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Ernst Hausknost (1906–1996)
The ski race at „Hahnenkamm” in the Tyrolian Alps
Austria, Tyrol, Bad Gastein/Kitzbühel, 1948
Gelatin silver print, 13 x 18 cm
Photographer’s stamp on the reverse

The Hahnenkamm race, nowadays the climax of the annual skiing circus, was first held in 1931. At that time there was no fixed course and the location was changed a number of times to places in the Kitzbühel skiing area. It was not until the 1950s that the „Streif” and the „Ganslern” became established as a fixed part of the Hahnenkamm race. Later the sections known as „Startschuss”, „Mausefalle”, „Steilhang Einfahrt”, „Alte Schneise” and „Hausberg” were added.

What has happened in the sixty years since the beginning of the race as far as equipment and conditions are concerned is made clear by the reportage photo from a series on winter sports. The racers participated in preparing the slope so warming up was unnecessary, getting to the top of the slope was accomplished by walking, clothing was anything but aerodynamic and helmets were also still unknown.

The winner in 1948 was Hellmut Lantschner from Tyrol who won the downhill event and came third in the slalom. Officers of the British occupying forces also took part in the race, and members of the Dutch Ski Association were in with a chance. There was great international interest in the spectacle even in 1948 so there were reports in the newspapers and on the radio and sportsmen were asked for live interviews.

After the war, in the 1940s and 1950s, the press photographer Ernst Hausknost was mainly employed by the Salzburg Festival and as a still photographer during film productions. Thereafter he ran a studio in Fuschl and, as a freelance photographer, supplied pictorial reports to various Austrian and German newspapers and magazines. Between 1955 and 1960 he was the in-house photographer for the Ronacher variety theatre and the Stadttheater in Baden. He also worked for the Reinhardt Seminar and the Löwingerbühne. From 1957 until he reached an advanced age (1992) he worked as the in-house photographer for the Josefstadt Theatre. He made numerous photographic portraits of artists for biographies and Josephstadt Theatre Festschriften.

Ulla Fischer-Westhauser, © WestLicht