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Luis on Ski Jumping Hill-Tournament: at the team competition in Klingenthal on 22nd of November 2014

on 2014-12-15

Directly connected to the last episode of his column „Luis on Ski Jumping Hill-Tournament”, our columnist Luis Holuch is speaking about the final day of the press trip with Eurosport. The special focus in this episode is on the venue tour at the VogtlandArena, the group did before the team competition. Of course, we wish you a lot of fun at reading this article!

Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament

By Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch

There are not many sports that are so much depending on the weather conditions, like ski jumping. That is a well-known fact and so the weather became the only topic on this Saturday morning. As I went into the breakfast room, Heike and Matt were sitting at the table and just looking out the window. The wind blew strongly around the houses and remembered me back to last year, where the wind caused a lot of incidents and cancelled competitions. So, I did not feel comfortable at all as I saw that. Immediately, I turned my iPhone on and checked the weather forecast. It said that we would have 4 m/sec of wind and sunny weather.

That is nothing special or dangerous – because the wind mains would be built up. So, I had a relaxing breakfast with Gerdine and Nicola and of course the next topic has been the event on Friday. There was nothing but only ski jumping, but everybody who knows my will admit that I would be the last person who claimed about that. Our bus tour was supposed to start at 9 a.m. so that we arrived at noon the latest. The whole group has been in time at the bus, so were able to start punctually. We left the Rennsteig and then passed areas of which I have not ever heard of.

The first place I knew, because we passed it also last year, was Zwota. So, I directed our bus driver Lars to the accreditation center which was in the bank at the marketplace of Klingenthal like last year. The accreditations Heike and I handed out were sort of a medal for everyone, because that meant access to the arena and to the media areas. It was simply not possible to get closer to the action than we got. And even our parking slot was close, because it was directly next to the jumpers’ village. The ways were short – the main argument that caused Klingenthal became most media-friendly venue in the World Cup 2013/2014.

The press chief of Klingenthal’s organisation committee, Sascha Brand expected us for a venue tour. We arrived a bit earlier than planned, even though we did not lost any time and started the tour immediately. Of course, Toni – who joined us once again for the tour – took a group photo first. The first stop of the tour was the mixed-zone where the accredited journalists were allowed to stay during the competition. There were to paths signed: the inner one was the mixed zone and the one beside it was the one the jumpers would use. Next to this path were either the stands or the jumpers’ village which was our next stop. Actually it is not much more than 30 portable timber houses, but very useful and was close to the fans, the media journalists and also to the lift.

The so-called “Wie-Li” is definitely unique, like so many other parts of this arena. Because I took the chance to use it already last year, I announced the ride with it as a rollercoaster ride for the others. That’s how the “Wie-Li” actually looks like. He became directly one of the main-shown attractions on TV at the first summer grand-prix. And that has not changed until today. Four persons can get into one wagon and I shared one with Simona, Matt and bus driver Lars who is called Matthias Schneider (typical German name) on his accreditation. The ride goes slower as I thought, but that effected that we were able to enjoy the outlook. “If you want to have the perfect view on the jumps, you only have to go with the Wie-Li”, I said to Simona. “Yeah, you can almost see everything. But, can we use the lift all the time?”, she asked. “Yeah, of course. The jumpers are priority, but we have access to the lift”, I explained to her. She smiled satisfied and took a deep breath.

The really impressive part came directly afterwards with the judges’ tower, which looks more like a floating casing or an UFO. Matt explained his excitement: “the guys in there must have a great look on everything!” “They do, definitely. But unfortunately, it is not that clear”, I answered. Matt asked: “how do you mean?” I explained: “they need to have a clear look on the landing. But that is not the case, because they look from behind. It is way easier to fake a telemark landing as a jumper as if the judges’ look from the side or from the front”. “I see. But why did not they buy the tower at another spot?”, he asked with a good cause. “At this venue as like at many others, you do not really have the opportunity to build it at another place, from the geological point of view. But if a judge is not sure which mark he/she should give, it is possible to take a look at the TV replay”. Matt was impressed: “wow, that makes this sport even more fascinating to me than it was before”, he said and swayed his imaginary hat.

Of course, such praise adulated me, but it was not difficult for me to answer the questions, even though we talked in English. I got to know all the vocabulary in the past few years and now I know how to use it. That is also thanked to my trip to Planica this March, where I met Mike LeBlamc amd his wife Deneene from the USA for the first time personally. We knew each other for one and a half year via Facebook and spent the World Cup Final together and only spoke English during the entire weekend. At the beginning it was like a bicycle chain: you need to put some oil on it until it works. In my case that meant I needed half an hour conversation until my English went fluently. Here, everything went faster, because this experience was not new anymore for me. In addition to that, our guest did not really have much knowledge about ski jumping, so I was able to prove my knowledge and skills. “This trip would have been totally different if we made it with Austrians and Swiss”, Heike said only a few days later in the office. She was totally right, we would not have tell them any new stuff.

The typical tourist behaviour appeared as the inrun tower was in sight. “Amazing! I feel like in an adventure park”, Simona laughed. “Yeah, we take the rollercoaster to reach for the tower”, Matt admitted. Only Heike and Sascha were missing, who took an own wagon. I and the other three of the wagon went to the others who were just impressed by the construction: “How high is that?! That is just massive”, “impressive, simply impressive” were the first statements I heard. “I am looking forward to your reaction when we will be on the tower”, I said. We were already 700 meters above sea level and now we will go up another 30 meters, Sascha was telling us. Our guests were allowed to ask some questions and did that now. So Sascha explained how and how much snow the guns produced to make the competitions happen. He also told some details about the wind guards who are either necessary for the competitions. After that, we took the elevator to the top of the hill. As we arrived there, uncomfortable conditions and feelings came on. “You get used to that as a ski jumper”, I said to the others. “This is just crazy. How can you go up here voluntarily?”, a few were asking. “That is one of the questions, I am really not able to answer. Therefore, I needed to be a ski jumper. You should later ask that question to Gerd Siegmund.”

After this statement, the excitement for the dinner grew, because Gerd Siegmund and Dirk Thiele (the German Eurosport commentators) would join us. We walked a few steps to the start gates and to the highest point of the hill. “Straight across the road, there is already the Czech Republic”, Sascha said and walked a few steps downstairs. I was the first person who followed him. The others were a bit afraid and hardly made some steps, it was too high for them. Most of the others went to the balustrade and used it for going down. Of course, we wanted to make another group photo here, but it took some time until everyone felt comfortable and found a spot to stand. Most of the guys had trouble with the altitude. “How can you be so relaxed up here?”, Jonathan asked me. “The first ski jump I visited was the fourth largest of the world with a levitating tower. That one is even more massive than here.” “How do you mean? That one was even bigger?”, he asked confused. “Yes, indeed. The tower was not only 30 meters high, but 70”, I answered. “Unbelievable”, he said and shook his head.

Unfortunately, the time was running a bit and so we had to go down with the lift. The way down was a bit faster than the way up and so the feeling like in an adventure park increased a bit. The judges’ tower’s back is almost as spectacular as the front and not only this view caused a happy smile on the others’ faces. As we arrived at the bottom station of the “Wie-Li”, we went to our last stop, the commentator booths. In Klingenthal, these are located next to the video wall. So, this offers the great opportunity for the jumpers to visit the commentators and give exclusive statements. Eurosport uses this option as often as possible and the viewers like it. The commentators are also able to see the landing, which is some comfort for their work.

The venue tour was over after about one hour. We finished it just in time, because the hill was closed from 1 p.m. and so we had to finish the tour before that time. Sascha said “goodbye” to us and went to the press centre to care for the journalists. We had plenty of time now until the competition respectively the trial round started and so we decided to also go the press centre to get some lunch and warm up ourselves.

I finished for this episode. Stay sportive until next time. Luis

Ski Jumps:

GER Klingenthal (Vogtland-Arena)

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