Peter Fill is the defending downhill champion at the Austrian course ©Getty Images

Defending champion Peter Fill has admitted that the showcase downhill race at Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel is "not fun" as the world's best skiers prepare for this year's edition at the Austrian resort.

The men's race, which is part of the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup season, is considered to be among the most prestigious on the circuit due to its history and the challenging and treacherous nature of the course.

Races have been held since 1931 with Italy's Fill hopeful of more success at an event which has already attracted big crowds this year for the training runs.

"I love coming to Kitzbühel as it is always an enjoyable weekend," the 34-year-old double World Championship medallist said to AFP.

"The race course itself is not fun, but a huge challenge. 

"I have many positive memories after my win last year, so am highly motivated.

Big crowds have already watched the training runs in Kitzbühel ©FIS
Big crowds have already watched the training runs in Kitzbühel ©FIS

"Falls are part and parcel of our sport and if you look back over previous races, there were certainly no more incidents as in other years.

"There are, of course, more pleasant things to do than to stand by and watch."

Action will begin in Kitzbühel tomorrow with the super-G, before the downhill on Saturday (January 21).

Slalom will bring proceedings to a close on Sunday (January 22) which will provide defending overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher a chance of success on home snow.

The Austrian technical specialist is aiming for a sixth overall title in a row and leads this season's standings on 973 points. 

He already holds a sizable advantage over Norway's slalom ace Henrik Kristoffersen, who has 692 in second place.

Alexis Pinturault of France, already the Alpine Combined champion this season, is third on 629.

The women's World Cup season will resume in Garmisch in Germany on Saturday.