on the surrounding skyline. Hide Caption 10 of 1005-Ski-Resorts-Zermatt04-Ski-Resorts-Grimentz10-Ski-Resorts-WengenSki-Resorts-01-Kitzbuhel02-Ski-Resorts-Cortina06-Ski-Resorts-Lech09-Ski-Resorts-Alpbach07-Ski-Resorts-Megeve03-Ski-Resorts-Courmayeur08-Ski-Resorts-saasfee‘Unique’The revered racetrack is a 2.8-mile plunge down 3,373 feet to the tree-lined finish in Wengen, with heart-stopping speeds of nearly 100 mph reached on the Haneggschuss straight in the right conditions. France’s Johan Clarey clocked the highest speed ever recorded in a World Cup ski race of 161.9 kph (100.6 mph) there in 2013. The course features some infamous features such as the Hundschopf, a blind 130 feet jump through a narrow gap. Then there’s the Canadian Corner, the site of twin crashes by two of the “Crazy Canucks,” Dave Irwin and Ken Read in 1976, and the Kernen-S, named after a 2006 spill by Swiss racer Bruno Kernen, and the Minsch-Kante, which hospitalized Josef Minsch for several weeks in 1965. SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: (FRANCE OUT) Mario Matt of Austria wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Men's Slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: (FRANCE OUT) Mario Matt of Austria wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Men's Slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: (FRANCE OUT) Mario Matt of Austria wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Men's Slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)JUST WATCHED2014 Olympic slalom champion opens upReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH (18 Videos)SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: (FRANCE OUT) Mario Matt of Austria wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Men's Slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: (FRANCE OUT) Mario Matt of Austria wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Men's Slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)2014 Olympic slalom champion opens upThe first woman to land a cab triple 1260PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 23:  Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States attends a press conference on day 14 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 23, 2018 in Gangneung, Pyeongchang, South Korea.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 23:  Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States attends a press conference on day 14 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 23, 2018 in Gangneung, Pyeongchang, South Korea.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)Mikaela Shiffrin: Why I won’t be objectifiedUS Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin poses for photographers during the Atomic Racing-Media day 2018 in Salzburg, Austria on october 11, 2018. (Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT        (Photo credit should read BARBARA GINDL/AFP/Getty Images)US Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin poses for photographers during the Atomic Racing-Media day 2018 in Salzburg, Austria on october 11, 2018. (Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT        (Photo credit should read BARBARA GINDL/AFP/Getty Images)Mikaela Shiffrin: Politics too “toxic”Andre Myhrer of Sweden reacts at the finish during the Men's Slalom on day 13 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 22, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Andre Myhrer of Sweden reacts at the finish during the Men's Slalom on day 13 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 22, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Andre Myhrer: Sweden’s slalom starKILLINGTON, VT - NOVEMBER 26: Mikaela Shiffrin of USA competes during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Slalom on November 26, 2017 in Killington, Vermont. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)KILLINGTON, VT - NOVEMBER 26: Mikaela Shiffrin of USA competes during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Slalom on November 26, 2017 in Killington, Vermont. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)Alpine Skiing World Cup 2017/18 season wraplindsey vonn rescue dogs skiing pyeongchang 2018 winter olympics intl orig_00004701.jpglindsey vonn rescue dogs skiing pyeongchang 2018 winter olympics intl orig_00004701.jpgLindsey Vonn’s furry friendsCycling skiing’s scariest slope, The StreifItaly's Dominik Paris runs past spectators in the downhill race at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on January 21, 2017.  Italy's Dominik Paris won ahead of France's Valentin Giraud Moine and French teammate Johan Clarey, third.   / AFP / APA AND EXPA / Johann GRODER / Austria OUT        (Photo credit should read JOHANN GRODER/AFP/Getty Images)Italy's Dominik Paris runs past spectators in the downhill race at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on January 21, 2017.  Italy's Dominik Paris won ahead of France's Valentin Giraud Moine and French teammate Johan Clarey, third.   / AFP / APA AND EXPA / Johann GRODER / Austria OUT        (Photo credit should read JOHANN GRODER/AFP/Getty Images)Kitzbuhel: skiing’s biggest partyCarlo Janka of Switzerland competes during the men's downhill practice of the FIS Ski Alpine World Cup at the Hahnenkamm ski run in Kitzbuehel, Austria on January 18, 2017. / AFP / JOE KLAMAR        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)Carlo Janka of Switzerland competes during the men's downhill practice of the FIS Ski Alpine World Cup at the Hahnenkamm ski run in Kitzbuehel, Austria on January 18, 2017. / AFP / JOE KLAMAR        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)The most dangerous race in alpine skiing?Windsurfing down a snowy Japanese mountainZAGREB, CROATIA - JANUARY 03: Mikaela Shiffrin of USA in action during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Slalom on January 3, 2018 in Zagreb, Croatia. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)ZAGREB, CROATIA - JANUARY 03: Mikaela Shiffrin of USA in action during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Slalom on January 3, 2018 in Zagreb, Croatia. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)Mikaela Shiffrin crowned “Snow Queen”SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22:  Gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women's Slalom on Day 15 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Medals Plaza on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22:  Gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women's Slalom on Day 15 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Medals Plaza on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)Mikaela Shiffrin ‘scared’ by Russian dopingLAKE LOUISE, CANADA - DECEMBER 06: (FRANCE OUT) Lindsey Vonn of the USA takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Super G on December 06, 2015 in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)LAKE LOUISE, CANADA - DECEMBER 06: (FRANCE OUT) Lindsey Vonn of the USA takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Super G on December 06, 2015 in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)Vonn: I won’t represent Trump at Winter GamesMERIBEL, FRANCE - MARCH 22: (FRANCE OUT)  American World Championship medallists and World Cup globe winners Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn pose for a photo shoot during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Finals on March 22, 2015 in Meribel, France. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)MERIBEL, FRANCE - MARCH 22: (FRANCE OUT)  American World Championship medallists and World Cup globe winners Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn pose for a photo shoot during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Finals on March 22, 2015 in Meribel, France. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)US skiers back Russia doping punishmentWatch puppies become avalanche rescue dogsspc alpine edge ice fishing shaman levi_00002515.jpgspc alpine edge ice fishing shaman levi_00002515.jpgThe magic of ice fishingBritain’s skiing sensation: Dave RydingThe technical finishing turns and a jump followed by a compression into the line leaves many racers with nothing left in their legs, resulting in an ignominious stop in the crash mats. “It’s a real course and a big test,” adds Rose. “You see world-class athletes with their legs going, a bit like a marathon runner at the end, and they just can’t stand up.”The downhill has also been tinged by tragedy. In 1991 a 21-year-old Austrian named Gernot Reinstadler crashed into nets near the finish and later died of his injuries. “Wengen is definitely a unique race,” American great Bode Miller, who won in 2007 and 2008, told the In Search of Speed TV show.”It’s like four downhills all stuck together on one. There’s no other downhill as physically taxing or as taxing technically. To win that race you have to have every facet of downhill skiing completely dialed in.”READ: How life turned ‘Krazy’ for bar-owning ski championREAD: Ski racers using oxygen stripped of victory and $46k Filming the world's fastest skiersFilming the world's fastest skiersspc alpine edge wengen tv production_00000305JUST WATCHEDFilming the world’s fastest skiersReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Filming the world’s fastest skiers 03:01Local legend Karl Molitor holds the record with six victories between 1939 and 1947 — he went on to run the race for years and his name lives on in a Wengen ski shop, started by his father Fritz in 1912. Austrian greats Toni Sailer, Karl Schranz and Franz Klammer were also multiple winners and all achieved the prestigious Wengen-Kitzbuhel double in the same season. The last skier to win the double was Swiss Didier Defago in 2009.The massed home fans love nothing more than a Swiss winner and Beat Feuz earned his second title in 2018 to take Switzerland’s tally to 27 wins, three behind arch rival Austria. The legend of the Lauberhorn lives on.

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