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. How successful she was - many of her DHO girls have represented their countries in the Olympics. Since then more British Olympic skiers have started their racing career with the DHO than with any other of the Alpine Clubs.
The club is based in Wengen but race camps are held in resorts around Europe and all the trainees take part in the British, English and BARSC (British Alpine Racing Ski Clubs) Championships. Most of the Juniors go on to FIS (International Ski Federation) races before going on to university, and those who do not make the English or British teams often ski for their university, spend a year teaching in the Alps or in the Southern Hemisphere. All trainees reach a very high level of skiing and this of course stays with them all their lives.
The club employs a mix of UK and foreign trainers and they often stay with the club for many years. They recommend other qualified trainers, personally known to them, and thus a very high and uninterrupted standard is maintained.
Summer and October training camps are usually held in Austria. Christmas training is in the DHO's home village of Wengen, and continues on in the resort where the BARSC Championships are being held. The February half-term is located round the English Championships and at Easter the training and racing takes place in the resorts where the British and Scottish are taking place.
Ski racing must be one of the most exhilarating sports and the trainees cannot get enough of it. They love putting on their bibs and crash helmets, adrenalin rushing around, waiting for the starter's command - allez, los, go! Trainees return year after year and keep in touch once they have left. It is not a cheap sport and certainly not for British children who must live and train away from home. Many say that participation in training and racing has changed their lives.
Anyone with interesting anecdotes about the club's training in the past - and photos (that would be returned when scanned) - should send them to the Racing & Training Manager