The Dolomite Sprint is the king among cross-country sprints, the first of its kind and still one of the most difficult. Only those who have experienced it before can truly understand what happens each year in the specially erected arena in the main square of Lienz.
The crowd buzzes with excitement when the 30 athletes – many of them world class sprinters – warm up for the race and the Dolomitenlauf torch is lit. The sprinters shoot out of the starting gates. A 7-metre high ramp with its downward starting curve, a jump to be taken at a full sprint pace and the hairpin bend just before the final sprint all have to be taken properly if a competitor wants to have any chance of winning.
Thirty years ago the Dolomite Sprint was the first race of its kind. Now, however, the sprint is an Olympic discipline and Lienz is still a hot spot for the fastest sprinters in the world. The six sprinters who have fought their way through the heats into the final then have to complete three 350-metre laps of the sprint arena in Lienz’s main square. The starting shot from an old cannon and the rhythmical drums during the breaks also add to the unique atmosphere in Lienz.