A sport that is becoming increasingly popular is tobogganing. The reasons for this are obvious: by going uphill you are exercising, fun is brought by the descent, and besides it is an inexpensive sport for the whole family.
Tyrol's highest toboggan run
In this article I may present you the Family toboggan run Kühtai introduce to you. I also spoke with Gerald Kammerlander, the sports director and head coach of the Austrian Luge Federation in the natural track luge division, who gave us some very important tips on the subject of safe to bogganing.
After three years of construction, the highest toboggan run in Tyrol at 2,127 meters above sea level is ready. Snow safety is guaranteed. "If we don't have snow, nobody does," Roland Schwarz from the tourism association explains to me with a grin. With a length of 1,330 meters and 14 hairpin bends, the toboggan run is absolutely perfect for hobby tobogganers. But professional tobogganers will also find optimal conditions here. Ascent and descent are separated - which I find incredibly pleasant. You walk uphill for about 1.3 kilometers. Even small walking feet can manage that well. If you want, you can warm up after the ascent in the Graf-Ferdinand-Haus warm up or plunge straight into the fun.
From the oldest means of transport to modern sports equipment
On January 28, the time had finally come, the toboggan run was ceremoniously opened. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate, but it was still a great day and I learned a lot of new things about tobogganing. Did you know that toboggans are one of the oldest means of transportation? Actually logical, isn't it? Because before the wheel was invented, people already had to transport goods from A to B. They did this by carrying loads from one place to another. This was done by dragging loads on branches and poles. Gradually, people realized that skids could reduce the frictional resistance, and so the first sleds were created. It was a long way from sleds, which were used as a means of transport, to the sports equipment we have today. Sleds as a luxury item - i.e. just for pleasure - probably did not exist before the 15th century. It's a pity, people really missed out in the old days.
The certified tobogganing guides show you how it's done
Tobogganing is one of my favorite winter activities. At this point I have to be honest, I actually liked the uphill even a teeny bit better than the downhill until now. Why is that? On the one hand, it's probably because I just like hiking, and on the other hand, I've never sat on a "really good" toboggan. Thank goodness that changed last Saturday. In the course of the opening ceremony I had the opportunity to go sledding with a trained Toboggan guide and on a really good toboggan. And let me tell you, it really makes a huge difference. What makes a toboggan a good toboggan was explained to me by the sports director and head coach of the Austrian Luge Federation, Gerald Kammerlander - but more on that later.
Anyone can toboggan, just sit on it and off you go, right? "No," says Stefan Haslwanter, a trained toboggan guide, "tobogganing is not difficult, and you can learn it quickly, nevertheless there are a few things you need to pay attention to. Proper braking and cornering, for example." Basics that every sledder should actually know. It really makes sense to be "coached" by a professional. "Within two and a half hours, you already learn the most important things," says Stefan Haslwanter.
Safely jet into the valley
Safe tobogganing has to be learned! At the workshop "Safe tobogganing on the Kühtai family toboggan run" owners of the Welcome Card every Tuesday from 13:30 to 16 clock the opportunity to do so. Simply register (registration deadline is Monday until 4 pm) and make the slope unsafe or rather safe with one of the toboggan guides! At 13:15 o'clock all participants meet at the start of the toboggan run (at the blue container), after a little theory it can already start. Very important is the right clothing including helmet (what you should wear for tobogganing and what you should pay attention to, has also explained to me Gerald Kammerlander). If you don't want to bring your own toboggan, you can borrow one on site.
Tips from the world champion
In my eyes, tobogganing is one of the most family-friendly winter sports. From toddlers to grannies, everyone can take part in a tobogganing excursion. Nevertheless, there are safety rules that must be followed. In cooperation with experts from the Austrian Tobogganing Association and the KFV, the Tobogganing rules were created. They serve as a basis for safe tobogganing on natural tracks. Take a look at them right away and memorize them well! Because as with any other sport, safety is the top priority.
And it was precisely on this topic that I had the pleasure of talking to Gerald Kammerlander, Sports Director and Head Coach of the Austrian Luge Federation in the natural track section. He is an absolute professional. He came to luge at the age of eight in a ministrants' race, as he tells me: "Then one thing led to another, I joined the local club and competed in the first national races, then later in the first international races." One of his greatest successes is the world championship title in the single-seater in 2011.
It starts with the equipment ...
Safety already starts with the right equipment. "If you have brains, protect them!" The most important thing is a well-fitting helmet. If you are unsure, it is best to seek advice in a specialty store. Since tobogganing is a winter sport, it goes without saying that you should dress warmly. Nevertheless, you will start sweating on the ascent, so it's best to choose the twilight look. "Good footwear is the be-all and end-all. Special attention should be paid to the tread," explains Gerald Kammerlander, "an absolute no-go are sneakers or, even worse, ski boots." Depending on the weather, sunglasses or ski goggles are recommended. Whether it's a bright blue sky or clouds, don't forget sunscreen - the higher the sun protection factor, the better.
Not all toboggans are the same
What would tobogganing be without a toboggan? Choosing the right one is crucial. The better the toboggan, the greater the fun and, above all, the greater the safety. It is important to have a stable and flexible base frame as well as slanted runners. If you want to play it safe, look for a toboggan with the Quality Toboggan Austria Seal of Approval Look out. Stay away from cheap parts with rigid construction, because they are difficult or impossible to control, and the riding fun is much less on top of that. Bobsleds or any other sliding aids have no place on a toboggan run. At most, they are used on a sliding hill without fixed obstacles and with sufficient run-out.
Fun for the whole family
As we said, tobogganing is a sport for the whole family, even the very youngest can join in the fun. Children between the ages of one and three, who are not yet able to hold on to the sled themselves, should sit on the sled in front of an adult. Optimal for this is a splash guard, which serves as a seat extension for children's feet. Somewhat older children sit in the back, and later they can confidently ride alone. Animal family members should be left at home if possible. Dogs can be unpredictable. To avoid endangering other sledders, they should never run alongside the sled. If you don't want to leave your furry friend at home, one person can simply walk the dog down into the valley.
Safely to the destination - by day and night
But before we start talking about the descent, we first have to go uphill, and there are rules for that, too. If there is a separate ascent, it should be used, of course. If not, you should always go on the inside. If possible, do not pull your sled, but carry it. Should you suddenly have to swerve, you will be much faster and more maneuverable if you carry the toboggan.
A special fun is the night sledding. The same rules apply as during the day. In addition, you should wear a high-visibility vest and have a good headlamp with you - even if the toboggan run is illuminated, after all, the electricity could theoretically fail.
Watch out for others!
That you should show consideration for others, keep your distance, heed warnings and not ride on ski slopes is hopefully self-evident, as is that you never ride under the influence of alcohol, drugs or head first, that you always keep the toboggan run clear and that you provide first aid in an emergency.
Perfect your hobby
If you are already a tobogganing professional yourself and enjoy inspiring others for this sport and teaching safe and technically correct tobogganing, the training to become a tobogganing guide from the Austrian Tobogganing Association might be something for you. You can find more information here. As I said, I had the great pleasure of tobogganing with one of the guides and am really grateful to have learned so many new things.
Toboggan run Kühtai
Walking time ascent: approx. 30 to 45 minutes
Length of track: approx. 1.3 kilometers
Ascent and descent: separate
Rental: possible on site
Arrival by public transport: Line 4166 - Regiobus Sellraintal, Line 4196 - Regionalbus Oetz - Ochsengarten - Kühtai
Tobogganing in and around Innsbruck: all toboggan runs at a glance
Tobogganing worlds: Everything you need to know about tobogganing can be found here.
Even more tobogganing fun on the blog:
Lea's tip: the Rumer Alm
You can find the most beautiful photos and great tips at Danijel.
My favorite toboggan runs: here and here
Cover picture: © Ashley Wiggins
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