An impressive mountain range, with peaks more than 200 million years old. Once a giant coral reef in the primordial ocean, today the Dolomites tower 3,000 metres into the sky. But it’s not just the origins of the Italian mountains - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 - that are impressive, but also the unique way the ski resorts have developed into the internationally renowned Dolomiti Superski region.
Not only are the Dolomites, located in the provinces of South Tyrol, Belluno and Trentino extraordinarily beautiful, they are also of outstanding scientific importance. UNESCO emphasises the mountains’ international significance in the field of Geo-sciences, with the overriding reason being the high concentration of varieties of limestone. It’s hardly surprising that scientists felt at home in what is now the Dolomiti Superski region long before anyone had ever thought of skiing...
What started more than a century ago, with individual daredevils on wooden planks, has since developed into one of Italy’s most important ski regions. Tourists started to visit the Dolomites and skiing developed as a sport here around the start of the twentieth century. Founding of the Cortina d’Ampezzo ski club in 1903 and the first ski races on Alpe di Siusi two years later were the first moves in the right direction.
In the 20th century, the small mountain villages in the southern limestone Alps had one and the same idea - to develop as ski resorts. The first two-day circuit of the Sella massif was completed by a young man from Merano/Meran, Peter Böttl, in 1912. International winter tourism to Cortina, Selva/Wolkenstein and Corvara took off in the glittering 1930s. Cesco Kostner, from Corvara, was a legendary pioneer of his times, winning the “Gigantissimo” race down the Marmolada in 1933. Kostner also founded Corvara’s first ski school in 1934. What is the point of all these examples? The Dolomites villages are visionary and forward-looking. No mountain is too high, no sporting path too long, a point that is perfectly proved by Cortina d’Ampezzo providing the picturesque setting for the Winter Olympics as early as 1956!