Photo: Lech Zuers Tourismus
Skiing the “White Ring”
Issue 32 / 06 March 2020

Skiing the “White Ring”

The most popular ski tour in Lech-Zürs, the White Ring is an incredible half-day experience for any level of skier.

Alicia Bryan

Located in the area of Lech am Arlberg in Vorarlberg Austria, the White Ring at 22 km is the longest ski circuit in the world, linking Lech with its neighbours Zürs, Zug and Oberlech. With an altitude difference of 5,000 metres, this exhilarating circuit attracts sporting enthusiasts from all over the world with its six lifts, ascents and five downhill runs. The most popular ski tour in Lech-Zürs, the White Ring is an incredible half-day experience which can be enjoyed by both confident learners and experienced skiers.

The History

Ahead of his time, Sepp Bildstein was a ski pioneer from Vorarlberg who was the first Austrian to jump the Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo. Bildstein had the vision to build ski lifts in Lech Zürs, and in the winter of 1940/1941, his vision became a reality with the commissioning of the first drag lift. With shorter ascent times, the lift system was a great success, bringing skiers across the world together to enjoy an extended skiing experience.

Sepp Bildstein loved a challenge, frequently taking on other skiers in the Arlberg and today, skiers share in Bildstein’s competitive spirit as they partake in the White Ring race. Once a quiet mountain village, the Arlberg is now a series of internationally award-winning ski resorts.

The White Ring Race

In the winter of 2005/2006, the Arlberg put together the first White Ring race to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this famous ski circuit. This infamous race sees 1,000 racers compete every January to see who will be the first to cross the finish line. Starting on the Rüfikopf mountain, every 100 seconds groups of 20 dart across the Omeshorn mountain to Zug via the Schüttbodenlift. Skiers then make their way down the Trittalalpbahn and Madloch ski runs, to finally take the chairlift up to the Balmengrat and complete the last stretch down to Lech and over the finish line. Along this route, skiers must take on five downhill runs as well as five ropeways, a challenging ascent and a backcountry ski run. The course record for the White Ring is 44:10:75 and has been held by Markus Weiskopf since 2010.

The Speed Race

Taking place over the final section of the White Ring on Balmen 134, the Speed Race is held two days before the White ring race, with 300 skiers taking on this 2 km stretch. With a 550 metre descent, speed is at the forefront of this race with competitors all attempting to finish the race in the fastest time.

Area Check

Those familiar with the White Ring will be able to complete the circuit in a few hours. However, beginners looking for a challenge can still enjoy the White Ring by partaking in the Area Check. Taking place every Sunday from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, guides from Lech Ski School will take skiers around the White Ring on easier routes giving special tips and useful information along the way.

A Trip to Remember

Immortalise your experience along the White Ring by stopping at photo points and taking free photos to document your time in the Arlberg. From the Hinterwies lift in the race area to the Babylift in Zürs, all photos taken can be found online, free of charge.

Whilst the White Ring has signs along the ski circuit to aid skiers in navigating the ski area, you can also use the Ski Arlberg App free of charge for further information. By tracking the White Ring via the app, you will also be entered automatically into a competition! Make sure you also stop at the viewing platforms of Rüfikopf and Madloch during your White Ring adventure and take in your breathtaking surroundings!

For more information on Lech view our Ultimate Guide or if you're looking for accommodation then take a look at our portfolio of luxury chalets in Lech.

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