Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament: Villach
An exciting visit to the ski jumps of Villach Alpenarena is on the itinerary of the recent epsiode of our column "Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament"
Luis on Ski Jumping Hill TournamentBy Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch
The second last stop (actually third last because of Planica trips on the ski jumping hill tournament of our columnist Luis Holuch is the ski center of Villach in Carinthia. Beside the visit of this venue, Luis also reported some curiousities below. Obligatory: have fun at reading and feel free to comment.
Villach - Villacher Alpenarena (K90, K60, K30, K15)
Exactly two hours drive were we supposed to drive to Carinthia, an act of violence one might think. We have some kilometers of motorway in front of us - and on some country road that were unplanned. Actually, we wanted to drive to Villach only once. I already had dispensed -with a heavy heart - on a visit to the Kulm ski flying hill in Bad Mitterndorf and already prayed the whole time that we go at least to Planica. My father said it is depending on the total travel time of the trip.
The weather around Salzburg is quite mixed, so we do not drive too fast on the highway, hoping to push the bad weather ahead of us. In contrast to a white Lamborghini Gallardo who passes us with more than 200 kph. My dad says dryly : "Yes, I admit that our Lexus does not reach this speed. But our white is much nice than this". Our laughter is interrupted by a ringing phone. There is a staff member of Dad's department at the company, Gildemeister.
"Well, Michael, do you enjoy the holidays? ", she asks. " And how much I do that! I'm sitting with my oldest son in the car and we are driving to Villach and Planica ski jumps for some visits. He has transferred his addiction to me. " Not only do they she to laugh, but I do. But not because of the last sentence, which had already signed off during the holidays, but because of happiness. The two discuss more professional things, of which I have absolutely no idea. So, I flip through the cards again, to find the best way to Planica.
Papa has just ended the call, as it suddenly stops raining and the sky begins to thin out. Fittingly, runs on Ö3 "Summer of 69", the best song Bryan Adams sang. We knew that this will be a good day. Although we drove with average pace, we reached Villach in under two hours. Short celebration mood is coming on, as see the Austrian Dr. Oetker headquarter – it was founded in…right! Bielefeld - from the car and still drive right past it . After a short orientation and process once we get back on the right track.
The hills are also signposted within sight and also so that we only need to take the Villach Alpine Road and need to park our car in the parking lot. Then have to go less than 100 m on foot, but they are done quickly. There is a lot of activity on the compley. Many families seem as his many guys running around in ski suits. Dad calls out to me : "Look, these are the stars of tomorrow ," I say, "look firstly how well they jump, and then we'll talk about it again ." He laughs and nods in agreement - and goes first in a cafe drinking coffee while I ask a supervisor what is taking place here.
With Austrian accent, she answers: „Actually, we have just finished. We started jumping at 9 a.m.. This is a training camp of the youth acadamies of Lower Austria and Carinthia. And we finished the camp with a final competition“. I say „thanks for the information“ and watch the last jumps. We are not in hurry and my father needs to find me again here.
I see three jumps from the K90, but they are not high standard, plus about 10 from the K60 which end all around the K-point. The wind is surely not a reason for the low distances, because it is not very strong and it comes from the valley up to the hills. My dad is coming back with a huge smile on his face and stands beside me. We watch the last jumps together and I am telling him about the results of my conversation with the supervisor.
The last jumper has landed and a man is calling everyone to him; that has to be the boss. The lift is directly out of order, which means for us that we have to walk by feet. I just have once visited four hills at the same mountain in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, so I have a feeling what comes next for us. But in contrast to Planica – you may be able to guess that – it is a trifle.
The both small hills are easily accessable by stairs. The K15 has a plastic matting inrun track, so this is old school building style. I guess it would not be much more sensefull to install an aluminium or ceramic inrun. This is something different at the K30, which has a china track. For somebody like me, a layman, this kind of hill is already a big challenge, but small boys in the age of maximum 10 years jump down easliy here. Damn! I wish again to live not in Bielefeld…
Before we walk towards the K60, we pass the middle station oft he jumpers‘ lift. Ski lifts with a middle station are very seldom, but only, if you are not visting ski jumping venues very often. In Planica, the lift has got two of these stations – all in all it has four stations. Because I am a passionated skier, this phaenomen appeared to me: it was at Davos (CH) on Jakobshorn. So here, we have this building as well, next to the new-built judges‘- and TV-tower.
I do not know how much it is used for competitions on the normal hill, because there is another tower on the other side of the hill. But it would be also appropriate for TV-broadcasting. Liket he tower in Ramsau, it is also a place for materials like skis and suits. From the position we are at this moment, we have a perfect view on the jumpers‘ village. There is still some movement, because the young jumpers are packing their bags and put them into vans. 22 timber houses are standing here, so quite enough for World Cup or Continental Cup athletes.
Stars like Thomas Morgenstern and Martin Joch did their first jumps here and do not live far away from the hills. You can meet these two during their training sessions very often, but today my dad and me did not had this pleasure. Also the Slovenian ski jumping women are here for training. But this becomes more lesser since the normal and large hill is built in Planica. And also the appearance of Villach in the World Cup calendar. At the time, where RTL released a new ski jumping video game every year, there was a World Cup competition in Villach every year. But the officials here plan to host a Ladies‘ World Cup soon, so we will take a look on how the future is going to look like.
We continue our visiting tour now with the second large ski jump here. The last drops of the watering system are runnig down the inrun track and then it is suddenly silent. Till a huge motorbike column rides up the serpentines oft he Villach Alps Route. A lot of Harley Davidson-bikes and shortly behind a Porsche oldtimer finish dreaming in the landscape or even some sleeps.
If you do not want to fall asleep, you just need to sit down on the bar oft he K60. My adrenaline level rises up rapidly as I do that. But you can really enjoy the view around downtown of Villach and the surrounding mountains, like the ski area Bad Kleinkirchheim, where the Alpine Ski World Cup often takes place.
We are on the last hill for this station , the normal hill. I 'm a little surprised if the state of the starting tower, which has to nibble a bit at his age. The red metal has already dirt tracks and is partly a little damaged. It is also not so easy to come up on him, at least from the cross-country route, dad and me have used. We need to heave each other, because otherwise it does not work otherwise. Also, the step height is designed somewhat unhappy. This is strange to me, even without jumping boots, I do not know how the athletes move here.
When climbing the steps, something in the inrun track catches my eyes. A black elongated thing that moves back and forth between the two channels of the inrun. It is not particularly large, but for this incredibly nimble and it has an oily skin, which shines in the sun. On closer inspection, the solution comes into my dad’s mind: 'how cool, a gecko! Isn’t it funny that it lost itself on a ski jump". I answer "And then to one that is in close proximity to a noisy mountain Street", I answer straight into the noice oft he column of motorbikes that crosses the Villach Alps Route above us.
Meanwhile, we reached the top of the hill and enjoy the view down to valley. We can hardly see the fall line, but the slopes oft he other hills even better. And the Villach Alps Route is just a stone throw – you can take me by my words – up the mountain. Every serpetine has got a number for a better orientation. But I already notice here, that the things, something symbolic for the hill, a special thing in architecture for example, are missing in my eyes here. But that becomes more and more difficult the more ski jumps you visited. Maybe it was also caused by my anticipation on Planica. I think oft hat visit more as a „nice to have done it“, but nothing more. The most positive thing I can say is that the ski club Villach is working good on the youth jumpers.
To go back into the correct order, you can find here the chronological follow-up episode from Planica.
Till then: don’t let the fall rain too much on you,