Swissman Caspar Badrutt
(1848-1904) may have near singlehandedly invented the way we we now look at winter activities — a time for fun and frolic on the picturesque but cold slopes outside his first hotel in scenic St Moritz
, historic summer Mineral spa
town where the rich and royal took mineral cures
during the May to September long period days. Badrutt wasn't happy with having two thirds of the year without guests, and so challenged some of his well-to-do English regulars at season's end one year to a bet: he would give them their winter lodging for free if they found the locale inhospitable and uninteresting on a lengthy winter stay, and if he won their satisfaction, they had to talk up the experience to all and sundry amongst their acquaintances all the next year. The five gentlemen were well connected, traveling in wealthy circles including friends and acquaintances among the aristocracy of the day — including many scions of royal lines and other European nobles.
Almost overnight wintering in St Moritz at Badrutt's Kulm hotel became the rage, and the increased crowding lead to searching for diversions. A few Englishmen adapted a child's delivery sled for daring dashes down the twisting narrow streets. Subsequently, members of the distaff wanted a Victorian ride, and larger steerable devices were contrived—respectively the early Luge/Skeleton individual sleds and the Bobsled (or Bobsleigh). Careening around the town's streets was a blast, but the incidence and frequency of pedestrian collisions and risk to life and limb grew proportionately. So Badrutt stepped in and built the first purpose-built half-pipe track now so familiar from olympic coverage 140 years later. The Englishmen formed the Cresta Run.