Tourism officials in Belalp have concocted a special event to attract holidaymakers to the canton Valais resort. Witches will cast a spell over Belalp from January 21 to 28.This content was published on January 18, 2001 - 08:30
The sorcerers will throw a bewitching party on January 26 to cast spells over the main races scheduled for "Witches Week".
The highlight is expected to be the downhill race on January 27. Hundreds of skiers, dressed as witches, will take up the endurance and speed test. It starts at 3,100 metres above sea level and finishes 12 kilometres later in the town of Blatten in the valley below.
Although prizes will be awarded to the fastest witches, most competitors aren't expected to choose the most direct route to the finish, tending instead to make several stops for refreshments at ski bars and restaurants along the way.
There'll also be an event for children and for sorcerers who prefer to sweep the slopes with snowboards.
Legend has it that Belalp was once home to a witch, who liked to transform herself into a raven that was often seen flying over the housetops and alpine meadows.
As the story goes, the hatred she felt for her mate led to her demise. Having spotted him perched on top of a cherry tree, she flew over and blinded him with her droppings. But he got his revenge. She was eventually captured and burned on a pyre.
As the locals like to tell the story, the legend and the magical landscape of Belalp are all that remain.
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