Traditional hills under reconstruction – Part 1: Kulm ski flying hill
Winter is coming soon and so the time to complete construction works is running out fast. The spotlights of the past months have definitely been in Bad Mitterndorf, Austria and in Planica, Slovenia. We focus on the progress of works and introduce the new ski flying hills to you in detail. In this episode we start with the Kulm ski flying hill at Bad Mitterndorf/Tauplitz.
In 2015, ski flying celebrates its 50-year anniversary at Kulm. Sechs rebuildings and four ski flying world championships have passed by in this time on this natural hill (a hill without artificial inrun and slope) including 16 hill records. The last hill record was jumped by Gregor Schlierenzauer in 2009 with 215.5 meters. He has had a lot of pressure at his landing and was not able to land with a telemark. Six years before, his countryman Christian Nagiller had a crash as he jumped incredible 220 meters. But his flight has been a sign to the organizers that the Kulm is able to give more to jumpers and spectators than they might have been ever thinking.
The certificate ended in 2010; the Kulm received a provisional extension but only under the condition to adapt the hill and renew the profile until the ski flying world championships 2016. At the same time, the organizers at Vikersund, Norway, inteded to renovate their ski flying hill as well. Both teams were in a race for the world record and sent a request to the International Ski Federation (FIS). The altitude difference between take-off and outrun was supposed to enlarge from 130 to 135 meters. The officials at Kulm had once the idea to enlarge it to 150 meters. As Organizer’s Comitee (OC) boss Hupert Neuper told at the Forum Nordicum at Willingen, the new rule with 135 meters was “the right decision. Otherwise, the dimensions would have been too large. A bigger difference would also have meant that jumps on 220 meters do not look spectacular anymore. Anyway, I am sure that jumps up to 300 meters are possible.”
The building stages started after the last world cup in January. It started with adapting the inrun. By putting the table 23 meters back, the Kulm has lost his status as the only natural ski flying hill, because the table (made with concrete) as well as the porch are artificial now. The way to the table was formed by a metal construction, which was partly lay down on the old inrun and partly build up on the old inrun. It has not been necessary to fix anything in the upper part of the ski jump, because the judges’ have chosen short inrun (low gates) in the past years. Through the short inrun, there have not been any worries about the top of the inrun and the start gates. The table is now located on the described metal construction and so the jumpers are jumping higher than before. Neuper also said in his presentation that the feeling in the air will be very different, because the flyers will now be over the wood in the starting phase of the flight.
Logically, the porch also had to be higher than before – the maximum height of this construction is 8 meters. The workers installed wind nets there to give more security to the jumpers. Also the arrangements at the lower part of the hill have been small compared to other projects. The slope was flatted more to go deeper into the radius at the bottom of the hill. In addition to that, the landing zone was wided up to 10 more meters. In September, ski jump chief Lambert Grill told berkutschi.com: “just a few meters after the table we have had a broadness of 7.5, now it will be 16 meters. At the location of the K-point, the slope will have a bridth of 40 instead of 30 meters.” The new table is standing on the beginning of the old table, so it looks like there are two levels – which is not reality. Also the judges’ tower was renovated from outside. The only problem now is that there is no space for the jumpers’ village. Neuper and co. hope to clear this case until the ski flying world championships 2016.
The whole building measures have the effect that the new K-point of Kulm will be on 200 meters, which has been the old hillsize. The hillsize will now be at 225 meters, so these two datas are similar to the Skiflygingsbakke in Vikersund. In contrast to the Norwegians, Huber Neuper and his colleagues are not aiming for the world record. This became clear during the building progress as well, as Neuper explains: “the world record would be nice, but we also have to face the circumstances. Usually we have backwind during the competitions, which makes it hard to go for a world record. But for me a competition is good when there is a fight around hillsize distances. That is what we want to give to our fans”, says Neuper who jumped hill record on “his” hill in 1982 with 167 meters.
All in all, there are a lot of signs that the enlargement of the Kulm will not mean a new world record there. It seems that the number of world records will still stay at 3: 1962 and 1965, the GDR-jumper Peter Lesser (141 and 145) jumped twice a world record and also the Austrian star Andreas Felder was lucky to do the same with 191 meters, just after the fourth renovation of the Kulm. The men from Styria have been building efficiently, talking about costs and the environment and did not follow delusions of grandeur. The Kulm will show itself in new vesture, but will be as it ever has been before. Just a little bigger.
Another interesting question is: who will make the first jump on the new Kulm? This decision will be made by the Austrian civils in a voting. Following Hubert Neuper’s words, around five jumpers will be in this selection and the one who gets the most votes will have the honour to inaugurate the ski jump. Neuper has not been naming any jumpers, so the tension will rise more and more.
Ski Jumps:Bad Mitterndorf (Tauplitz)