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Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament: at the German national championships in Hinterzarten

on 2014-09-10

Our columnist Luis Holuch packed his stuff very spontaneously and made his way from his today's home town Munich to the German national ski jumping championships in Hinterzarten. Read now, which experiences he made, which souvenirs he collected and which (more or less famous) people he met. Like always: have fun and we are looking forward to your feedback!

Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament

By Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch

The story of this weekend is – if you are looking at the time I spent – not longer than any other about two days of ski jumping. But the way the happenings came one after another fascinated me already during the experience. From time to time I asked myself: “did that really happen? Have we been that crazy and did we do everything just because we wanted too?” And the answer was: “yes!” But let me tell the whole story.

About one week before the national German championships, I suddenly get the wish to go there. Not just because of the event, but to get the feeling of watching ski jumping and of my favourite place – at least in Germany. In contrast to Planica, to which I also got a special kind of connection, I can describe what makes Hinterzarten so special to me: there is a special feeling of being home. The atmosphere is friendly and familiar, the facility is fantastic and the village is so nice and calm and I really enjoy staying and walking there. And the main reason is my personal tradition: I watched my first international competition here, the summer grand-prix in 2010. One man who has been jumping there has the name Martin Schmitt. And he had his goodbye-ceremony on the 6th of September. On January 1st, he made his last jump during the competition of the Four Hills Tournament in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

That is what he told me in a small talk on this 6th of September at the jumpers’ village. It has been kind of a duty for me, to see him live with a special focus, because he has actually been the guy who brought me to this fascinating sport discipline. But back to the beginning: after clearing the details with my friend Sascha, we drove to the Black Forest very spontaneously. We drove three and a half hours at first to Schoenwald to see the Adlerschanze in a heavy rainfall and then to Schonach for visiting the Langenwaldschanze. We had to get busy till 4 p.m., because it has not been possible to go in our accommodation at Titisee before that time.

After a short check-in, we arrived just in time at the Adler-Skistadion in Hinterzarten. From some meters away we already heard the crowd and the music, it sounded well and more than in the past years. Like always, we received our press accreditations in the main building of the hill. But this time we had a lot of opportunities: we have been allowed to take the chair lift, to go on the coaches’ tower and also at but not on the slope. Actually, these spots were reserved for exclusive media partners and photographers of media agencies; the other journalists have mostly been close to the exit gate at the bottom of the hill.

So we took the lift to go up and watched the jumps of the trial round from the coaches’ tower. 57 (19 of them were juniors) participants were on the start list, a record number. So the participants’ number increased as well as the spectators’ number. After the trial round, the coaches’ tower got empty, so we have been able to search for the perfect spot for watching the following individual competition. Sascha and I talked about what photos and videos we want to make – apart from the personal souvenirs, of course. We decided to go some steps downhill, beside the coaches’ tower, where a young colleague was building up his tripod.

He told us, he is filming for “TV Suedbaden”, a local TV channel. But this is actually a hard task for a non-professional ski jumping camera man. Because the way and the speed in which he had to move the camera from the right to the left has been unbelievable fast – about 90 km/h, that’s what the guys’ speed is on this ski jump. From time to time he has been unhappy about his performance and we also had trouble with making our photos. But from this spot, closer than never before, I felt the intensity of the speed, the aerodynamic and also the danger of this sport. Like I sometimes wrote here, I would have loved to be a ski jumper. This wish has been a little in danger, because I finally noticed: if you want to do this, you have to be brave…very brave. Sometimes, I hold my breath, because the trial jumpers have been in more or less bigger troubles. But I was more impressed by how the guys cleared these troubles and landed safely. It was a bit strange to see these troubles, because there was actually no wind on that day.

But we did not took many notice about the scores and stats during the competition, because we did not see the landings and hardly heard the announcers Wolfi Hostmann – a veteran in the ski jumping announcers’ circus from Garmisch-Partenkirchen – and the local “hero” Eugen Winterhalder. But it was a really interesting perspective to see the coaches and how they imitated the jumps of their own athletes during this first so important part of the flight. And also the evaluation after the jumps was interesting, because the lift ran right above the coaches’ heads. In the past years of watching ski jumping, I taught myself some basics of analysing jumps and tried to use them at our pics and videos, but in real time it is a really hard challenge, because you need a lot of knowledge and the eye of a ski jumping coach. I resigned from that task when Danny Queck said he “came too much from his ass during the jump”. I have not been able to look at all the photos and videos yet, but I only picked very clear material for this episode.

After this round, which was dominated by Richard Freitag, he walked up to the jumpers’ village to get the result lists – and to make a photo together with the man who should get the later evening: Martin Schmitt. He had a walkie-talky as he went to his guys and also when he wanted to make his way to the tower as I started talking to him from the side and asked for a photo. And as you see: I got it. “Are you going to jump either today?”, I asked him. “No, I won’t. That would be to embarrassing, I am not jumping for nine months now”, he answered laughing. “Oh, I didn’t imagine you would forget that fast how to jump. But it’s pretty cool you are here, best of luck to you for the future”, I told him. He said “thank you” and made his way back to his coaching position.

The lift was out of order after the last jumper made his way back and so we walked down by feet. On the half of the way we heard fast steps. I almost hided from the massive human I thought that would come behind us. But it was just Juliane Seyfarth, the German ski jumper. She shook our hands and said “see you soon, I have to cross the fingers for my guys from Thuringia”. Then she ran away with her flag. “Don’t let anyone stop you”, I screamed as she turned around and appeared from the wood.

And also we hurried up now to not miss the final round at our “normal” spot: the fan-mile on the right side of the hill where all the autograph and photo hunters are spotted. Lots of kids and families were here to stop the passing jumpers to ask for souvenirs. This perspective is also very interesting: most of the jumpers have their own way how to deal with the people. Most of them take their time after the competition, because they feel too stressed between the two rounds. But there are also guys who always take the time for the people and some do not care about the kids and adults and kind of escape from them. Especially on Saturday it has been a stress day, but nevertheless I felt with some kids who didn’t get what they want – no matter from which jumper.

After completing the mission of doing a photo together with Martin Schmitt, I just had one more mission to do: completing the Olympic gold medallist quartet. Last year in Hinterzarten, I moved Severin Freund, Andreas Wellinger and Andreas Wank in front of the camera. So, Marinus was missing as the last one of the guys. So I went to him after the competition, which was won by Richard Freitag, and he directly said “yes”. The Bavarian is always in good mood, even today although he did a very bad first jump. He had a lot of time after the competition for the fans, because there was a long delay of Martin’s good bye-ceremony and the victories’ ceremony. We have been close to the action when Martin heard his (a bit too long) laudation and received a lot of gifts. And after he received the most valuable award for skiing athletes, the golden ski, everyone knew: a legend has left the stage of ski jumping as a jumper.

The following victory ceremony mainly consisted of a lot of gags and laughing young men. Especially one dialogue rested in my head till now. Announcer Wolfi and Richard Freitag: Wolfi: in nowadays’ times of smartphones, we need to take a selfie now. Richie: well then, let’s go! Wolfi: gosh, it’s so complicated now. Basically, there is one problem. Richie: which one? Wolfi: I look like shit beside you, I need to hold my microphone in front of my face.

And the whole stadium was laughing and applauding. For the final, all people did la ola-waves for all winners and leavers and then this ski jumping day was already over. I have been standing a while at the stairs up the stands and looked up the ski jump. Suddenly, I heard my name “hi Luis, nice to meet you personally and finally outside of Facebook”, says Wolfi and we are doing shake hands. “Hi Wolfi, nice announcement like always. Nice to meet you as well. I just love Hinterzarten and it’s always awesome to be here”, I answered him. “Enjoy your time here, have a nice evening”, he smiles. “I will do so, see you tomorrow”. Just as an explanation: I am engaging myself voluntarily for the summer ski jumping in Hinterzarten in course of the summer grand prix. For me as well as for Hinterzarten, these competitions and events are very important. Hinterzarten needs to get these events for its tradition and friendly flair. If you guys also like to come to Hinterzarten and want them to host a summer grand prix, you are welcome to our Facebook group “PRO Sommerskispringen in Hinterzarten!!!!!” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/656219041090129/?fref=ts)

Sascha and I finished the day at our local “da Franco” and with a walk through Hinterzarten at night. On the way to our accommodation, we passed the village and the ski jumping facility one more time and our thoughts just were: “this facility is awesome”.

Day 2: At 8 a.m. next morning we had to take breakfast, which was actually good in our personal running order, because the trial round was supposed to start at 9.30. Like the day before, I parked my car on the parking area and we went through the press entrance. We picked up a bottle of water and the start lists fast and made our way to the top of the hill with the lift. This time, we picked a different spot beside the table, where nobody was. The view up the inrun was even a bit better than yesterday, because there was more free area. Again and again there was this remarkable sound when a jumper left the table. And sometimes even the jumpers made some sounds; that is just their behaviour. Also the coaches have their own behaviour: Martin Schmitt acted a bit insecure and shy as he waved the flag. His colleagues told him: “you need to look angrier, otherwise no one takes you serious” and everyone was laughing out loud; also Sascha and I.

As the last ten jumpers came, I tried to film with my iPhone, but without any training it is very hard to be successful. You really need to have a good stand position and agility. Sometimes my videos were almost perfect and sometimes disappointing. Anyway it is a bit easier to film with such a small device than to use the high-tech-HD-cameras like our colleagues from TV production companies. Nevertheless, I decided to cancel this project after the trial round and to just enjoy watching the flights. The almost 30 minutes of break was a good time for us to relax a bit. We went over to next smaller hill, the Europa-Park-Schanze and sat down on the rock at the take-off. We really enjoyed the view over Hinterzarten. The stadium was not very crowded, in contrast to yesterday. Seeing that, it became totally clear, which effect the event for Martin Schmitt had yesterday. But nevertheless we enjoyed the whole weekend and were a bit sad that we had to go back home after the competition. The music turned a bit down and the announcers started again doing their job. That was the sign for us: back to the Rothaus-Schanze.

We decided to go a bit downhill to see more of the flight. From this point of view it was easier to evaluate the jump – although we still were not able to see the landing. For the most people, every ski jump looks the same – but not from our spot. The movement of the arms, the leg and ski positions and also the going up of the upper body part, respectively movement of the knees are totally different from athlete to athlete. Through this view, I enlarged my portfolio and increased my passion for ski jumping once again. Although I still have not been really jumping, I experienced this rush of speed and dynamics.

The fact that I missed the results till I received the lists at the jumpers’ village was not important for me. Especially because there was no surprise: team Bavaria I and II on the first two ranks, after that Baden-Wurttemberg I ahead of Saxonia I, which were only on that rank because Richie Freitag jumped outstanding 107.5 meters and Thuringia I on rank five. Sascha wanted to get some personal souvernirs and so we took the lift downhill.

As we arrived we went to the Rau family, which is sort of friend to us, and had some discussions with them. In the middle of the final round, I suddenly heard a known voice and I turned around: “are you into doing some photos?”, Juliane Seyfarth was asking. “Of course, nice you appeared here”, I answered and we started. The competition lost the last bit of tension after the second group, because the decisions were made. And so we with Juliane talked about her summer, the training, the development of ladies’ ski jumping in general and plans for the future. Therefore, we have been at the German championships of the men, we talked a lot about the ladies.

After this talk with Juliane, it became clear to me that I have to go also to the ladies’ national championships on October 3rd and 4th – also with look on our Eurosport winter. The conclusion of this weekend is just: it has been a genius idea to go to Hinterzarten, because everything was impressiv and fun. After the competition, I went to my car to get my laptop for exchanging the photos and videos with Sascha. He was at the victories’ ceremony and experienced how Michael Neumayer and Wolfi Hostmann sang the Bavarian anthem in a duett – a very impressive performance. After that, I caught Wolfi for a photo. I told him, like any other official that I hope to meet them in October or the latest next year at the summer grand prix.

That’s it for this time, thanks for reading and all the best for you guys. Yours Luis


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1)   Wolfi   wrote on 2014-09-11 at 22:24:

Wow

Lieber Luis, hab' Deinen Erlebnisbericht mit großer Freude gelesen - ein Genuss ... und das sicher nicht nur, weil ich in Deinem Rückblick vorkomme. Wünsche DIR für Deinen weiteren beruflichen Werdegang alles Gute und erhalte Dir Deinen ganz speziellen Enthusiasmus! Wünsche MIR, dass Du auch beim Neujahrsskispringen dabei bist (vielleicht klappt ja sogar Engelberg) und Dich weiterhin so engagierst. Falls Du an den beiden Orten irgendeine Unterstützung brauchst: bitte melden ;-) Liebe Grüße aus Oberbayern, Wolfi
P.S. Die schwarz-weiße Jacke, die ich in Hinterzarten an hatte, ist "uralt" und stammt (mit dem Aufdruck "GP-Insider" = Grand Prix - Insider) aus den "guten alten" Sommer Grandprixzeiten; wenn Du in GAP bis, schenk' ich Dir die (natürlich frisch gewaschen, haha) als Erinnerung an eben diese guten, alten Zeiten :-)



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