Ski stars Kristian Ghedina, Peter Fill and Herbert Plank in attendance at the celebration event ©FIS

A special event has been held in Italy to celebrate 50 years of Val Gardena/Gröden hosting a leg of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine World Cup. 

This year's World Cup will begin on December 13, as part of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic season.

Organisers in South Tyrol put on a special celebration, bringing together past and present World Cup racers, officials, ski fans and volunteers.

There were 120 participants in all, including local theatre associations who re-enacted key moments in the event's history.

This included the awarding of the 1970 FIS World Ski Championships at the FIS Congress in Beirut and the 1975 FIS World Cup Final parallel slalom encounter between Italy's Gustav Thöni and Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark, won by the former.

Also recreated was the famous "deer encounter" involving Italy's Kristian Ghedina. 

The downhill specialist holds the record of four wins on Val Gardena's famous Saslong run - an achievement he shares with Austrian Franz Klammer - and he would have had a fifth but for a close encounter with a roebuck in 2004.

During his run, Ghedina spotted a small deer dashing across the race course, and the animal was captured and removed from the site.

After a brief pause, the race was underway once again. 

Other events to mark the 50-year celebrations include the premiere of the official World Cup song, written by Jenni Perathoner and Luca Langgartner.

Local people and visitors at the celebrations in Val Gardena in South Tyrol ©FIS
Local people and visitors at the celebrations in Val Gardena in South Tyrol ©FIS

Two camels were also present to celebrate what is probably the most famous passage of the Saslong, the "Camel Humps". 

Special guests included Italian ski stars Peter Fill, Ghedina and Herbert Plank.

Rainer Senoner, President of the Organising Committee, said: "We are very pleased with the anniversary festivities but even more with the incredible 50 years during which the Val Gardena/Gröden valley has hosted the FIS World Cup. 

"It was a great pleasure to welcome our many dedicated helpers and all the racers who have become friends, and to remember the many shared memories together.

"It is impressive how efficient and professionally the Val Gardena/Gröden Organising Committee has organised these races year after year."

Local Governor Arno Kompatscher added: "This is an invaluable advertisement for all of South Tyrol and it is honoured with great prestige on the international level."